Category: life

There Is Always a Silver Lining

There Is Always a Silver Lining

Every situation, no matter how grim, can be looked at from more than its obvious perspective.

A glass of water: Is it half-full, or half-empty?

My thought: Who cares? If you’re thirsty, you’ve got a glass with water in it. Drink up, quench your thirst, life goes on.

One quality I’m truly grateful to have bestowed upon me from my mother, is her ability to find the good in any situation. Sometimes it’s harder to do, but there’s always a way to look at something in a positive light rather than dwell on the negative, if you’re open to finding that possibility. As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on my couch with one of the worst ear infections I’ve had in my 36 years of life. I don’t know how it happened, but it happened. I can’t change that, but what I can do is change how I feel about it.

Sure, I’m bummed about it. I had to miss out on some things, but something very good did come of this.

For all of my life, I’ve never been able to swallow pills. I’ve tried for many years, and for whatever reason have never been able to get them down. I’d put one in my mouth, and it would swish around. I’d drink water… a little bit, a lot, nothing would help. I’d wind up having to spit the pill out and never be able to get it down. Some medications, which only came in pill form, I’d have to crush up and put into applesauce, even as an adult.

I didn’t want to do this forever, and I was determined to learn how to do this. Everyone else I knew could do it; even people I knew growing up couldn’t, and now miraculously could. I was determined to jump on that pill-popping bandwagon. As it turns out, it was surprisingly easier than I thought.

The problem, at least for me, was simple:  I was overthinking the whole process.

Everyone had told me their various ways of doing it…

“Put the pill in the back of your throat, right on your tongue.”

“Take a little sip of water, and just….*gulp* it down.”

“Just do it.”

So, a little over a month ago I told myself that if anyone else can do it, so can I. I went into the kitchen, got a small cup of water, and popped a Zyrtec pill in my mouth and just swallowed it without giving me enough time to overthink it. Rather than get myself psyched up, I just pop the pill in and swallow it with a little gulp of water. The more relaxed I am, the easier it goes.

I was overjoyed. I then went to the store and picked up a bottle of men’s multivitamins, which were considerably larger than the Zyrtec pill. I tried to take it, and it went down. I can do this!

I tried to take the multivitamin pill again the next day, and the original issue happened. The pill swished around in my mouth and I couldn’t swallow it. I started getting freaked out again, and then sat down to think about it.

I work in technical support, so taking a more analytical and logical thought process to this seemed appropriate: I’ve already proven that I’m physically able to do this – I’ve taken one larger pill and one smaller one and swallowed them without issue, so this confirmed the problem was completely in my mind. I waited a few days, then tried again with a multivitamin – down the hatch.

Fast forward to now…

I have one bottle of liquid, but when I get it refilled I’m going to request it be in pill form… mainly, because the liquid doesn’t taste that great!

I’m fighting an ear infection now so I’m taking two extra sets of pills, but this has been good practice for me to get accustomed to swallowing things whole. I’ve gotten to the point where I no longer need to drink water to get them down. I can put a pill in and swallow it, and just use the water to wash it down, since sometimes it tastes funny just after swallowing it. Not a bad problem to have, if you ask me.

So… the good from the bad… I’ve got a nasty ear infection. My left ear feels like it’s being stabbed with an ice pick… the good: I’ve finally been able to swallow pills, it only took 36 years.

There’s always something good to come from a bad situation: Just look for it. It’s there, and it just might help you get through whatever’s going on and make the experience just a little bit better.


Going On A Cruise After Having Weight Loss Surgery

Going On A Cruise After Having Weight Loss Surgery

Getting weight loss surgery was one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made. It’s improved my life immensely, and it’s been an incredible tool to help me with living a healthier lifestyle. I’ve been able to experience things I never thought I would be able to do before, and cruises were my perfect opportunity to try things previously impossible.

Back in February, while on Majesty of the Seas, I climbed a rock wall.

Never in my wildest dreams would I ever think I’d be able to go rock climbing!

On this most recent trip on Anthem of the Seas, I tried the Flowrider for the first time doing some bodyboarding!

It was so much fun!

I also participated in a scuba “Try Dive” experience on Anthem, in which a PADI-certified instructor taught another gentleman and I the basics of diving with scuba gear. After a brief orientation, we put on all the equipment (tank, weight belt, and all) and swam laps underwater in the ship’s pool for about 20 minutes. It was such a great experience, and I didn’t even think I’d get past the stage of putting all the gear on. I thought I’d be too big and wouldn’t be able to proceed, but everything fit, and I even had room to tighten some of the straps. I finally felt like a normal human being. 

Before I started my journey toward being healthier, I would often stand on the sidelines and think “I’m too big to do that.” I then would take pictures of a lot of these activities, as a way to kind of live vicariously through those participating, but I just didn’t want to do that anymore without having those fun experiences for myself. It’s time I “YOLO’d” because after all, as the saying goes, you do only live once.

There are some unavoidable considerations though that those of us with smaller tummies will have to keep in mind:

1. There’s food everywhere.

If you’re easily tempted by a little cupcake here, or a piece of bread there, your temptations may very well have a field day with you on your cruise. But, don’t let that get you down. Always remember that being on vacation you can still follow your budget, and if you want a cookie or two, have them, but don’t have them at both lunch and dinner, for example. Let yourself enjoy food within reason, and be sure to account for it in your budget. Also, you’re going to be doing a lot of walking on ships since they’re quite big, and you’re burning off calories just getting to and from your stateroom!

2. Crew may not be sensitive to those of us who don’t eat as much.

Most crew members may not even be aware of weight loss surgeries, how they work, what they involve, and how it changes all of our lifestyles. To them, we’re just average-looking people who appear to not have much of an appetite, and then are baffled as to why our plates are still mostly full when we tell them we’re done. Don’t let that get in your way; I found the best approach was I would tell servers when they pushed, that “I don’t eat very much.” Most of them understood, and let it go after that. However, be prepared to hear it more than once. In their defense,  most of them may interpret a half full plate as coming from someone who didn’t enjoy their meal. I found that making it clear (and sometimes borderline overdoing it) helped to ease the tension there.

3. Provide feedback (don’t complain) if you don’t have a good experience.

This is a big one.  No change can, or will, be made unless those making mistakes are informed that something is wrong. If a server makes a comment, or does something inappropriate, provide that feedback to the head waiter. Bear in mind the difference between a complaint and feedback; you always catch more flies with honey. Feedback is constructive, where as a complaint is simply stating a problem and expecting something in return.

Complaining really doesn’t get anywhere at the end of the day.

I’d like to share something that happened on my last cruise. This is a paraphrased excerpt of the feedback I provided to Royal Caribbean via their survey:

“Except for dining in the buffet, whenever I had a waiter waiting on me, they would always interrogate me as to why I had food left on my plate when I was finished with my meal. I’d had stomach surgery, so I no longer have the option to eat the same amount as any normal person. I decided to do this for the betterment of my life…I chose to be happier and healthier rather than be able to stuff myself. The crew should be more sensitive to situations like this, and if a passenger says they are finished, they should not be continually pressured to eat something else, as it made for some very uncomfortable situations. In one of the dining rooms, my waiter told me I could eat anything I wanted because “He has a big kitchen.” – I’ve been a big person my entire life (weighing almost 400 lbs at my worst)… I am used to people making comments, but I shouldn’t have to deal with or hear things like that when I’m on a vacation. I’m simply going to dinner to order what I want and enjoy it, and I should not have to explain my situation to someone, or hear their commentary on how big the kitchen is. Statements like that are just unnecessary and inappropriate. I know a big part of going on cruises is enjoying foods one may not be accustomed to eating, but food is not the be-all/end-all part of a cruise experience. It would be nice to see crew be more attentive to and respectful of people when they’re done eating. Even if they take one bite of their food and say they’re done, we’ve all paid the same price for our cruise an we should be able to eat as much, or as little as we choose.”

4. Enjoy yourself: You deserve it.

Cruises are very much a vacation in which you’ll get what you put into it. If you want to go on the ship and sit by the pool while drinking an ice-cold glass of water (who are we kidding…I meant an ice-cold margarita!), do it. If you want to go on and do every activity under the sun, do it! There will always be plenty of choices for activities, and foods as well.

You may have to explain your situation to those unfamiliar with weight loss surgery, but it’s not their fault they’re untrained or unfamiliar.

I recently made a video about this very subject over on my YouTube channel which I’d highly recommend checking out. (Feel free to subscribe if you enjoyed it, as I have lots of other content there and coming soon!)

The most important thing I can say is this: Don’t let anything detract you from taking part in experiences that may have been impossible for you in your old life. You deserve it. You put in so much hard work; weight loss is a lifelong war, not just a battle. A battle can be fought and won (or lost), but a war is ongoing. Think of this as one of many battles in which you were victorious.  Go, and celebrate your victory!

I. Hate. Texting.

I. Hate. Texting.

I need to vent.

I’m 36 which means I grew up in the age where people still actually spoke to each other. We weren’t glued to our phones, and we didn’t hide behind words on a screen as an alternative to having a real conversation. We had something to say to someone, we found a time to talk, and then discussed it. Why has that fallen by the wayside? What’s happened to the art of genuine human communication?

It’s slipping away in an agonizingly slow painful bleed to oblivion.

I remember when texting came out; it was originally called SMS – which stood for Short Message Service.  The keyword there– short.

I remember sending little texts to people I was meeting up with…

“Running late, be right there.”

“Want me to bring anything?”

Stuff like that.

For some reason, though, now it’s exploded into this form of communication where people have entire conversations over texts, without hearing anyone’s voice.  This opens the flood gates of misinterpretation, which for me is extremely frustrating. I always choose my words carefully and intentionally, and have often been praised for communicating in a clear and concise way when I speak with people. There’s a reason for that; because I want to be understood. Then again, don’t we all? I don’t want to leave anything up to misinterpretation, and I expect those with whom I’m speaking to mention if they need something clarified, and I will gladly do so. That’s how conversations work; at least, that’s how I think they’re supposed to work.

The biggest flaw of this form of communication, is that it completely eliminates the human element; it’s just a collection of words, instead of a true conversation. Text-based messages going back and forth is not the same thing. It’s just letters that happen to elucidate a message from one person to another. The actual intent of the message, and the meaning behind it, it’s inflection, etc… are left up to the reader for interpretation, or in most cases, misinterpretation.

Now, I’ll admit, in most cases, this isn’t that big of a deal. In the “Running late” example, it really doesn’t need any interpretation. It’s a factual message. The person sending it will not be arriving at their destination on time, so they will be late. Asking what time a show starts, or the address of a meeting place, etc. You get the idea; these are fact-based answers.

The problem lies with asking questions that deal in feelings, and not -fact-based information. There is a major benefit to hearing someone’s voice, and having that genuine human connection. You can hear inflections and tone, and whether or not many realize it, these can drastically change how something is coming across. Things like these are what keep conversations human.

Dying or not, I’ll always be someone who prefers to talk than to text. I’ll gladly exchange texts if need be, but I’m most likely to turn the conversation toward when we can find a time to talk on the phone and have a real conversation. Human interaction doesn’t have to die in the name of convenience. Yes, texts may be more convenient, but let’s not forget about keeping human interactions…human.


No Caffeine: One Year Later

No Caffeine: One Year Later

Today marks a significant day in my journey that is life: It’s been a full year since I’ve drank anything with caffeine in it. I’m sure there were trace amounts of caffeine in some foods I’ve eaten, but what I’m referring to specifically are things like coffee and soda.

I haven’t had any coffee or any soda in a full year. Do I miss it? Not really.

Prior to having a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (gastric sleeve, or “the sleeve”), I used to drink a few cups of coffee a day, and would also need a few sodas to keep me going during throughout the day. Since stopping my intake of caffeine, I can tell life’s gotten better, especially getting a good night’s sleep. Even getting only 6 hours, I still feel rested and am able to get through my day naturally. By the time 10pm or so rolls around, I’m getting tired and ready for sleep. Around 7am, I’m ready to start my day. It’s a very nice feeling compared to needing various amounts of caffeine to get through my day, and not always having consistent sleep at night.

The only down side is I’ve gotten into drinking mostly water. Every now and then I may have some water, then for some variety, I drink water. If that’s the price I have to pay for what the last year’s been like as a result of quitting caffeine… I’m quite fine with it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get a nice tall glass of water.

Keep It Or Lose It: Update

Keep It Or Lose It: Update

Earlier, I posted about wearing some facial hair.  I’ve never been one to wear a beard/mustache/goatee/etc. I’d tried it once before, by choice. This time around, I had to wear it because a doctor told me I temporarily wasn’t allowed to shave the area.  However, I was given a time frame of 2 weeks in which I couldn’t shave. Tonight is the 13th day, and as the title of the below video states… that was 13 days too many to have facial hair!

So, I present…the answer to the earlier blog post… Clearly, I didn’t keep it!  Watch the video for more!

Keep It or Lose It?

Keep It or Lose It?

The fact that I am not smiling in the picture is quite intentional…


It all started a few weeks ago when I went to visit the dermatologist to have something taken care of on my face. Well, I’ll just call it what it was: I had warts on my face. How they got there, I have no idea, but needless to say they needed to go.

Thankfully, the treatment was fairly easy. As the saying goes, “there’s a first for everything”… I can now say I’ve been sprayed in the face with liquid nitrogen. It was cold, and it stung, but it wasn’t unbearable. I felt it more on the drive home than I did during the actual procedure, but the stinging feeling was gone after an hour or so. I’d honestly rather sit through that again than what I’m dealing with right now.

One of the doctor’s orders was that I couldn’t shave the area of my face for a few weeks while waiting for the treated area to heal. Other than trying some facial hair in the past, I’ve never worn anything as far as that goes. I have always preferred the look and feel of a clean-shaven face. Interestingly enough, no men in my family have facial hair, and being the first to break that tradition really isn’t high on my priority list. Perhaps I should look into getting my face zapped so I don’t have to grow facial hair ever again… that’s a thing, right?

I’ve gone a few days without shaving, and it’s no big deal, but this is a whole new level of “unbearably annoying.” I love the feel after a nice shave… my face is nice and smooth… I am literally dying for a shave right now because my face does not stop itching!

Friends of mine with facial hair have all told me that the feeling of discomfort and itchiness will eventually pass, and others have told me that my… “stuff” on my face actually looks good.  Hence, I’m torn. There’s a part of me that can’t wait to get rid of it, and there’s a part of me that is mildly curious to keep it for awhile and see if it changes anything.  I’ve been looking for ways to get out of my comfort zone in some areas of life, so maybe this is one I can add to the list. It certainly meets the requirements of pushing the boundaries of what I consider to be comfortable, because comfortable this surely is not!

Can I Ask A Quick Favor?

Can I Ask A Quick Favor?

I promise, it’s quick, and will cost you nothing. You’ll be done before you know it.  It’ll actually take you longer to read this (hopefully short) post than actually do what I’m asking. 

If you couldn’t tell, I’ve dusted off my blog over the last few months and have gotten back into it. I really enjoy it; I love creating content. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to only make YouTube videos, or only write blogs, so I’m doing both. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to write about or make videos about, so I’m creating my content on just about anything that comes to mind. I have many interests, and am using that as my basis for creating whatever it is I’m creating.

I’m creating this content because I deeply enjoy sharing my knowledge and experiences with anyone who wants to read about them or watch my videos. That being said, I want to make sure that I’m getting as much exposure as I can, and sharing my material with as many people as possible. The truth is, I can’t do that alone. 

All I ask is that you share my blog and YouTube channel with your friends and family; anyone you think might enjoy what I have to say. I cover a wide range of topics: Taking cruises, Photography Equipment, Life Experiences, Weight Loss, Product and App reviews, just to name a few. One of the reasons I love having a wide variety of material, is it will give my readers and subscribers a chance to see things they may not be familiar with or aware of. 

So, that’s it. I’d be eternally grateful if you could share this post on your social media network of choice, and encourage your friends and families to do the same if you like what I’ve got here on my blog and YouTube channel.  You can find me on all forms of Social Media with the name iamjohnbamber – I couldn’t think of anything else to use, but since this is all about things that interest me why not just be…well…me!

A Lot Can Happen In 3 Years

A Lot Can Happen In 3 Years

This morning, Facebook prompted me to share the picture on the left, but I couldn’t do that without reflecting on what’s happened, and just how much life can change in 3 years.

On the left was from May of 2014, the right was from February 2017.

In May of 2014,  I was wearing jeans with a waist size of 52, and weighing somewhere around 350 lbs. I could only shop at a Big & Tall store. there were days I was depressed about it, and some days I didn’t even think about it. “It was what it was.”

As I’m writing this, I fit into jeans with a waist size between 38 and 40 (depending on where it comes from). I fit comfortably into a 2X shirt, and haven’t shopped at a big & tall shop in months.

I’m amazed at the progress I’ve made, and grateful for all the support I’d had. I’m having one of those “surreal”  moments sitting here just realizing how far I’ve come.

I’ve felt myself get more confident in life, and have had more energy than I’ve ever had before. I know I’m heading in a good direction.


First Bike Ride in a Long Time

First Bike Ride in a Long Time

It’s been a while since I’d been on a bicycle. I bought one shortly after moving to Austin in 2014, and I rode it a few times, but it then sat in my garage, as bikes can do from time to time.

February 10, 2015 February 10, 2015

As with any regimen to get healthy, exercise is a vital part of success, as is eating right and making better choices. I decided to get my bike out from the garage today, and get it looked at down at the bike shop since the tires had gone flat and it could use a little TLC.

I was in and out in less than 20 minutes at the bike shop, so I decided to take it out for a little ride at a park near my apartment. I didn’t overdo it, but I have a good idea for a benchmark to hit for the next few rides. I’ll work my way up to riding longer, and faster, but for today I was very happy with what I did. I don’t know the exact distance, probably half a mile or so. I felt good afterwards, though, and I guess that’s the best part.

I had one of my little action cams with me, so I made a little video. Why not, right?

You Can Make It Work

You Can Make It Work

Sometimes, things happen that don’t exactly align with how we’d like.

Sometimes life isn’t all sunshines, rainbows, and unicorns.

Sometimes we’re dealt the worst hand, and have to find some way to not lose it all.

There are things that come up that, through no fault of our own, involve circumstances that are beyond our control. We have to deal with whatever it is, and accept it.  The beautiful thing, though, is that in every situation there will be one thing that will always be in our control:  How we deal with it, and what we do about it.

Some years back, I decided to see a therapist to help overcome anxiety issues that I’d been dealing with for some time. He helped me learn about what some of my triggers were, and ways to use logic to reason with myself and to help me deal with a situation that would otherwise leave me in an anxious mess. I’ve developed a strong sense of self-awareness from this experience, and I’ve found the words of the Serenity Prayer to be an affirmation of this. I’ve learned to accept that which I can’t change, and focus on what I can change, and have learned to seek the difference between the two.

There will be things in this life that we can not change. We can always change how we handle these situations, and where we focus in those times we need to cope. I’ll always be eternally grateful to my mother because she turned the idea of finding a silver lining in any situation into an art form. No matter what would happen, she’d always be the first to find something positive about it and turn the focus to that, away from whatever was bad.

I’ve decided to make that a part of how I deal with bad situations when they come up. While it may be easier to focus on the problem, and dwell on the situation, I’ve found that it just won’t get you anywhere. It’s better to focus on the solution, and figure out either how to get out of the situation, or make the best of it until a better situation or resolution comes along. I’ve found that this mentality has helped me cope with many of those moments where life has thrown me a lemon or two. Rather than feel the pain of each lemon hitting me, I’m kicking back and enjoying a tall glass of ice cold lemonade.