Author: thejdgates

Aspiring Singer/Songwriter/Comedian and Retail Guru



I was looking through my photos from this last year after my birthday this week when I came across the photo on the left. I couldn’t believe it… When did I ever look that big?!? What a difference 6 months can make.

In the second half of 2014 I made several positive changes that helped make the photo on the right possible:

  • I started to think positively. I focused on what I could control and I was actively thankful for all of the opportunities I was able to get.
  • I started to really consider my health. I quantified each of my activities, my eating, and my goals to ensure I was following through with my mission of being healthier.
  • I started to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. No more “super meals” or binges.
  • I started counting my calorie intake, tracking my daily activity, and I weighed myself at least twice a week.
  • Due to my allergy, I stopped eating anything containing gluten. I stopped drinking soda and caffeine containing beverages. (Did you know that one serving of Apples contains as much energy as a caffeinated cup of coffee?)

I have been humbled to hear from those of you who’ve told me that my progress has inspired you to make positive changes in your lives as well. Please keep sharing your successes in 2015 and I will do the same!

Big things coming in 2015!

First up in 2015 is a change in careers. After 3 years, I left my position at Apple this week. I will be starting a new job later this month and I am excited to try something new (not retail) at another amazing company. I will have more time to focus on my oft-ignored passions as I get my weekends back! (More to come soon.)

I will spend next weekend in D.C. & Baltimore seeing friends, family… AND I finally get to meet my beautiful niece Sadie.

When I get back to Omaha, I immediately go into closing mode. Buying a house was a big part of my “Before I’m 30…” plan and thankfully I found a great home in Westside. I will get the keys in mid-January, so expect renovation photos in late-January and early-February!

One last thing:

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to send me a message, email, or posted a comment over the last year. 2014 started out as a real challenge and it took a lot for me to get to this point. The past six months have meant so much to me, I am more determined to meet my goals than ever, I am sixty pounds lighter, and I am a heck of a lot happier. Thank you all for your continued love and support.

To another year of progress!

JD Gates


Down sixty.

^^That’s my “60 pounds lost” celebratory Klondike Bar. It tasted a lot like the Dairy Queen Dipped Cones I miss so much… Gluten filled cake cones be damned.

Where I am.

Today, after losing 60 pounds, I look like this:

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 9.59.34 PM

The week before Thanksgiving I had some time off of work and I started to look for a house to buy. Finding a home of my own has been on my radar for the better part of the last decade, and I finally have everything lining up to make it happen. Hopefully, I will find a home that is awesome which will be a stepping stone toward even better things!

Re: The Dreaded Thanksgiving Dinner… it came and went a few calories over budget as expected… but totally worth it. Mom’s Pumpkin Pie filling in small ramekins were unbelievably good! I had a great meal, but with hard work to stay on track, I kept on losing. Latkes and Brisket are the next food hurdle to jump.

Where I am going.

Eating well in December and January has always been tough for me as my birthday falls smack in the middle of the Holiday Parties and New Years celebrations on Dec. 30th. After making it past the milestone treat days and Thanksgiving this year I know I can make great decisions while still enjoying myself. I look forward to the opportunity to break my Birthday Blowout cycle.


I there are a ton of challenges coming up in the new year that could stress me out and derail me. I am confident that I can continue being mindful and I can keep getting healthier if I just look back at the successes I have worked hard for over the last several months.

I will likely have one last post before the end of the year… I know you are all desperately waiting for it! 😉

Here’s to a fulfilling 14 days until I turn 28,


Down fifty. (That’s with a 5 and a 0.)

^^That’s my “50 pounds lost” celebratory Chocolate Confetti Cake from Whole Foods. (They have some great gluten free baked goods and I look forward to more specialty gluten free holiday treats… in moderation of course.)

Where I am.

After 50 pounds (a haircut and a beard trim) I look like this today:

That October Bronchitis Bout was a bit worse than I thought. My health and schedule colluded to keep me out of the gym so far this month as well. I did, however, stay very active at work and thankfully the weight continued to fall away.

Where I am going.

I am sure the next month(s) will test my calorie intake, but I am continuing my soft goal of 2000 calories a day and the hard goal of 2500 or fewer calories daily. I haven’t gone over 2500 calories since starting over 4 months ago and things are going well. Slow, steady, and healthy. If I hit another big milestone I’ll post an update.


The last several months I have felt an outpouring of support for my healthy adventures. As we get closer to my favorite holiday Thanksgiving, I am reminded how thankful I am of everyone who has read, commented, high-fived, or hugged me as I keep going. Your support over the last 120+ days has not only helped me become a healthier person, but more importantly it is helping me become a better man. Thank you all.

Here’s to you and yours during the holiday season,


I’m an Uncle! (Down Forty-Four)

The biggest news this month is the birth of my niece, Sadie! (^ That’s her up there! ^)

My sister Jennie and her husband David welcomed Sadie Avalon just 2 weeks ago! I can’t wait to get out to see them and spend time getting know the newest member of our family! Mazel Mazel!

Where I am.


Time is flying! It’s been nearly two months since I published my first post and 110 days since I started keeping a log of my food intake and activity. I look like this now:


Since you’ve last heard from me I had a mild case of bronchitis. Being sick really knocked down my activity level these last few weeks. I focused on getting better and eating wholesome food, that paired with a quick visit to the doctor, and some good meds, I finally knocked out the gunk. Thankfully the pounds stayed away without too much effort.

Where I am going.

Some goals for the November include:

  • Remember to vote. (Everyone should do this one!)
  • 2 gym visits a week. (It’s starting to get colder…)
  • Average 7,000 steps a day. (Up from 6,000.)
  • Start meditating. (I have been dying to get this into my routine.)
  • Try some damn yoga. *Every part of my body cringes.* (Thanks Rhegan!)


It’s getting to be that time of year when people start to exceed their limitations. Spending too much money, eating too much food, and that inevitable holiday stress. But I’m not worried, because, this year I feel particularly well-positioned to avoid nearly all of it. I have a great support system of family and friends, I have learned my limitations and have adjusted my intake to best fit the lifestyle I want, and I am doing better at letting go of the small stuff and refocusing on the positive outcomes of my actions I get the pleasure of experiencing daily

Here’s to another month of progress. (And hopefully no more bronchitis.)

Sadie’s Uncle,


Down thirty-one.

It’s been two weeks since I published my first post about my journey to healthier living thus far. It seems like the right time to check back in, post a photo, give a short update, and send out some love.

Where I am.


I have a new smaller notch in my belt and I am walking at least 6,000 steps every day.

All of that is great… BUT… The real reason I am posting today is to wish my sister, Jennie, a Happy Birthday.

Jennie inspired me to take my gluten allergy more seriously than I ever had before. After discovering she was allergic to gluten (like me) and also a slew of other common foods, she made considerable dietary changes that have helped to make her feel better and have improved her quality of life considerably. Watching her succeed has made me want to be a better and more healthy person as well.

Happy Birthday Jennie. I cannot wait to spend time with you, Dave, and your soon to arrive baby girl! Thank you for being the best big sister a guy could ever hope to have. I wouldn’t be nearly as far on this journey without your support.




AWESOME & CHEAP & FAST Review – LiveGfree Snickerdoodle Cookies

I found some delicious Soft Baked Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookies at Trader Joe’s some time ago. They were bite sized morsels of cinnamon sugary goodness… but not worth an extra trip just for cookies. Then, I ran into Enjoy Life brand Soft Baked Gluten Free Snickerdoodle Cookies while shopping at Hy-Vee. They were tiny chewy chunks of cinnamon sugary goodness… but they cost around $4 a box. I was dying for more of these cookies but I didn’t want to drive all the way to Trader Joe’s or spend $4 to buy 6 ounces of cookies…

ALDI to the rescue!

ALDI recently started promoting their gluten free line of products, including LiveGfree Snickerdoodle Cookies. They also were tiny bite sized chewy chunk-like morsels of cinnamon sugary goodness, they were at a location with plenty of other items I needed, and they were only $2.49 a box! AWESOME & CHEAP & FAST! But they were hiding something…



The “Finkle is Einhorn, Einhorn is Finkle” of soft baked cookie conspiracies!

Enjoy Life is a big brand baker who makes the cookies for their brand, Trader Joe’s (ALDI subsidiary), and ALDI. Because of the different market segments each brand is aimed at, pricing is different in their respective locations. Enjoy Life (Premium/Mass Market), Trader Joe’s (Specialty), and LiveGfree (Discount) all offer the same cookies!

This is starting to happen more with gluten-free products. It’s too costly to build a facility to produce exclusively gluten free products, so Walmart, Kroger (Baker’s in Omaha), and ALDI/Trader Joe’s continue to test and sell the best gluten free products under their “private label” brands.

Try the gluten free private labels first! You will save money and get the same quality as the big brands!


ALDI LiveGfree Snickerdoodle Cookies

Price – $2.49 (box of 12)

Calories per serving – 120 calories (2 cookies)

AWESOME & CHEAP & FAST Review – ★★★★★  (I love them so much I might buy stock in ALDI.)


AWESOME & CHEAP & FAST Review Preview.

I have always hated this adage:


I want them all!

Instead of settling for Good & Cheap, Cheap & Fast, or Fast & Good, I decided my reviews will be about AWESOME & CHEAP & FAST foods!

  • Awesome – Healthy or delicious… hopefully both.
  • Cheap – Reasonably priced or less expensive than comparable name brands.
  • Fast – Food that can be eaten for an easy meal or snack.

Each item will be reviewed from 1-5 stars and include pricing and locations to pick up the product.

My first review will be up tomorrow morning. Let me know what you think and if you have any products you would like me to review!