Monday, May 16, 2016

The Impact of Becoming Healthier

How can becoming healthy have an impact on your life, your surroundings, your mental attitude, your propensity and your friends?

As an experiment of one (talking about me here) and interacting with others around me, I have realized that regaining control of your health, getting to a healthy weight, and improving your life can change where you are in your life.  It also changes your outlook, confidence, and desire to do more!

For me, since I began this journey five years ago, I have seen many personal changes.  I feel so much better! I do not get sick, I have tons of energy, and my attitude is much more positive. 

As a part of this journey, I changed where I was working, as the company I was with at that time did not support my values.  In my new position, I have had more success than any previous job.  After three years, I was promoted to lead a team to do what I successfully had developed. I have a positive impact on my coworkers, customers, and partners and as a result, my prosperity has gone up and I am happier. 

I have also noticed that my circle of friends has changed.  I tend to associate more with other like-minded people who are more interested in health, wellness, and running/training.  Our values and attitude attract others that feel the same way as we do. This has been a blessing as it helps support my journey.   

Never did I envision I would be asked to speak about health and fitness; now I talk to people every week about it. I have met and formed social circles with some well-known leaders in the health community.  So many others in this same circle of friends and acquaintances have also inspired me.

My overall outlook on life is better. I firmly believe I can live past 100!  I also believe there is nothing I can't do in life as long as I focus on it. Many of the old barriers (usually of my own making) have vanished.  Since I am only halfway through my life, I know there will be many opportunities to do crazy, unique, and fun things.  I want to fill my cup until it overflows with chances to do more than I ever dreamt.

In the end, I believe that changing your life in a positive way will make you a happier, healthier person.  In life we become what we surround ourselves with - whether it is our friends, how we treat ourselves, how positive we are, what our outlook is up to us to decide what kind of life we want to live.  I thank God every day that I made the choice to change! 

Do you want to change?  Then do it! Quit putting it off!

Change your life right now!!!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

How Running Saved My Life

Here is my experience with running over the last 3 ½ years. I started running again when I began this health journey 3 ½ years ago because running was the one sport I knew I could go back to doing. I had not consistently run the previous ten years. What I quickly discovered is this:  it is very hard to run with a lot of extra weight. At the time I started I was 75 lbs. heavier than I am now!

I always tell people that running did not make me thinner. It was the “running” that actually gave me the motivation to lose the weight, eat healthier, and make long term changes toward improving my health. The thought of running marathons again had me seeking out the best and healthiest options to support a running lifestyle.

As a part of the journey, I also gave up alcohol. I decided that running was more important and it led to more positive benefits without having alcohol. This was the best decision I ever made.
Without these changes, I would have continued down the road towards chronic illness such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. I was feeding a lifestyle that would have led to a shorter, miserable life. That old lifestyle was slowly killing me from the inside.

As I learned more about other runners, especially Ultra runners and endurance athletes, I quickly discovered that eating a plant-based diet was the best way for me to do the type of training I wanted to do. You cannot go from the couch to a marathon in 18 months by eating donuts – or at least you can’t do it and enjoy it! I wanted to maximize the overall running experience, limit injuries, and recover faster so that I could quickly do more.

After that first marathon in Dec 2012, I ended up running four more (two back-to-back in two days) and added in my first 50K Ultra, all within 14 months of each other.

So yes, running did save my life because it gave me purpose for becoming a healthier me.
I often hear people say they hate running or they hurt when they try it. I say you have two options – keep at it and work on your fitness, or find something else that appeals to you.

My challenge is this: get out the door, find something that excites you, and go after it with all you got.

The passion will drive positive changes if you let it.

Creating your own "Blue Zone!"

How can we leverage the idea of a "Blue Zone" to become more healthy and active?

After reading the Blue Zone Solutions book I started thinking about how this idea of living in an area that promoted health vs thwarting it could be applied to our own lives.  The Blue Zone idea is simple:

There are regions of the world where the healthiest people live. Determining what these people do creates the idea of a healthy region.  Most of the people who live there live longer, healthier lives.

America overall is NOT a healthy blue zone!  We are inundated with unhealthy food choices everywhere – on TV, in our grocery stores, fast food restaurants, and so on.  This is an indicator of being unhealthy because we are a product of our environment.

So how do we change this?  Most of us do not want to leave America, right?  Well, a great place to start is with your environment - which includes your home and friends.

Creating a blue zone at home begins by filling your home with healthier food choices.  Do not be enticed to buy harmful food, but instead, fill your home with fruits, veggies, living greens, and smart beverages such as tea and non-dairy milks.  Then when faced with making a choice for dinner, the default will be the healthy choices because that is all there is to choose from.  As humans it is much easy to make unhealthy choices: 
·         It might taste better
·         it may be easier to eat – think of French fries
·         You’re rushed and you grab something on the go

Your friends can help: This is the fun stuff!  Challenge your friends to create their own blue zones.  Spend time working out together (walking, running, biking, etc.), eating at healthy restaurants together, and encourage each other to be accountable for their choices and actions.  If your friends do not want to play along, then maybe you need to change your friends!  As a runner for example, I tend to hang out with other runners. As a group we tend to be healthier, make better food choices and choose to be very active.

Your Environment: This area is open to your own creativity.  Environments include work, shopping, where you hang out, etc.  When you are at work, bring your own food.  Walk during lunch, use a standing desk, make it a point to surround yourself with healthier options.

Social media groups:  I have found through my own experience that it is fairly easy to influence others around you if you share your ideas, goals, and successes.

In the end, you can change the world around you.  Be the example, have fun, and encourage others to join you.

I promise you won't regret it.......

Monday, June 1, 2015

Healthfest 2015, Marshall Texas

March 27, 2015 over 650 people came out to Marshall, Texas to participate in this year’s Healthfest event. Although Marshall is not exactly close to a major city, the energy and the guest speakers were amazing. Kicking off the event was Mayor Ed Smith and his wife Amanda. These two individuals have been on a mission for the past five years to change the way we eat, and to encourage their town and others to take better care of themselves. As the key coordinators they did a fabulous job!

I wanted to attend the event because I felt it was a great way to meet more like-minded individuals and have a chance to meet some of the key thought leaders in the plant-based movement. There are few opportunities to have so many fabulous speakers all in one place.

As I scoped out the forum and looked for a front row seat, I met an Ultra athlete from Chicago - Dave Wiskowski. We hit it off right from the start. He and I had similar stories for regaining our health, becoming ultra-runners, and having the same passion to sharing this message.

As we gathered in the room Friday night, you could feel the energy building. First I met Dr. Garth Davis, a Houston bariatric surgeon who is changing lives every day.

Then I got a chance to meet Dr. T. Collin Campbell. We discussed how his book The China Study changed my view of the food I eat and discussed his plant-based nutrition course I attended through e-Cornell last summer. He was also first up on stage as he led a discussion around the impact of food on our health. He pointed out that there is a clear correlation between animal protein and cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. The work that he has done over the years has had a tremendous effect on educating other in his field about the science.

I then I got to listen to Rich Roll share his story. At 40 years old he was a coach potato and decided he wanted something more, to be there for his kids, and to regain his own health. In a very short period of time he lost weight, started running, and ultimately participated in a Double Ironman event in Hawaii. He later went on to complete the “Epic 5” event, which was completing five full Ironman events in seven days - one each on a Hawaiian island. I have been a Rich Roll fan for years; he is one of the main reasons I went plant-based.

After his talk, I got a chance to spend a few minutes with him. It was great to briefly share my story with him and thank him for his inspiration. We discussed one of the plant-based groups I help start and he surprised me by telling me he was aware of the PPNSNG group.

The dynamic and very funny Chef AJ then took the stage as she shared how different food groups have different caloric densities. She discussed how we should stay left of the “Red Line” which is where the natural whole foods are. These foods include all the fruits and veggies. Right of the red line is processed foods, simple carbs, meat, and oils. Nuts and seed are also on the right so they should be consumed sparingly.

Saturday morning started out with a short run with Matt Frazier, the No-Meat Athlete. We ran about three miles around the town square. I met some pretty incredible athletes such as Josh LaJuanie who lost over 200 lbs. and became an Ultra runner. I was also able to connect with runners from the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The runners’ skills varied from fairly new runners to Ultra athletes.

The next discussion was with Ellen Jaffe Jones, an accomplished runner, author, and chef. She wrote eat vegan on $4 a day and The Divided House. She talked about feeding a divided family (those who eat vegan and those who do not). She talked about her journey and how being plant-based has allowed her to compete in short distance races at the Master level even though she is now 62.

Following this was the Athlete panel where Rich Roll, Matt Frazier, Omwale Adewale (MMA Fighter), Ellen Jaffe Jones, and Christy Morgan all discussed fueling, training, protein, and supplements. Interesting enough - the consensus was to say no to protein supplements.

Next up was Dr. Garth Davis who discussed America’s obsession with protein. He is current publishing a book called Proteinaholics which will be released in the fall of 2015. His assessment is if we eat enough variety of plant-based foods, then the protein will take care of itself. He showed how protein is contributing to the obesity problem and shared the science to back it up.

Rich Roll was back on stage to discuss food sustainability. In this talk Rich dove deeper into the challenge that the meat industry is not only killing us - but also killing the planet. He reviewed some of the science around the amount of resources need to support factory-farming of cattle, pigs, and chickens. When you do the math - the best answer is plants.

The next day started out with a 5K Race. We ventured through downtown with Rich Roll and Matt Frazier. There were some amazing runners there. I enjoyed the run and actually got a chance to catch up with an old high school friend whom I had not seen in over 30 years. I personally just ran the race at a comfortable pace, I did not plan to push too hard or try to PR (set a personal record). Just being with all these great plant-based athletes was my reward.

Dr. Garth Davis had the next talking segment. He discussed how our genes can certainly impact our health and weight, but that you can overcome these challenges with a plant-based diet. He also shared some amazing stories about some of his patients and their weight loss journey. He spent some time talking about the challenges many obese people face. These challenges include their environment, family history, work, health, and emotions. He is leading the way to get his peers to look at food as part of the problem. He shared that many doctors do not make the correlation back to food and that the medical industry has a lot to learn. He spent some time sharing his own weight loss journey and his accomplishments as an Ironman.

Ellen Jaffe Jones was back up and discussed how she changed her life, became a health advocate, and vegan. She is a top female senior runner who has won many events and competes at the national level in the 100-1.5K races. Her husband recently had a heart attack and her month long experience supporting him in the hospital was truly eye-opening.

The last speaker was Gene Baur from Farm Sanctuary. He shared stories of animal cruelty and the un-sustainability of factory farming. While I personally chose plant-powered living to improve my health, you certainly cannot deny the fact that factory farming is hurting our environment.

Finally we finished up Sunday afternoon with an All Star panel of speakers. Questions were asked about health, nutrition, specific diseases, and much more. The panel did a great job of answering the questions from the audience. The sense I got from some of the questions was “does this lifestyle really work?” Based on the information presented over the weekend and the results shared form the speakers, I would say “yes it does!”

In the end this was a wonderful event. Never would I have imagined so many of the top wellness advocates all in one venue.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Keeping things simple, especially your food!

As I travel along this journey tweaking my own food choices and helping others I tend to notice a trend – people love to make things too complicated!  While there are some “hacks” out there and some quick tips that are useful, at the end of the day your daily routine needs to be simple.  If you overthink your diet/food choices – you’ll end up “giving up” or “giving in” to food choices that do not support your goals!

Maybe it’s because I am a man, but for me the everyday choice of what I eat needs to be simple.  If you struggle to decide what to eat every day, or even worse - every meal - then your brain will go back to autopilot, forgetting about your goals and default to old habits to make things easy. 

We are wired to be simple - our subconscious brain look for efficiencies.  But when the thinking part comes in (our conscious side) and we think “Hmmm - what should I eat for lunch?  This menu is fabulous!  These fried foods look awesome! Oh wait, I am dieting…change that, let’s look for veggies. But I don’t really like that veggie. Is fried avocado a veggie?” ….and on and on - Get the point!
  1. Plan ahead - make up your mind about your goals.
  2. Pack a lunch the night before.
  3. Lay out your breakfast foods ahead of time.

You will find that the right choice eventually becomes the easy choice and then it gets wired into the subconscious.  This is how we can make the seemingly complicated choice easy!
I know it sounds like a lot of work, but I can tell you from firsthand experience that if you do this, in a few weeks, it becomes a habit and you really do not have to think much about it.

Decide now what is important to you.  Is it French fries, diet coke and a burger?  Or is it a trim lean-looking body that is full of health and vitality because you chose to eat healthy?
In the end, eating real food as close to Mother Nature will always be best.  It’s really hard to go wrong when eating real food. 

Good luck and let me know how I can help you be a happier healthier you!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Capital to Coast Race Report

Race Report 

5th Annual Capital to Coast Relay
2 days   *   223 miles   *    12 runners/team

On Thursday Oct 16th, 20 runners from the Waxahachie area headed down to Austin, TX to run the Capital to Coast Relay.  Overall there were 51 teams participating and a course time limit of 40 hours to complete the race. 

So how did I get in this mess?  Well it started when a friend of mine mentioned putting an Ultra six man team together.  He was not able to work out a team, so I signed up with the local WRC (Waxahachie Running Club) team.  I was still intrigued to run the race as if I were on a six-man team, so I decided to run two of the 12 legs!

There were two teams from WRC and we had four vans.  My team van had five runners.  One runner was the oldest race participant at 69 years young – Henry Frare. One runner had been running for about 14 months and had completed a marathon – Andrew White.  The other two runners were not marathon runners but had a solid running base of 1-2 years – Andra Moore and Kristi Slate.

Team One – Look at the innocent smiles!

For me the event was very exciting!  Overall I thought “How hard could it be to run about three half marathons for a total of 38 miles?”  I did run back-to-back marathons for 52.4 miles in two days almost nine month ago.  What I did not expect were the challenges of sleep deprivation, the hot and humid temps, and the overall stress of the race venue – it is an endurance event, right?

The first day started with about three hours of sleep.  Having four guys in the same hotel room sleeping in full size beds was not very conducive to a solid night of rest, plus we had to get up at 2:45 for a 4 AM race start. 

The race started in downtown Austin just south of the capital at 4 AM.  There were 51 teams ready to go!  I did hear that a few teams started later. I guess they were fast enough to make up time with their faster pace!

My first 13 miles went fine, it was a lot of sidewalks and small hills as we headed south of Austin.  The vans would leapfrog their runners and meet them at 1-2 mile increments.  We seemed to be the only people around town with lots of yelling and excitement for all!  I passed the first exchange point and kept going. Here is where the road got a little lonelier as the runners started to spread out.  As we got closer to the 2nd exchange point, the road quickly turned dark and narrow with several hills to climb.  Luckily there wasn’t much traffic to deal with along the way.

After the handoff I got in the van and tried to get some rest.  During the run itself I had nothing but water.  Prior to the start I had a banana and a little bit of coffee - this was my regular pre-run routine.  My plan was to keep it simple and light for the race.  The next four runners ran their legs and then we got a bit of a break. 

We stopped for food in Sequin, a little country roadside eatery called Dixie Grill in Sequin, TX. I had lots of water, a small salad and a plate of steamed veggies. 

Afterwards we headed down to our next handoff.  The road I was to run for the next 11 or so miles was called Knockenut road.  We had a lot of laughs about the name of this road and I heard that while I was running the jokes in the van got more creative. 

We tried sleeping for a bit before my leg began but the sun was very hot, the side of the road was full of bugs and ants, and we also struggled to get a cell signal.

Once van #2 approached, it was time for me to run again.  It was a blacktop road and the thermometer read 93 degrees!  There was little-to-no shade along the way, so it was time to just grind it out.  At one point about five miles into the run, the road turned rough and rocky, and it became very dusty as the vans passed by. 

This is where I had to dig deep and just finish my leg of the run.  I got a little hope when the road turned back to blacktop; however, that lasted about a tenth of a mile as it turned back on to Knockenut and the rocks and dust returned.  Luckily I had a great crew and they were cheering me on and handing me water as I needed it.  At this point I took a few salt sticks for electrolytes and lots of water.

Once I finished my leg the other runners ran their portion of the race. I laid back in the van trying to rest and the day turned into evening as we continued on.  I had an apple and a cliff bar for dinner.

We finished our leg of the race and drove about 30 miles to Karnes Middle school where we could take a shower, rest and get a bite to eat.  At this point I had no interest in eating, so I took my shower and sought refuge on the gym floor around 11:30.  I did not have any sleeping gear, so I grabbed two Spiderman blankets and a State Farm pillow wrap and attempted to get a little rest.  The challenge was all the noise! I could hear every word spoken in the gym, every rustle of a bag, the commotion of runners entering or leaving the gym.  We got up about 2:45 AM and drove another 36 miles to the next exchange.

We stopped for coffee and gas along the way and then parked for about an hour or so as we waited for the next runner.  We then realized that we were one exchange point too far away, we made a mistake and had to backtrack!  This really created a sense of urgency as we flew back up the road to the correct exchange point. 

Here I was, running the 3rd and final leg of my race - 14 miles!  It was about 5 AM, very dark and not much to see on the road until I made it back into town.  I passed the next exchange point and kept on going.  Along the way I had a near mishap as I hit something in the sidewalk.  I never saw what it was, but I went stumbling forward as I attempted to stay upright and not face-plant into the concrete!  I survived, I did not fall, but my heart was now racing and I was wondered if anyone had seen me!  That day the running gods were with me and I was able to keep going.

As I got to the last four miles or so I really started to wear down….I went from a steady run to a run/walk blend just to keep moving forward.  I tried a Honey Stinger for some quick energy, but I wasn’t really hungry.  I was awake, but the legs just did not want to move.  My only thought was how I could move forward faster to end this punishment.  Looking back, it wasn’t that bad, I wasn’t injured or anything, I just had nothing left in the tank at that moment!  The endurance part of the event was made real to me, and I was at the point of pushing beyond my limits and seeing this thought through to the end.  I think this was “the wall” many talk about in a marathon but I had never personally experienced it.

Andra was the next runner up. I told her if she wanted to go ahead and make the exchange a bit early she could, we were losing a lot of time with my current pace.  She did this when I had about ¾ of a mile to go; however, I was not quitting.  I told her to go on and I was going to finish my leg no matter what.  I had 38 miles to run and I was planning on making it through all of them!
Once I got back in the van I was spent.  I wanted nothing more than to sleep; however, this is when the fun began!

Andra sprained her foot four miles into her run, so Kristi set out to take her place.  She went about four miles and was done so with three legs left, we were down to our last two runners!  Henry ran the next leg, he was solid for sure and even passed a runner.  Next up was Andrew - he started out with a solid pace and tore down the highway at a good clip. There was a slight change in the course because of a road closure and there was a lot of confusion at the new turn. Andrew finished the 11th leg and ran about half of the 12th leg when the next van took over to finish the race.

Our team had completed our portion of the race.  Now it was time to head down to Corpus and wait for the last runner to complete the race.  We made our way down about 35 miles and drove through some hard rain.  Apparently this hit the runners for about 30 minutes as well. 
We stopped for a late lunch and we were just glad to be done.  We checked into the hotel and received regular updates on both teams as they made their way to the coast.  Our team completed the race in 38 ½ hours!  The second team came in 27 minutes later just beating the cut off time!

Lessons Learned
Sleep is vitally important in these types of events.  Plan ahead, make sure to have sufficient gear to sleep when you can, either at the checkpoints or on the side of the road along the way.

Running Fuel - we ran out of bananas on day two and - because we were on the same road as a few hundred other runners - all the stores were sold out. 

We even stopped at McDonalds but they would not sell us any! 
Be sure you understand your exchange points! We could have really fallen behind if we had not quickly backtracked when we were at the wrong one.

Finally – make sure you know your teamOne or two of the wrong personalities can make it a miserable experience for the other runners on the team.  Luckily we got along very well.  One other factor to keep in mind is you have to be flexible – when we had to change up the runners due to exhaustion and injury, we had to be flexible enough to just jump in and run when we needed to. 

Both WRC Teams at the Finish Line

Me and my medal!

Team 1

Team 1, Van 1

Monday, August 18, 2014

Eating Guidelines to help transition to real food!

My guidelines to a healthier lifestyle by eating higher quality foods

I am often asked about what I eat and how I make daily food choices.  As a result of all these questions, I wanted to provide some high-level guidelines to friends and fellow athletes.  The best summary I can give you - eat real food! 
Often we are led to believe we are eating real food when we really aren’t.  Even worse, we are led to believe that some of the “fake foods” out there are better for us.  Please keep in mind, this is a guideline and not a strict “do’s and don’t” strategy.  It is about making better choices, not feeling overwhelmed or confused. 
We should all strive to “eat to live” not “live to eat!” 

What to drink:

Sodas/Juices/Energy Drinks - Our bodies are not designed to drink our calories. Sodas, juices, sports drinks, etc. are all filled with sugar and/or fake sweeteners. When you drink these products, you are still left feeling thirsty and you have not given your body any real food to sustain itself.  Do not believe the commercials - you do not need to fuel on sports drinks, like Gatorade, to be more competitive. 
Note that energy drinks like Monster® and Red Bull® are very unhealthy and can be outright dangerous to your health.  Avoid these drinks; they have no place in a healthy lifestyle!
What is the best and easiest way to improve your health? Drink water! We do not need to drown ourselves in it, but choosing water is the best option for your health.  Feel free to squeeze in a lemon or lime for flavoring, which is a healthy option.
Keep your coffee and tea but don’t overdo it.  A few cups a day is ok, but where many people get in trouble is all the flavorings and sweeteners.  Tea and coffee should be plain or with a small amount of heavy crème or coconut crème.  The fat in the crème will help make the drink more satisfying without the sweet stuff.

Eating out:

Fast Food - If you eat fast food, then you will most likely struggle with your health and weight. Fast food today is essentially a product devoid of most nutritional value.  It is a chemically processed food and, for the most part, it does nothing but add empty calories to your diet. Think about this: how can McDonald’s serve a “Big Mac” for the same price it did 20 years ago? The only way they can do this is by using a food that is completely altered and is no longer a real food. Fast food is designed to stay “fresh” for a long time by altering its composition.  Please avoid fast food all together!
Other restaurants (non-fast food) – When I eat at most restaurants, I typically do not order meals right off the menu.  I go for the veggie plates and salads.  I scan the menu to find the healthiest thing on the menu and then order it along with a few other sides.  Most places are very accommodating if you ask politely.  You should not get any push back, you are the customer! 
Keep it simple – just ask for a plate of veggies!  When ordering a salad, ask for the dressing on the side.  The best dressings are non-creamy ones - oil & vinegar are usually your best options.  The best option is to restrict the use of dressings – up to 90% of their ingredients are hidden sugars and other additives.

What about sugar and other sweet stuff?

Sugar is one of the largest contributing factors to obesity today. Sugar and its 40 or so associated friends are hidden in everything - items like ketchup, salad dressing, BBQ sauce, bread, and so much more. It is estimated that almost 80% of foods today contain some form of sugar. Read the labels.  Sugar is used to make food taste better, substituted for missing ingredients such as fat, and is commonly used as a preservative.
Sugar creates problems for the body - it raises insulin levels which will increase fat stores. This is also true for sugar substitutes. They can actually be worse for you because of their chemical composition.  Some of the newer sweeteners have little known long term studies on side effects so be careful.
Here is a list of many other forms of sugar:
You may find it hard to eliminate all forms of sugar, even if you are reading labels.  It can be done, but it takes extra effort to read the food ingredient’s list and know what to look for.  Once you break the sugar addiction, your food will actually taste better.  Fruit will be sweet again and that milk chocolate candy bar will lose all of its appeal.

What about Low-Fat?

Dietary fat does not always equate to added body fat! Fat in your diet is not a bad thing when you eat the right kinds of fat; our bodies actually need fat to stay healthy.  For athletes it’s a great source of dense energy.
How long have we been told to eat low fat foods only to see a huge increase in obesity in America? Eating fat should take place in its natural form: nuts, seeds, avocados, olive and coconut oils, butter, heavy cream etc. When you see products labeled "low fat" or "fat free" - there is usually sugar and/or other chemicals hidden in the food to make up for the taste.
Our bodies do need some fat (10-20%) and athletes tend to need more because of the high density of energy it provides, Do not feel you have to avoid fat, but be careful about how much you eat. Make sure it is good healthy fat.
What about low carb?
There’s a lot of buzz these days about low carb.  I think this statement, when made by others, should fall into two categories.  Low carb by itself can be dangerous because it leads some people to avoid all the healthy carbs which are found in most plants.  No one should be telling you to give up your greens or veggies! 
The other side of low carb is bread, pasta, crackers, beer, and many other packaged foods.  These “carbs” should be avoided.  They are typically highly-processed foods devoid of real nutritional value.  Why do you think the food companies have to fortify the food they make? The raw ingredients are not in their original state when used to make these products.

What about meat?

I am plant powered so I do not consume any meat, which also includes fish and chicken.  I am an ultra runner who has been plant-based for over two years.  I have found that eliminating meat from my diet has given me a tremendous boost in energy and I don’t have any digestion problems (indigestion, diarrhea, etc.).
If you are going to consume meat then keep it “clean” and only eat small portions.  By clean I am referring to buy locally-grown and organic if possible. Our meat sources today are very polluted – they’re saturated with hormones, antibiotics and other unhealthy chemicals so they can “keep it safe” for human consumption. 
Be aware that chicken is not necessary better than beef - meat is meat.  Industrialized chicken farms have as many, if not more, issues with product quality and safety as beef.  It’s not necessarily any better for you.

What about protein?

So where do you get protein especially being plant-based?  I get my protein from plants, especially green leafy ones!  Our bodies only need 8-10% protein in our foods.  Guess how much protein is in a variety of plants?  You guessed it - it varies from 9-10%.  Raw nuts, beans and other legumes are also a good source of protein.

What about dairy?

Our bodies are not designed to drink milk or consume any other dairy products.  We are the only mammal that drinks the milk from another species and we are also the only species that drinks milk after we are weaned from our mother.  Some people are lactose intolerant and can’t have it.  Those who are not lactose intolerant need to be careful because dairy can cause problems with excess mucus and may create other digestion problems.  As with meat, if you are going to eat dairy, then make it the best, cleanest version you can.  Skip the low-fat and just eat the real stuff.  Over-processed dairy is actually worse for you than the real thing.

What about fruit – it’s a sugar right?

Fruit is a great source of nutrition. Fruit is naturally sweet, but can cause issues for some people - especially the high-glycemic fruits like bananas, grapes and melons. Overall, fruit, like all other whole foods, are good for you and very healthy in moderation. Do not feel like you have to avoid fruit because people call it bad or call it sugar. If you are plant-powered it is a great anytime snack. I recommend that you experiment with fruit. Some find it easiest to digest on an empty stomach instead of being used like a desert.  Others may need a fat source with the fructose sugar that comes with fruit. Ultimately, one’s insulin sensitivity will most likely determine how well your body utilities the nutrients from fruit.

Packaged foods:
Packaged and canned food should be viewed with great scrutiny.  Read the labels, avoid packages with more than 7-8 ingredients.  Food with unfamiliar ingredients should be avoided, know what you are putting in your body!

Breads, Pasta, Crackers and Cookies:

These foods should be avoided or limited.  Typically, commercially-available versions of these foods are made with highly-processed ingredients.  There are some homemade versions that are good, but if you are buying them in a store, then limit these foods. 
The challenge, for example, is enriched white flour.  It has little nutritional value and there is usually a high concentration of chemicals, sugar, and salt in these foods.

Foods and Ingredients To Avoid:

Hydrogenated Oil / Trans Fats: This oil is very difficult for the body to digest, raises LDL (the bad cholesterol), and lowers HDL (the good cholesterol).  They are also active agents of heart disease, diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, and cellular deterioration. 
·         Common foods include: vegetable shortening, crackers, cookies, baked goods, salad dressings, breads, and chips
Red Dyes #40 & #3, Yellow Dyes #5 & #6: these have all shown significant links to cancer and thyroid issues.
·         Common foods include: candy, cereals, and frosting
Margarine – there is nothing healthy about margarine!  It’s made from highly-refined oils and even hydrogenated oils.  Your best bet is real butter or alternatives such as almond butter.
Hot Dogs and any other meats high in nitrates – these foods are highly processed and when these nitrates are broken down in the stomach they can have a very adverse effect on the body such as headaches, nausea, and vomiting.
Artificial Sweetener & HFC (high fructose corn syrup) – Splenda® (sucralose), Sweet ’N Low® (saccharin), Equal® (Aspartame), and Sweet One® (Acesulfame) are all linked to increases in cancer.  They still have the same effect on the body as sugar by raising the insulin levels in the blood stream.  HFC is a highly-processed form of corn syrup and most commonly made from GMOs (genetically modified organisms) which also have strong links to cancer.  If you want something sweet, stick with sugar.  It’s the least evil of all of these.  In the end, you will still gain weight using these sweeteners.
Microwave Popcorn – this product is very popular; however, the chemicals used to make microwave popcorn are very dangerous to our health.
MSG (monosodium glutamate)this chemical has been shown to be a neurotoxin and has very negative effects on the body, including migraines, cancers, type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Sodium Benzoate And Potassium Benzoate – commonly found in bread, it is an endocrine disruptor and has been shown to increase rates of cancer.
Olestra – this is a fat substitute that’s a synthesized chemical - most commonly used in fat-free chips.
Other resources:

Nutritional Information & Whole Foods

Food labels have become a long list of unrecognizable chemicals and food derivatives. If you read food labels, do not focus on calories or fat, but focus on ingredients. Any product with more than six or seven ingredients should be avoided. Any food label with ingredients that you have never heard of is a problem! Focus on eating whole, natural foods. Go back to eating the way we are supposed to - from the garden. Stay away from the middle aisles in the grocery stores and you will make better choices. Making meals is easy if we keep the ingredients simple.


Diets do not work, lifestyle changes do! If you continuously chase the latest fad diet, new food report about super foods etc., then you will continue to get frustrated. Diets are temporary and usually create stress on the body because your body thinks that it is starving, especially if you are doing calorie restriction. When you starve your body, your body will do everything it can to retain the fat stores for survival. We cannot change the basic instinct to survive. The only way to lose weight and not starve your body is to change what you eat.


Exercise is very important today because of our lifestyle and conveniences. Our bodies were designed to move. Because we sit at our desk all day, drive cars, go through drive thru’ s and use elevators, our bodies are not moving like they should be. To make up for this, just get out the door and exercise. Whether it is running, walking, hiking, cycling, or going to the gym, get out and move every single day! If you do take up an exercise program, take it slow and easy. The biggest mistake newbies make is going out to hard and getting injured or hurt.

Calorie In / Calorie Out

We are taught that a calorie is a calorie. This is simply not true.  If it were, then we could eat 2,000 calories of sugar and be done for the day, right? If you use calorie restriction to lose weight, then you will quickly find that it is not sustainable. Your challenge is to eat high-quality foods and the calories will take care of themselves. The problem is when we eat foods devoid of nutrition, i.e. processed foods, then the body is still hungry and we need to eat more. When you eat whole, natural, high-quality foods, you will actually eat less food but be healthier in the process.

Drug Problem

We have a huge drug problem in America. We get sick, we take a pill; we have a chronic illness, we take a pill; we cannot sleep, take a pill. How about this approach: if you are sick, then look at what is causing it. Chronic illness such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, arthritis, impotence, sleep disorder, headaches etc. can almost all be alleviated, or at least reduced, to manageable levels by changing our diet. Not only can we cure these diseases - we can also have a huge impact on long-term illness such as cancer and obesity.

How To Get Started

Starting today, do something to get you going. You know what you need to do - you just need to start doing it! I did not make all of these changes in a day.  As I stated before it’s a journey. Take one idea above and embrace it. Make it your own and try it for a month. What I found through my journey is this: when I made a change and felt better - I wanted to do more. Then I changed another thing, and so on. It does not have to be difficult or painful. I enjoy life more today because I am living to my fullest potential. I sleep better, feel better, have more energy, and I have not been sick or injured in two years! How is that for living proof!