Sunday, December 30, 2012

Healthy Resolutions

As we approach the New Year and many of us make resolutions to change something, I thought I would provide some helpful suggestions for those wanting to take better care of their own health!
First, I suggest you start with small changes!  The reason resolutions fail (usually within the first few weeks) is we take on too much change at one time.  People ask me all the time “there is no way I could do what you have done” and I agree with them to a point, you cannot do it all at once!  My journey began with small changes.  As I saw how the changes where helping me live better then I made more changes.

Small changes could be as simple as drinking mostly water and given up the sodas, tea or milk.  You could start with walking 2 miles several days a week and maybe adding some light running into that walk.  How about eating less, force yourself not to finish everything on your plate, especially at restaurants.  DON”T supersize!  Maybe you could make one meal a week without meat, eliminate fried foods, and start taking your lunch to the office.  Any one of these small changes can make a huge difference over time.

Second suggestion – read books about natural health and healing.  I have really enjoyed inspiration stories about people who have overcome huge challenges and changing their lifestyle.  Note I did not say diet books!  Diets do not work, lifestyle changes do.  My other post has suggestions about reading material and websites.  If you are not a reader then try podcast or audio books.  I am a terrible reader so most of the books I have are audiobooks.

Third suggestion is to be patient.  When I started my journey 18 months ago, I could not run a single mile, I was 60lbs overweight and I eat horribly.  It took almost 4 months for others to notice the changes in my appearance; however, I could tell the difference in how I felt within a few weeks.  Remember it may have taken you years or your lifetime to become unhealthy; you will not fix it overnight.  Your persistence will pay off and do not get discouraged.  Even if you break down and blow off all your changes on a binge just go back to them, 1 week of the old habits will not undo months of good ones.

Finally do not use the scale to judge your progress, it will only discourage you.  Listen to your body and use your clothes as a guideline.  Your body is an amazing machine and you know when you eat bad food, get indigestion, and become tired after an unhealthy meal.  Take on your challenge as a way of living, not fixing a problem.  Make your changes permanent and take them slowly.

Fad diets can work because they shock the body, deprive you of calories in the short run, but you are in it for the long haul.  Do not join a program that counts calories or has some point system, your body will tell you when you are hungry and will tell you when it is full IF you will take the time to listen to it.  In addition, any diet that restricts natural foods is a sign that it is unhealthy.  Fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts in their natural state cannot be bad for you because God gave them to us to eat!  When people say stay away from starchy foods or carbohydrates, they are wrong!  What they should be saying is saying is stay away from processed or refined foods.

What I have noticed most about my own change is I eat a whole lot less when I eat the right foods.  I do not ever starve myself and I eat what I want; I just changed what I want to eat for the better.
If you decide to go the gym that is great, but remember that aerobic exercise is the key.  Lifting weights is fine, but you must include 30-45 minutes of sweating, either by running, elliptical or cycling.  Lifting a few weights will not change your overall appearance and does little to make you healthier.

Good luck and I hope to see a better you in 2013!!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Disease is not normal!

Disease is not normal!

Unless you live under a rock, you see illness and disease everywhere.  I think it is so prevalent today that our society accepts it as normal; well I will rock the boat and claim it is far from normal.  As a society, we should be very concerned about the rampant rise of chronic illness and disease.

Now I am not a doctor and have no formal medical training, I will just take the approach of common sense and the results I have seen in my own life.  I believe that almost all disease (especially chronic) can be traced back to our diet and lifestyle.  We have become a society of the pill, the cure or a fix in a bottle.  Well the cure in a bottle is a deception, it is not a cure, and it is just a clever assembly of chemicals to mask, hide or trick the body.  Why do you thinking there do are so many side effects, when we change one thing with chemicals we then have other side effects.

Here are some basics – high cholesterol has the largest impact to our heart and arteries.  Bad cholesterol comes from animal products – period!  The less animal products you eat the better your cholesterol will be.  This is meat of any kind (including eggs) and dairy products like milk and cheese.  Many people do not know this – we mask these products as being good for us but it is a lie.  Anything you think you need to get from animal products can be found by eating the right mix of fruits, vegetables and seeds. 

Protein - the big challenge!  You can get all the protein you need from nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables and so many other things.  Over eating protein is actually a bad thing, it takes the body a tremendous amount of energy and resources to expel all the excess protein many people eat.

Our food is like fuel for our cars.  If your car breaks down from bad gas or putting water it the tank, do we blame the engine (our bodies) or do we look at what we are putting in our cars like the fuel, i.e. our food!
Our bodies are very resilient and can make miraculous improvements if given the right food.  Why not look at only eating the foods God gave us in nature, like fruit, vegetables, nuts & seeds? 

When we accept cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, headaches, or whatever as a part of life or normal then we will not seek the truth.  The truth can be found by looking at non-western cultures, their diets and much lower disease rates.  They live much healthier lives than we do!

We are bombarded with messages of how meat and dairy are required to sustain us and are good for us.  This is a lie – we do not have to consume these products to be healthy.  Look at the source of those messages and their advertising, it comes from the industries that produce these products and give millions of dollars to Washington to help their cause.

If we can make the correlation of smoking to lung cancer then why do we refuse to see that other illness like cancers, heart disease, arthritis etc. comes from our diets!

If you want to see the facts, review the data and become a much healthier you then I encourage you to check it out for yourself.  I have and I am living proof that you can change who you are and how you feel!

The China Study -
Forks over Knives -
Dr. John McDougall -
Dr. Michael Greger M.D -

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Why we are sick all the time

Health and Diet
As Americans, we have lost the connection between our bodies and our health.  We eat what we were told to eat growing up, we see the tempting foods on the commercials, we believe the ads, etc!  When it comes to eating, we are the only species on the planet that is confused!  Then to top it all off, we feed our pets the same type of food that we eat and wonder why they have the same diseases we have!
I firmly believe that many of the diseases we have today can be tied back to our food.  We eat foods that are so unhealthy, processed and full of chemicals and then years later we wonder why we have cancer or other chronic diseases.  Our healthcare system is great at fixing our injuries, making us prettier, and providing drugs to make us live longer.  However the health profession does not really help us be healthy!  I am not slamming the industry as a whole, but Dr.’s are taught to treat disease, and they spend very little time helping us prevent it.
Over the last 50 years chronic illness in the west has exploded – ever stop to wonder why?  Sure we live longer (that trend may change soon with the rampant obesity) but do we live better lives?  Just look around you, look at the kids today; our nation is full of fat people!  It is not due to a gene, it is not because we are wealthier, it is because of what we put into our bodies!
If you look at the traditional Eastern cultures, they do not have the same chronic illness we have, their cancer rates are very low, and they are skinnier!  Why?  Because they eat the way they have eaten for centuries!  Only when these cultures take on a more western lifestyle do these diseases start to show up and become common.
I hear people all the time say – I cannot run a mile, I can’t be skinny, I cannot do…well the fact is you can, BUT you must go back to nature.  It won’t happen overnight but it can happen.
The government is also to blame, our food charts keep changing, we subsidize crappy food, and we allow marketers to tell us anything can be healthy.  Well I do not see how our risk of disease will be decreasing anytime soon.
Chronic illness can be traced back to lifestyle in most cases, whether we choose to believe it or not.  Take smoking for example, most cases of lung cancer is tied back to smoking right?  Well can’t we assume that most intestinal cancer could be tied back to food, or breast cancer or prostrate cancer?  If we feed our bodies in an unhealthy manner then it cannot take care of itself and it will eventually start to break down.
There are countless studies to back up my points but I will limit this post to my own summary.  Our bodies are powerful and amazing machines that adapt well to our environment; we just have to give it a chance to adapt to a healthy environment.
Our society is all about the quick fix, the magic pill or the almighty cure – well in the long run the only way to live a healthy productive life and stay away from the Doctors office is to make the changes now and live a long healthy life the natural way!

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Mind

The Mind
Part of any journey includes your outlook on that journey.  For me, changing my lifestyle has also forced me change my attitude and beliefs about my lifestyle choices.  As an overweight ex-marathon runner (pre lifestyle change), I would eat almost anything, drink as much as I wanted and just lived in the moment not thinking of the long term damage I was doing to myself.  So one day I realized I was making very unhealthy choices, I was always lethargic and tired.  I am supposed to be the outgoing salesman but all I wanted to do after lunch was take a nap!
As a part of my journey, I had to change how I looked at food.  We eat to live, not live to eat!  I will say it again – we eat to live, to sustain our bodies and to be healthy.  We have to look at food in a different way if we want to change.  I am not proposing you eat a diet of rice cakes and water, but there are plenty of choices to choose from.  We must believe every day that the choices we make will impact how we look, live and feel.
Once you start to change the choices you make it becomes a lot easier.  I did not make all of my changes overnight, it was a gradual process.  I started with fruit in the morning, then went to eliminating most fried foods, then left the meat off the plate, and so on.  Water is key; you should drink 90% or more of water!
We are conditioned to believe the commercials and listen to our current cravings.  The challenge is to change the cravings by changing your daily choices.  I do not miss french fries, I do not miss hamburgers, and I do not miss a lot of sweets every day.  My belief system tells me I do not have to give up these foods entirely; I just choose not to eat them today!
Our bodies will adapt to the food we eat, once you quit sodas for example, after a week or so you loose the craving for them.  If you go back and have one it mostly likely will not taste the same or as good as it used to.
The other challenge we have is we are inundated with mixed messages – drink milk, don’t drink milk – eat meat for protein, don’t eat meat cause we cannot digest it and so on.  My suggestion is to research and consider the best options for you!  Remember advertisers spend millions of dollars trying to convince us their foods are best.  In the end – think of it this way – was that food given to use by nature?  Is that food minimally processed, is it natural?  Also consider how you feel after you eat, if you eat a big steak dinner with all the fixings’ are you ready to go out and run – or just stay on the coach and take a nap.  But if you eat a lite meal of veggies how do you feel?
We must train ourselves to listen to our bodies, eat what nature gave us and quit being so confused and frustrated.
At the end of the day, just make gradual positive changes.  I did not lose 60 lbs in a month, or even 6 months, it took a year!  It was gradual, it was fuel by healthy food, running, workouts the gym and lots of water!
Good luck and I hope to see you on the trail somewhere!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Becoming an Athlete

Becoming an athlete....

As a part of my journey to better living I went back to what I knew and that was running.  I never played football, was barely ok at baseball, and did have some success in soccer.  Running was the only activity that I really was able to stick to.  It is easy, requires minimal equipment and it can be done almost anywhere.  Running for me has been a great way to stay healthy, lose weight, feel better and have more energy.

What many people do not realize is when you run (or insert sport of choice here) you fundamentally change your view of the world.  You become more positive, happier, you sleep better and you make better lifestyle choices.  You know that when you eat bad, have to much to drink, or stay up to late then your run suffers and it becomes more like work.  When you cross the threshold of thought that says “I have to run today” and it becomes “I want to run” then you have arrive, you are an athlete.  To often we think the term athlete means a football star, an Olympic runner, or a professional “insert sport here.”  This cannot be further from the truth!  If you enjoy your sport then that sport helps to define you.  When you wake up and think about when I can run again, or when is my next workout or how do I fit this into my day, then you are an athlete.

So many times people with good intentions start a program and they start it for the wrong reason.  They say I must run to lose weight, I must work out to be fit, I have to do this or that.  Quickly the luster of losing weight or hanging out with friend wears off and we go back to our same old routine because it is the easier option.  Becoming an athlete changes your attitude.  It does not matter if it takes you 15 minutes to complete a mile, it is your attitude and desire to continue to run that will make a lasting impact.

Find something, anything, that you really enjoy doing and it will become your passion.  Yes we should cross train and do other activities, but that is how we can enjoy the primary sport more!

Don’t live life on the sidelines, step up and tack action and stick with it.  It takes 6 weeks for it to become a habit so be patient, have fun, and don’t over do it.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Better Eating

I have often been asked what are you doing to lose all that weight.  I say I am not trying to lose weight but working on getting healthy!  It is all about balance.  

Our society is obsessed with diets and fads - all you need to do is go back to nature.  Fruits and veggies are always best.  Real sugar and real butter are ok in small quantities.  Meat should not been the main course at every meal, but if eaten – it should be more of a side dish.

Don’t feel like you have to finish all that is on your plate, just eat what you want to be full and STOP!

Our groceries stores are filled with lots of processed foods and ingredients no one can even pronounce.  HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) is in everything now and it is one of the worst things you can eat.  If you pick up an item and it has more than 6 ingredients – then put it back.  If you do not know what the ingredients are, put it back.  If the packaging says healthy or diet food, then put it back.  

Our government has our nation on a very dangerous path (look at obesity, diabetes, cancer compared to 30 years ago).  If the food you eat has stated nutritional qualities that do not come from nature – then it was modify to include fake or added nutrition.  Nature proves the best source of nutrition – not food companies that just want to sell more items that are cheaply made.  Isn't it interesting that we subsidies foods to the point where a dollar can buy a candy bar or a bag of chips, but not fruit.  When you buy cheap products with high calories then you will be fat!

Drink water!  Sodas, diet drinks, flavored water, etc do nothing but give you empty calories and it does not quench your desire for water.

It is all about lifestyle changes - no Adkins diet, or no sugar diet will work completely on its own.

So go out and grab that apple, enjoy life and move (whatever exercise you like) and you will see the results.  it wont happen overnight, but you will feel the changes in a few weeks.

I have also read the books The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food and Fit for Life (old book but very enlightening).

I hope this helps.  Good luck and good eating!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Get Moving

I thought I would start where I started......get moving.

Many people are drawn into quick exercise schemes, fancy gadgets, having to go to the gym, whatever.  Let me break it down into a simple formula - just move!  And move a lot!  If you are not sweating then you are not getting better or stronger.

I don't mean go out and run 2 miles the first time out - that is crazy!  I just want to encourage you to put enough effort into a routine that you sweat for 20-30 minutes.  Whether it is a bike, walking fast, lite jogging, a machine at the gym.  It does not necessarily matter what you do - just do it!

For me it started by running a bit down the road, maybe a minute and then walking.  Repeat, Repeat, Repeat......just focus on doing what is comfortable until you can go a little further each day.  I especially encourage multiple types of exercises.  I like riding my bike, so I ride it once a week.  I also used the machine at my hotel when I traveled and recently I joined a gym.

If you are in pain while working out then stop, you are over doing it.  You must pace yourself, be patient and take your time.  Feel the burn, feel the soreness, feel the stress but I should not be painful and you should not be huffing and puffing and exhausted!

I have seen way to often a sedentary person go out, try to over do it, get injured and then quit.  Then the excuses come rolling in, I can't run - I got hurt.  I can't do.....insert other activity.  Don't be a quitter, be one who keeps trying things until you find the sport that is right for you!

Even if you can only walk, then walk as far as you can, set a goal to go further every day.  Try a lite jog, even for just 30 seconds.  Just slightly increase your effort to get better over time.

The body is an amazing and efficient machine.  Once it realizes that hey this person means business, then it will get with the program as well and become stronger.

Running for me has been my primary exercise because all it requires is a decent pair of shoes (nothing fancy or expensive) and for me my favorite music blaring in my ears.  You can also trying listening to books.  I have an audible account and love it.

It took about 4 months before I could even run a complete mile end to end, however in that 4 months I went from walking a mile to walking/running up to 4 miles.  Go further and faster as you body gets stronger.

Lifting weights is OK, but for weight lose and endurance nothing beats getting your heart rate up and you body moving.

So what are you waiting on, lace up those shoes and hit the roads...............

Why and How I started

So I have been asked a hundred plus times....How did you do it?  What are they talking about you ask?

Well over the past 12 months, I went from being overweight and sedentary to being an athlete training to run a Marathon.  Yes, thats right - 26.2 miles!

I have lost about 60 lb.'s, have run up to 15 miles at one time and now logging 25+ miles a week.

You may be asking why?  Well I am not completely sure.  After my 25th High School reunion back in June 2011 I decided I needed to get back in shape.  I hid my 60 extra pounds well, or so I thought.  I have a large frame and at 6'2" I can carry a lot of extra baggage and not look too bad.  However I realized once the transformation started to take place, I realized that I did not hide that extra weight very well at all.  My face got thinner, my waist is 6 inches smaller, my shirt sized dropped from a XL to L and.....well you get the picture.

So know you are asking what diet did you use........

No diet, notice the first 3 letters in diet are "die!"  I cannot go hungry, I am too weak minded for that.  I changed my lifestyle, I ate whatever I wanted, I just changed what I wanted to eat!  My basic approach is "all natural."  I use the knowledge that I have gained over the years through books and research, use a little common sense, and a firm belief that God gave us all the right ingredients to live well if we choose not to ignore it.

A little background:

Back in 1989, I was fairly skinny but kinda pudgy.  I started eating better, started running and eventually ran my first marathon on 1995.  In fact I have run 5 marathons, one year I ran Chicago and Dallas within 2 months. I looked great, felt great and!  Yes, my excuse was my job and my kids.  As my kids got older (I have 5 of them) and I started coaching, traveling, being more involved with the community, I gave up on the running and slowly hung up my shoes.  I also let my diet go to hell, eventually eating anything and everything.  I would yo-yo back and forth, lose 10 here, gain 10 there, just getting by and not caring much anymore.

I went from a size 34 to a size 38 in about a year, ballooned up to 240 ish and stayed there for 12 years.

Will any of this work for you?  I have no idea, my ideas are foreign to many but do make sense if you are open minded, they go against a lot of conventional thinking and may not be as easy for you as it was for me.  Anytime you speak of all natural, looking at what God gave us and how he designed us and other seemingly simple and basic ideas, there are a lot of professionals and health/fitness gurus ready to shoot it down.  That is o.k., because what I did is working, I am never hungry, I am healthy, and I am injury free.  I set out and live to prove them wrong.

Our TV's are filled with ads that temp us to eat the bad stuff, say their product is diet food or healthy, tell us to take medication for all our ailments and then wonder why we are all fatter and unhealthier as a society.

I will attempt to use this blog to share my thoughts, my ideas, my experiences with you.  It is up to you to decide if it is for you.  I have nothing to sell, nothing to gain, but I do feel compelled to share my message and hopefully help someone make a change that may add years to their life, fitness into their daily routine and enjoy living a little more.  In fact I challenge any reader to view this blog and be skeptical, but my challenge to you is to check it out, do your own research and decide for yourself.  BUT if you are overweight, sedentary and want to change, I at least challenge you to make some changes somewhere in your life

I hope you enjoy!