Thursday, March 20, 2014

Living Plant Powered In A Meat-Eating House!

First of all, whenever one person in the house makes dramatic changes, they cannot expect others to follow immediately no matter how hard you try.  Over the course of a year, I went from eating the SAD (Standard American Diet) to eating tons of fruits, veggies and ultimately - giving up meat and 98% of the dairy!  To add more to the equation, I do not eat sugar or processed grains except for the occasional treat. 

I am a father of five kids and have been married for 27 years.  While the family sees the dramatic results of my changes, they are not on board with many of the changes I have made.  I went from a sedentary, overweight person, to a plant-powered ultra-athlete.  We cannot force our ideas onto others - they must make them their own and I have seen some changes in their eating habits.  We put some limits on the things the kids have access to at home, but our panty still has cereal, cookies, chips, and a fridge full of milk, cheese and meat.

For me personally, I support what the kids want to eat (within reason), and I make and eat my own foods.  Since I am not the main cook during the week it works out pretty good.
On the weekends when we have family dinners, I still cook a regular meal which includes some sort of meat for everyone.  I am the Grill Master and can still cook a mean steak or chicken; however, I have changed the meats that I buy.  I only buy high-quality meats and avoid the processed stuff all together.  This has raised the price of the meal, but I know in the long run it is well worth it.

I also buy most of the foods that I eat, making sure to get enough to share with everyone else.  The kids do eat more fruit and my wife is now making smoothies in the morning.  In the long run I think they will come around to eating healthier, but when your kids are athletic and relativity thin - they do not see the down side to what they eat.

This is my challenge!  I made this change after the kids – except one - were all teenagers, so their ways were already set.  It is much easier to start them on the right path early in life, but that is not the case here.
If the head of the grocery-shopping is on board, then it makes the journey much easier as they control the food that comes into the house.  Limiting the amount of processed foods is key and providing lots of healthy options will help them to make better choices.

The way I have managed to maintain my healthier lifestyle is to cook simple dishes for myself. I am a man so simple is good!  I do pretty well eating my own dishes without adding a lot of complication to dinner time.  I make my own smoothie in the morning, take my own lunch to work, and graze on raw food throughout the day.  So when dinner time arrives I do not need a very large meal. 

I share my thoughts with the family, share examples of how much better I feel, and from time to time I mention to them what the foods they eat do to their bodies in the long run.  In the end they will remember these lessons, but it is up to them to follow them.

Finally, do not make dinnertime a time of stress!  You want the kids to feel comfortable eating as a family, and some sacrifices and compromises will need to be made.  If kids grow up resenting dinnertime that can have long term negative effects on them and may foster a bad relationship with food.  This can lead to much larger issues as they begin to see the negative effects of their lifestyle.

In the end, stay true to your beliefs; create a positive environment around food, and work hard to get them to eat healthier foods by making it fun, creative and enjoyable.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Why working out can make you fatter!

I know what you are thinking:  B.J. - you have lost your mind!   Now you’re telling me not work out?  Well not exactly….to build on my previous blog about health and fitness, I wanted to dive into an area where I think many people have it wrong.  Working out by itself will not make you lose weight. In fact - some people may actually gain a little weight.  Here are my observations and see if you can relate.

“I run to eat!” 
People think just because they run or work out, they can eat whatever they want!   Anyone ever hear of Jim Fixx?   The challenge here is that running will burn a few extra calories, but it will never overcome a bad diet.  To burn approximately 2500/3000 calories or, as some say “a pound of fat,” you would have to run the distance of a marathon – 26.2 miles!  Ready, Set, Go!   Ok, now that you are back, let me continue. 

If we use this type of logic - then we have a lot of running to do!  What is even worse is saying “I can have the extra ice cream or cookie because I do run”.  The running may help with the weight you have now, but if you are adding even more bad food choices, then you may add more weight!

“Running or working out makes you hungrier! “
This IS a problem – as you work out, your body will crave more food and calories.  If you work out and do not add the extra calories (because you are cutting back) then you will feel miserable and be very lethargic - making it even harder to continue working out.  Listen to your body, feed it when it is hungry, but do not feed it junk!

“I use Sports products to make my workouts more productive!”
This is the industry’s biggest lie and myth!  You do not need Gatorade, or power bars, or anything else for a typical 1 - 1.5 hour workout.  Our bodies are designed with about 90 minutes of pure fuel in our system.  We do not need to consume unnecessary calories through sugary sports products to get us through them.  Note – I am not referring to endurance athletes or longer workouts.  If your workouts are in the 60-90 minutes range, then all you need is water – period!!!!  Water is the best thing to take.

Have you even been to a marathon or a triathlon and seen the athletes that are at the back of the pack?  Do you not think these folks are working out on a regular basis?  Then why are they still heavy if they have been at it for a while?  It is because they have only changed one aspect of their life and not dealt with the food!

I also see a lot of people at the gym taking some protein powder or “secret” drink during their workouts.  What do they hope to accomplish?  By the time the product reaches the muscles through digestion, you are home taking a shower and the workout is finished!  Most of these products also contain sugar and chemicals which are detrimental to our health.

The lesson here is this:  do not assume that working out will overcome a bad diet.  The truth is it takes a very balanced approach.  Don’t take television shows like the “Biggest Loser” at their face value, and don’t be lured in by fitness gadgets.  Nothing worth having is ever easy and when you take short cuts - you will be disappointed in the end.

Work hard, stay committed, but do it the right way.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Top Do’s and Don’ts before a Big Race:

Do not wear new shoes!  You can buy them before the race but do not run in them during the race!

Do not try something new such as new fuel, new socks, new waist belt, etc.

Do not overeat before a race – you always hear about pasta loading but overdoing this will do nothing but send you to the port o potties on race day!

Do lay out all your gear the night before in one place – this includes shoes, socks, shorts, shirt, race bib, watch, headphones and waist belt.

Do apply glide or Vaseline very liberally on areas that tend to chaff and on your feet

Do bring an extra shirt or jacket that you can toss aside after the race begins – this will prevent you from becoming too cold before the gun!

Do not be late – this will create a lot of extra stress on race day, plan your route to the race ahead of time

Do not worry if you do not get a full night’s sleep the night before, it is ok to be nervous.  However be sure to get as much rest as possible the day leading up to the race.

Do not try and cram in extra miles days before the race, this will do nothing but make you tired and will not allow you to run on fresh legs

Do not over hydrate!  This may seem contradictory but runners tend to drink too much water before the race and then have to make multiple stops early in the race

Do start slow, even below your race pace.  Allow your body to get in a groove in the first few miles.  If you let the adrenalin take over you may find yourself too tired at the end of the race

Do smile at the cameras – show the world you are having fun and this is YOUR big day!

Do trim those toe nails days before a race, this will prevent bruising or toenail loss

Do thank the volunteers and police officers along the course, this will also help you relax

Do charge all your devices the night before – GPS, headsets, watches, phone, iPod etc.

Do bring extra clothes and shoes to change in to after the race, especially if you are staying to cheer on others

Do bring cash for parking

Why Health and Fitness are not the same!

Health is what we put into our bodies and how we live; fitness is what we do with our bodies through physical activity!

Let me explain further…..

When someone says “healthy” they should be referring to a person’s quality of nutrition - how their vital signs look, how balanced and normal their blood is, how they typically feel on a regular basis and so on.  You can be a healthy couch potato, minus the chips of course.  Health is derived by eating high quality, nutritious foods given to us by Mother Nature.  As we feed our bodies a variety of high quality natural foods, our bodies will reward us with good health, very few illnesses if any, and a long life barring any genetic issues or injuries.

Fitness is our ability to run, lift weights, perform well in sports, etc.  Fitness is derived from a high level of physical activity.  This can be achieved by doing repetitive sports or workouts, lifting weights, yoga, and many other forms of regular exercise.  The body has an amazing ability to increase endurance and increase its ability to perform at higher levels as you regularly do the sport or activity.  Fitness may also be defined by our tone and physique.

So what does this all mean to you?  You see a person at the gym and think “WOW that person is fit!” but they could have underlying issues with their health.  I personally know many people who are very active and strong, but have very poor health.  You could meet a person who can’t run a mile, but they can be very healthy on the inside and out.  We tend to think of becoming healthy by working out.  I say not so fast… really should be striving to have both!

By making changes in your diet you can make the fitness part easier and more rewarding.  With proper fuel for the body - your workouts can become easier, you will experience faster recovery, and your level of endurance will quickly improve.  I tend to recommend to folks that they must make changes in both areas of life.

I run across people all the time that want to lose weight and the only thing they change is their activity level.  I think going to the gym or out for a run is great, and I hope it leads to other changes, but it will not make you healthier.  Once you understand these principles then you can make more informed decision.

My own story reveals how I was able to make a lot of changes over the course of a year – both in my own health and physical endurance.  Balancing both sides of the equation made my own journey enjoyable and injury free!