Monday, December 31, 2012

You Can't Kill Rock & Roll

This is a totally random post and has nothing to do with food. I've been thinking about all of the concerts I've been to in my life.  I began going to them consistently when I was 14 or 15 and haven't stopped.  The music style has changed but I still enjoy going - as do my wife and kids. 

Here is a guess of the bands I saw live: Judas Priest (3x), Iron Maiden (2x), Scorpions, Def Leppard, Krokus, Pat Travers, Gary Moore, Aerosmith, 38 Special, Triumph, Night Ranger, Motley Crue, Mylon LeFevre, Accept, Ratt, Quiet Riot, Night Ranger, Metallica (2x), Kiss (2x), WASP, AC DC, Van Halen, Bon Jovi (2x), The Fat Boys, Black Sabbath, Ronnie James Dio, Wasp, Deliverance, Armored Saint, Fastway, SuperChic[k] (2x), Newsboys (2x), Queensryche, Skillet, Toby Mac (2x), Audio Adrenaline, Run Kid Run, Pillar, Hawk Nelson, Trans Siberian Orchestra (2x), Coney Hatch, Ozzy, Ted Nugent (3x), Jackal 2x (once in a club in Norfolk when they were doing G&R cover songs), Nelson, KJ-52, Kids in the Way, Great White, Third Day, and Jennifer Knapp. I'm sure there are others I've forgotten.

  • First Concert - Iron Maiden & Judas Priest.  Axe was a no-show. (Kalamazoo, MI)
  • Concerts I had tickets to but couldn't go for various reasons: Molly Hatchet & Sammy Hagar (Kalamazoo, MI) and Great White & White Snake (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Cheapest Concert - Def Leppard, Krokus, Gary Moore for $9.00 (South Bend, IN)
  • Best Light Show - Trans Siberian Orchestra (Grand Rapids and Battle Creek, MI)
  • Best Show - Queensryche & Metallica (San Diego, CA)
  • Coolest Concert Moment - One of my friends caught the neck to Paul Stanley's (Kiss) guitar when he smashed and tossed it (Battle Creek, MI).
  • Worst Concert - tie, Bon Jovi and 38 Special (Norfolk, VA) and Van Halen (Chicago, IL) zzzz.
  • Biggest Disappointment - Steven Tyler forgetting 90% of the words to songs he wrote and stopping the show early.  Good thing they were only opening for Terrible Ted (Kalamazoo, MI)
  • Best opening act - Iron Maiden (Kalamazoo, MI)
  • Loudest Concert - AC DC during For Those About to Rock (Kalamazoo, MI)
  • Bands I Still Want to See - U2, The Fray, Building 429, and Switchfoot
  • Best Guitar Solo - Probably Richie Samboro (sp) from Bon Jovi (Ka;l
  • Why am I here show? - Fat Boys, after a Philadelphia 76ers game.  (Spectrum in South Philly)
  • Best Vocals - Geoff Tate, Queensryche
  • Best Drum Solo - Drummer from Nelson.  I know, shocking. The only reason I remember that show. Guy was awesome.
  • Best Rhythm section - Third Day
Just a walk down memory lane.  Do you have any to share?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Drink, Drank, Drunk

It's close to New Year's Eve and many people will be knocking back some adult beverages.  The problem with it is that many of us are far from "adult" acting while under the influence.  Libations are often referred to as a social lubricant.  It helps people unwind and eradicates shyness.  Perhaps that can be a good thing but not always.

There is a fine line between celebration and inebriation and many people simply lose track of that line.  I'm not trying to be preachy but the truth is that liquor really isn't good for us.  Any of the health benefits that can be derived from wine can be obtained in other methods without the riskiness of STD, DUI, or DOA.

If you're going to have a drink or two please be safe - prearrange transportation or stay at home.  Don't overload your liver, kidneys, and brain with too much alcohol.  Hangovers aren't fun.  Spending the night in a drunk tank is not fun.  Paying DUI fees are not fun.  Spending the night in the hospital is not fun.

So consider the risk vs. reward.  Also, please read this article


Red Beans & Rice

I'm not cajun or creole and my family never served red beans & rice.  I actually didn't visit NOLA untl this past summer.  Many years ago I had a cook book from Chef Paul Prudhomme and one from Jeff Smith (The Frugal Gourmet).  Of course the former is filled with Cajun and Creole recipes and the latter has a good section of NOLA comfort food.  Recently I've created an amalgamation of the many and modified it appropriately.

Red beans and rice is traditionally served on Monday's - which was wash day.  The domestic goddess of the home was busy washing laundry and needed a dish that basically cooked itself (long before crock pots I suppose).  So the tradition was created. 

I'm making this part of my New Years Day celebration.  Not everyone enjoys black eyed peas so this will be a nice alternative.


1 pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted
1 1/2 cups chopped sweet onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped green bell peppers
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon salt (or no salt seasoning)
1/2 teaspoon each black pepper, white pepper and red pepper
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 quarts vegetable stock 
water for soaking
Cooked brown rice (cook it in stock rather than water for better flavor)
Dash of liquid smoke
1 tsp tabasco sauce
Chopped scallions for garnish


Rinse and soak beans for 8 hours.  Drain water and rinse beans again.  In appropriately sized stock pot saute onion, garlic, bell pepper, and celery until vegetables are soft (but not mushy).  Add beans and stock and bring mixture to a boil.  Toss in all other ingredients (but not liquid smoke, tabasco and scallions).  Allow mixture to simmer for about 2 hours.  If it becomes too thick add a little water or stock and stir. 
After it has cooked for 2 hours remove some of the mixture (a few cups) and blend with an immersion blender and return to the pot.  This will make it creamier and thicker.  If you do not have an immersion blender use a potato masher - be creative! Adjust seasonings to your taste.  Every family is different.
Add liquid smoke and tabasco sauce and simmer for an additional 15-30 minutes. 
Serve in a large bowl.  Mound of rice, topped with beans, sprinkled with scallions.  Ta-da. My son and I enjoy adding hot sauce to our bowl. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Celebrity Vegans

It's close to the end of the year and the press begins the inundation of lists: Best movie, best dressed, coolest hipster, Time person of the Year.  You know the drill.  I'm a sucker for lists too.  My favorite: 100 books every man should read (sorry ladies, athough yours is totally awesome too!).

So I started thinking about the most influential vegans and started making a mental list.  You know, Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Clinton, Arian Foster (really?), Tony Gonzales, Woody Harrelson.  The list could go on and on.  I did some initial research and discovered that Tony and Arian aren't really vegans - and that's okay.

Then I realized that I am not either.  Vegan is an easy way for people to understand how I eat.  Most don't understand there are various levels of veganism.  I didn't either until after reading some blogs and reading several books.  I'm totally into eating plants because of a history of heart disease in my family and it's working for me.  Others are in it for different reasons too and I don't know their background to write a post about it. I've not figured out how to say "I eat a whole food plant based diet" and not sound like an absolute dork (in a bad way, trust me I'm not adorkable).

When I was younger I used to act as though I didn't really care what people thought of me - but I did and still do.  I live my life to the best of my ability and do my best to live by principles rather than fads.  Secretly, I'd like nothing better than to be associated with great people like the "Top 10 Celebrity Vegans" but I'm not. People really don't care about what I eat (on a grand scale) and truthfully if someone becomes a herbivore because Alicia Silvestone, Mike Tyson, or Monroe from Grimm is vegan then when or if  they "slip up" what are you going to do?

If you eat plants because of religion, good for you!  If you prefer eating plants because you find killing animals morally abhorrent - awesome.  Please don't judge me because I am not protesting, wearing hemp clothes, or still attend church on Sunday and they serve meatloaf (that I don't eat) duing a potluck. 

There is alot of room for improvement on how we eat for many different reasons.  Plus there is plenty of space for us to love each other and resist judging others.  Those of us that don't have a moral or spiritual reason are doing our best and it's difficult because we're soley going on willpower and we need your help.


Good Luck Black Eyed Peas

From my southern tradition and background I've been taught that eating black eyed peas on New Years Day was considered good luck. Not sure if it is true but it sure is a tasty dish.

This dish should be started the night before with a good soaking of the peas.


2 cups dried and sorted black eyed peas
1 sweet onion coarsley chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
2-3 ribs of celery chopped
2-3 cloves garlic minced
1, 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp each black, white, and red pepper
favorite no-salt seasoning to taste
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
red hot sauce or vinegar based pepper sauce to top

Cover beans in pot and soak overnight.  Drain and refill with fresh water.  Cover by about an inch.  Bring to a boil and then set to simmer.  If you use a timer set it for an 1 1/2 hours.  While peas are simmering add onion, garlic, red pepper, and celery and saute for 3-5 minutes.  Add mixture to peas and stir well.  Add all other ingredients except tomatoes and liquid smoke.  When timer goes off add tomatoes and liquid smoke and cook and additional 15-30 minutes or when ever peas are done to your liking.  Add water as necessary to pot to keep peas covered.

Guests can top their bowls with hot sauce of their preference. Some people enjoy eating black eyed peas over rice. 


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

$8.00 Milk? Are You Crazy?

Fear mongering never stops in Washington D.C.  We're told that if Congress doesn't intervene then milk prices will skyrocket to $8.00 per gallon.  Oh my, really (hands to face with fearful look of disdain!).  PUHLEAZE!

First of all the government should not be involved in any type of price setting (read, fixing) whatsoever.  Our elected officials are a dithering tribe of nincompoops incapable of making anything work correctly much less a complex system such as the price of milk (or any other commodity).

Secondly, if milk prices were to climb people have other choices (plant milks) or even water that are not subsidized by an invasive and intrusive government.  Furthermore, demand for a product will decrease when price increases.  Production will eventually decline and a favorable market price will once again be established.  Of course the politicians in California and Wisconsin will not sit by idly while their (sorry, I can resist) cash cows are sacrificed.  My economic acumen is quite elementary but I encourage you to visit places where one can be educated and not indoctrinated by a buffoonish media.

People not drinking milk or eating dairy products might be the best thing about a fiscal cliff.  Unfortunately, prices will fall and people will once again eat and drink dairy that is harmful and unnecessary.

Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise

The following scripture could possibly be the most often argued about, misunderstood, over used, under used and misquoted in the entire New Testament. The "positive confession" and "name it and claim it" groups often hijack scriptures and beat them into oblivion until the rest of us simply avoid it for fear of being connected to a particular group.  Others are afraid to believe that God would want people to prosper (read do well) and live healthy lives.  Personally, if God wants me broke and sick I don't want Him or want anything to do with him.  I don't believe that is the case at all though. God has empowered me to prosper and given me the tools to live a healthy life.

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 2)

Changing our minds is the first step for changing our lives.  More people die from self inflicted wounds (obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood pressure, etc) than drunk drivers and homocides. Basically, we're very good at killing ourselves one bite at a time, one drink at a time, one smoke at a time, and one 30-minte sit-com at a time. 

The Adventist movement strongly encourages a plant-based diet.  I'm not Adventist and don't pretend to know or understand their theological standing on many issues.  However, I don't believe that God requires a vegetarian lifestyle. Having said that, I do believe eating a whole-food, plant based diet is better for our health.  Animak products just aren't the best choice with all of the other choices available to us today.

All things are lawful for me but not all things are profitable.

Of course hundreds of years ago one couldn't go to the market and purchase pomegranates, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, collards, almond milk, and zucchini.  International trade has made our ability to eat in healthy manner relatively easy.  Yet, people choose to have their minds clouded with absurd science, folklore, and borderline voodoo on a daily basis.

Where do you get your protein?  If you don't drink milk you will have brittle bones!  Plants are incomplete proteins at best.  All of these and all other plant-based myths have been exposed as poppycock by people such as Dr. Joel Furhman, The China Study, and dozens of others.

Eating a nutritious, healthy diet can be a challenge but is easier now than it has ever been.  It requires focus and long-term thinking but can be done. 

Join me!

New Years Day Hillbilly Hoedown

Although I live in the upper Midwest my families, for the most part, originated from the south: southern Indiana (bordering Kentucky), Tennessee, Virginia, and Missouri.  If you have ever eaten a meal with a southern family you know that it tastes good and is totally unhealthy.  Lots of grease, lard, hocks, salt and many other things that contribute to early graves and aches and pains later in life.

I've been a fan of southern food my entire life and have been working diligently to modify it to improve its nutrititional value.  In all seriousness, southern food is healthy when a little care and forethought is used in its preparation.

Another thing that my hillbilly (I use that term with the utmost respect, trust me) family would do is cook many southern dishes on New Years Day. It's considered good luck and ensures prosperity for the upcoming year. Yes, we still want prosperity even though in many circles it seems to be going out of style.

Why don't you come and set a spell and break bread with us on the 1st?

Black Eyed Peas
Hoppin John
Mixed Greens
Red Beans & Rice
Baked Sweet Potatoes
"Fried" Potatoes
Garic & Serrano Green Beans
Chopped melon
iced tea

Mmmm....Recipes to follow.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Supreme Cream

The ingenuity of many chef's is inspirational and quite amazing.  When I first began eating plants I was in total shock and disbelief that "cream" could be made from cashews.  At first I was like, "No Way!" Then I tried it and am still amazed.

I'm a big fan of soup - especially cream soups.  Cream of mushroom, cream of asparagus, cream of broccoli, cream of potato (e, or no e? Mr. Quayle?), tomato bisque --- they are all just so yummy! It's quite simple actually.  All one needs is a good vegetable stock, vegetable or tuber of choice, herbs, and cream.  Couldn't be any easier, right?

1 cup of RAW cashews

Soak the cashews in water overnight in the refrigerator.  If you're pressed for time, boil the water and cover the cashews for 30-60 minutes.  Drain the water and rinse the cashews.

Put the cashews in a blender and cover with fresh water by about and inch.  The more water used the thinner the cream the less, the thicker.  If using a regular kitchen blender, blend on high for about 2-3 minutes.  Some people prefer to strain the cream through a milk bag or cheese cloth.  Personally, I don't think it's required.

If you're using a professional appliance such as a VitaMix then blend until the graininess of the mixture has dissipated - probably not long.  When I "grow up" I will get a VitaMix but don't have one as yet so I really can't help you there.

This cream base can be used for soups, fettuccine, sour cream, cream based salad dressings, and more.  The sky is the limit.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Dinner: Soupapalooza

I have 3 brothers, 16 nieces & nephews and my own 2 children.  On Christmas day we meet to exchange gifts and "break bread" together.  All of my brothers are great cooks and our meals are interesting.  I'm the only one, however, that follows a plant-based diet.  They are all very respectful of my eating style, though. This Christmas we're having a soupapalooza so to speak.  We will all make  a huge crock of soup and shamelessly plug for King of the Christmas Soup bragging rights.  I'm making what I call Southwest Vegetable Noodle.

 2 quarts of vegetable stock
1 seeded and chopped green pepper
1 seeded and chopped red pepper
1 seeded and chopped yellow pepper
1 coarsely chopped onion
2 cans of drained and rinsed black beans
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 can of chopped and seeded chile peppers
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 package of fajita seasoning
salt, pepper, and cumin to taste
2 cups of your favorite twisty pasta cooked
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
serrano peppers if you desire additional heat

Heat stock pot and add onions and peppers and cook for a few minutes add garlic and cook for an additional minute or two.  Toss in all other ingredients (except cilantro) and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.  Toss in cilantro and simmer for 2-3 minutes and serve piping hot.

Some people enjoy corn or avocado or tomatillos.  The great thing about cooking is that there are no rules.  Get in there and change things up and have fun!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Cooking is My Business and Business is Good

My profession and my passion really do not intertwine.  My Monday - Friday grind is that of an analyst in the world of commercial finance.  The gig is not bad, it pays well and I have a good team.
Cooking is my passion.  My family is extremely tolerant of my adventurous style.  Instead of fighting them on eating vegan I've forced myself to become increasingly creative, while maintaining a strict budget, and found ways to make fruits, vegetables and grains taste --- well tasty. The result has been a  plant-based menu that everyone appreciates with an occasional deviation.
I'm also a cook book junky.  Even prior to embracing a plant-based diet I loved cook books.  I'd watch the Frugal Gourmet and others on TV and devoured their books and I still do.  I just do my best to modify and adapt.  For example, in one of the Frugal Gourmet's books he has a recipe for Gumbo.  I've eliminated all meat and oils and it tastes great.  I visited NOLA over the summer and had a bowl at the Acme Oyster House and can honestly say mine is competitive.
It's extremely difficult to be 100% original while cooking.  I would never, ever plagiarize another's work intentionally.  I am however influenced and inspired by dozens of different chef's and writers.  I start with one of their recipes and usually make it better - at least for my family.  I'm like that old 3M commercial: We make things better.
I'm going to do my best to share some of my best recipes to help you in your journey to improved health.

Awesome Wintery Cruciferous Soup

Winter is the perfect time to whip a batch of soup that "sticks to the ribs" and is oh, so tasty.  The recipe to follow was a big hit with my family and I've stopped telling them "oh and by the way it's healthy too" as that kind of ruins it for them. Here is a recipe I threw together yesterday.

1 head of cauliflower cut into florets
1 quart of vegetable stock
1 cup of carrot juice
4-5 ribs of celery chopped
1/2 cup of chopped onion
1 cup of chopped carrots
1 cup of raw cashews
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp crushed pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)

Cover the cashews in water and soak overnight.
Saute the vegetables in a stock pot for 5 minutes. Pour the the stock and carrot juice into the pot and bring to a boil.  Add the thyme and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes.
While the soup mixture is simmering drain the water from the cashews and rinse them a few times.  Put them into a blender and enough water to cover by about an inch.  Blend well.  It will take about 2-3 minutes in a normal house blender.  This should yield about 2 cups of cream. Add the cream to the soup pot and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.
Pull out a few cups of the mixture and blend with an immersion blender and return to the pot.  Do this another time to add some "heft" to the soup.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Swimming Like a Rock

Okay, so I previously posted that I have Sprint Triathlon planned for July 2013.  I've taken my swim lessons and am now working on building lung capacity and improving my swim mechanics following 40+ years of simply treading water and calling it swimming.  Anyway.

So I found a sprint tri training plan that I like and intend to use.  It's a 12-week program that is pretty intense.  The prerequisites are: Swim 50 yards freestyle without stopping (check), run 1/2 mile (check), and bike 20 minutes without stopping (check).  I thought I was golden but not so much.

First week, first swim training day is a 2 x 50 (warmup), 4 x 25 x 4 drills, followed by drills that total 1,050 yards.  So we're talking 1,550 yards on day 1?  How did we get from 50 yards to 1,550?  Is it a typo?

Temple of the Holy One

Living a life that honors God is not always easy.  We're informed by scripture that our bodies are a temple and I am assuming we need to treat them as we would a temple of worship.  Torching or trashing a temple is obvious when it happens but not so much when our bodies are the temple.

According to an excerpt from the book Forks Over Knives, I damage the endothelial walls each time I eat meat and dairy.  Without going into all nitty-gritty details (this is supposed to be an average joe blog) let's assume it's true.  However, the damage is not noticed the first time I gorge myself at White Castle, In-and-Out, or 5 Guys. It's accumulative and often goes unnoticed until it's too late.  For many people death is the first sign of heart issues.  I want to stop that or at least minimize it.

There are many authors, bloggers, and others that are superior to me and I know that.  However, not everyone is being reached.  Every day dozens of people die unncessarily, every day billions of dollars are spent surgeries and medicine that are also unnecessary, every day some snake oil salesmen is selling a panacea to our health problems and yet we're fatter and sicker than ever. 

It. Must. Stop.

Forks Over Knives and Thrive

I'm a sucker for plant-based cook books and information.  Since I'm not a "true" vegan and am not a Seventh Day Adventist I have not moral or religous grounds on which to stand to eat in clean manner.  What helps me, though, is reading good books on plant-based eating and new cookbooks to help expand my thinking when it comes to food.

I recently picked up Thrive (the cook book) and Forks Over Knives.  Both are okay and I will definitely spend some additional time with the recipes.  Like using a veggie peeler to make zucchini ribbons in place of pasta --- brilliant. Having additional salad dressing recipes are helpful too.  Not trying to sound too prideful but I believe the things that I cook are better than much of what is out there and simpler.  Some things are just too complicated and the ingredients are too obscure.  If I can't buy it from Meijer I really don't want it.

I want people to live long, healthy lives.  I want heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and ED to be a thing of the past.  Most people are rushed, time is compressed and they don't want to spend an hour discussing odd-ball foods with a snooty person at a health food store.  We simply want to toss some stuff in our car and get out with as little damage as possible to our wallets.  It can be done. I want to help. I guess I could be the Blue Collar Vegan.  Or I could make it sound better by calling it bourgeois...Anyway. 

Look for some tips, tricks, and help when it comes to reversing the curse and living life to its full.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Leg #1: The Swim

I decided to pursue the sprint tri a few months back.  I knew when the decision was made it would be an extreme challenge for me.  I ran a 5k with my son (he runs x-country) and finished at around 27:30 (if memory serves).  Not too impressive by any stretch but running is not one of my favorite things to do.  I'm of the opinion running is useful only when one is being chased by someone! Running is not my favorite thing but unfortunately, even at 27:30, is probably my strongest of the three legs.  UGH!!

The first leg is the swim.  I spent 5 years in the US Navy and was required to be able to "tread water" but not really swim.  Seriously, if your boat gets blown to smithereens are you going to judge your mates technique in the crawl or breast stroke? I think not. So I can tread water, doggy paddle, and do a pseudo-hybrid free style.  Knowing that my swimming needed improvement I enrolled in a beginner swim class at the local Y.

Over the past 6 weeks I worked on breathing technique, freestyle, back stroke, and breast stroke.  Yea, I didn't really get the hang of the breast stroke.  I learned proper head placement and breathing techniques for freestyle but just need to practice, practice, practice.  I can do a few laps without getting too winded but much of it is getting totally comfortable in the water - which will only come by practice, practice, practice.

I'm not really good enough to feel comfortable swimming during the scheduled "lap time" but go during the open swim time.  I am building up my base so when the 12-16 week training regimen begins I can get into the lap rotation - hopefully.

I believe I am starting with sufficient time to prepare for the race.  If any of you have completed tri's before or are tri experts any tips and tricks are invited!

I still need to get a bike, though.  UGH!

Triple Threat Bucket List

I'm getting to that age (knocking on 45) when the "bucket list" becomes a reality.  I do my best to eat right and exercise although it is increasingly difficult the older I get.  So, in an effort to kill two birds with one stone (sorry animal lovers!) I tie goal and bucket lists things to my long-term health.  In 2013 I am going to complete (without dying) a sprint triathlon.

A sprint tri, at least in my situation is a 500 meter swim, 13 mile bike ride, and a 5k run.  The race is scheduled for July 20, 2013 and is relatively close to where I live.  Another reason I chose this race besides close proximity is that a wet suit is not required.  Water temperature in this small lake is 84 ish.  I really didn't want to buy a wet suit for one race.  What if I don't like it? Yes, I can be cheap.

From what I understand a 12-16 week training period is necessary to prepare oneself for a race such as this.  I have every intention of eating a plant based diet even through the rigors of the training and race.  Most information available is not plant-based/vegan friendly but I will prevail! I need to find a reputable training program and get myself ready to take it on!

I'm going to chronicle my journey on this site partly to help other bucket listers and help keep myself accountable.  Consider yourself my accountability partner!

Thank you, thank you very much.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Reverse the Curse

Why do weeds grow in my yard without effort but growing verdant grass is nearly impossible but possible with diligence and care? The same reason living healthy is difficult.  When we age we have a tendency to put on extra weight (read fat), our bodies stiffen (in all the wrong places, thank you very much!), pooping becomes things of legend, and doctor visits are more often than that dreaded one time each year. What can be done?

The more I read and study the more I realize proper diet and exercise is vital to a long and healthy life.  Understanding it is one thing but actually living it on a day-to-day basis is not always easy.  Just because it is not easy doesn't mean it's impossible, though. I am experiencing a certain ebb and flow of healthy living versus not so healthy living.  I'm human.  Weeds grow easy but grass takes focus, effort, and care. 

It's important to know that we are in a constant struggle to live healthy.  Don't misunderstand me.  I am not talking about having an unhealthy but popular body from a skinny model or any other extreme.  When I refer to "healthy" I mean blood panels that are better than what is recommended by the American Heart Association or other government subsidized entity, our sugar levels and blood pressure are in the right zone.

It's helpful to set ourselves up for success by putting a premium on exercise of any type.  Our houses need to be stocked with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and other options that promote healthy living.  Chips, chocolate, and other food that is nutritionally bankrupt are easy to get, store, and eat so keeping them away is helpful.  Remember in The Karate Kid II: "Best block, no be there."

Everyday is a new day.  Every day we need to resist obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other man-made diseases.  We can do it.  I can do it.  You can do it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Serious as a Heart Attack

My dad wasn't around much when I was younger so I don't have many pithy sayings or maxims that he endowed upon me.  However, he did have one phrase that stuck" "I drink lite beer and smoke lite cigarettes so hopefully one day I'll only have a light heart attack."  Stupid!
I've never accused him of being the sharpest knife in the drawer but what a moronic world view.  Unfortunately, there are many people that live by that mantra with other things as well.  People have bought the idea that one can eat whatever we want and not eventually pay the piper.  Each day about 1,634 people die from heart disease. I'm sorry, but I don't want to be another statistic. 
I've witnessed family members die due to heart disease or complications following heart attacks. I've been with family that went under the blade to have stents inserted and watched fear grip them as they weren't certain they would wake up from the operation.  Maybe, I am simply a sissy and prefer to avoid needles, scalpels, and chest crackers.
I now do my best to eat a plant based diet.  I've shunned meat, cheese, eggs, and processed foods (to the best of my ability).  My cholesterol numbers improved dramatically and I have every intention of keeping the total number below 125 for the rest of my life.  Still working on getting my HDL up but that will happen and it's all going to happen without sacrificing my liver on the alter of big Pharma.
Heart disease is serious.  The industry is big business and it is virtually avoidable by diet and exercise.  Why do people prefer to take meds and have surgery rather than eating greens and beans? I'm not sure either. I am going to do my part by posting reguarly on this site with the desire to help people reverse the family curse of heart disease.
God bless!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Selling Snake Oil

I am a huge fan of P90X and Insanity.  The workouts are legit, intense, and can be completed several times.  However, Beachbody is proving they have devolved into a stereotypical, multi-level marketing purveyor of snake oil with its latest product - Ultimate Reset.

Our bodies are designed to organically and naturally detoxify - that's why we have certain organs.  I've seen where Beachbody coaches have begun to pimp this new plan as well.  "I've lost 17 pounds and have never felt better."  Isn't that really an indictment against the other snake oil product, Shakeology?  If a Beachbody coach is holding fast to P90X or Insanity and eating correctly wouldn't they be in shape and not need to lose 17 pounds? Why push an unnecessary product?

I've totally lost any and all respect for Beachbody and Product Partners, LLC.  Their goal is to make money at the expense of a gullible and ignorant populace that truly desires to live a healthy life.  People have bought into to the lie that supplements are the answer when they are most definitely not.  The entire staff of Beachbody from Carl Daikeler down to the newest MLM coach should be ashamed.

People, the answer is simple.  Eliminate processed foods from your diet.  Eat as many vegetables (fresh, frozen, organic and non-organic) as you want.  Eat a variety of fresh or frozen fruit.  Stop shying away from beans, nuts and seeds - eat them, baby!

Exercise is vital.  Start moving on a daily basis.  Yes, I love P90X and Insanity.  Since I am so PISSED at the underhanded way Beachbody is attempting to separate you from your money I no longer recommend purchasing P90X or Insanity from Beachbody.  Find a used copy on eBay.  Or begin to walk, jog, or run.  Do push ups, pull ups and dips.  Do playground exercies such as jumping jacks and skipping rope.  Anything is better than nothing! There are plenty of free workouts on You Tube.

Time to kick unscrupulous companies like Beachbody to curb.  They are not as concerned about ending the trend of obesity as they are lining the wallets of the owners of the company.  Nothing wrong with making a profit but when a company begins to sell lies then the line is crossed.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Weight Loss Challenge

Final weigh-in was Friday and winners were announced today and I came in first place.  The contest was based on a percentage of weight loss rather than total number of pounds.  I dropped 13.4 pounds which was close to 9% of body weight.  Not too bad.  I had set a goal to lose 15 pounds but fell short and it was totally my doing.  I cut corners and cheated myself so I have no one to blame but myself. 

I have every intention of losing additional weight but know it is going to be tough. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Two Weeks to Go!

After being up a few weeks I finally began to see a drop in my weight.  Don’t get me wrong, I realize that losing weight is not the “alpha and omega” to a healthy life.  However, I know my body.  I know a significant amount of body fat still remains and could be lost.  Until I know that my body has reached its correct amount I will not stop attempting to lose weight.  Yes, my strength is increasing so I am adding some muscle mass. 
Too often, that is an excuse for not losing weight.  Few of us are built like NFL running backs or NBA point guards.  These people are rare and have a unique genetic set.  Most of us could afford to lose more weight but in a healthy manner.  According to several doctors the ideal weight for a “normal” man is 100 pounds up to 5 feet tall and additional 5 pounds for each inch in height.  I am a fun-sized man at 5’7” so according to those standards I should be around 135 pounds.  I am currently at 151 pounds.  Can I lose an additional 16 pounds?  It would be difficult but I believe “all things are possible” when we believe.
It’s nice to be down again.  We have two more weigh-ins scheduled (final one is 4/13).  I need to lose and additional 2.4 pounds over the next two weeks to meet my goal of 15 pounds.  I believe it is possible.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Un-Luck of the Irish

I fell victim to St. Patrick’s Day and it is not until tomorrow.  UGH!  Weigh in today was the worst since beginning my weight loss challenge.  I wouldn’t say the train has totally derailed but there definitely needs to be some course corrections for the final month. 
Food day at work and I prepared Irish Soda bread and Perfect Pint Cupcakes (neither are plant strong) but I really didn’t intend to eat any of them.  I did, however, partake in a couple of bottles of Guiness and Harp.  Guiness was required for the cupcakes and Harp was on sale! 
Ironically, I also ate one or two, too many “Healthy” fiber bars this week.  I’ve been doing quite well not eating food from a box.  Here is the ironic part: I won two boxes of Fiber One bars for a contest in our weight loss challenge and instead of tossing them in the trash I ate them.  Well not all of them but too many of them.  The just have been dumped into the trash.  I promise not to go George Costanza and pick them out and eat them.  Scouts’ honor.
My workouts have been good.  I did Insanity all week and pull ups on Monday and Wednesday and probably will again tonight.  No problems with the exercise it’s the diet – always.
I must discipline myself to drop these last 10 pounds! No more eating between meals, no more snacks at the end of the night, and no more adult exlixir.  I need to know that I can do this and it can be done.  It’s not easy – if it were obesity wouldn’t be an epidemic.  I want to help others and can’t until I have helped myself.
Game On!  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Big Rocks and Little Rocks

Dr. Stephen Covey revolutionized the time management concept with his ground breaking study and subsequent book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  In the audio version of the book he provides an example of doing the most important things in ones life first.  The example is a person placing rocks in a large container.  The person fills the container with large rocks first until it is filled to the top.  He then asks if more rocks can be into the container.  Most reply in the negative.  He then pours smaller rocks, pebbles, and finally sand into the container.  The moral wasn’t that we can always find more time but if we do the big things first the “little” things have a tendency to fit as well.  The same idea applies to eating healthy.
The typical diet contains large amounts of meat (saturated fat) and potatoes cooked in a way that renders them unhealthy (fries, baked with sour cream and butter, mashed with butter, etc.).  Most people do not eat raw fruits and vegetables and it is a contributor to the epidemic of obesity, adult onset diabetes, and heart disease. 
Imagine you want to eat steak and baked potato for special meal.  You get the customary salad that is iceberg, a few shreds of carrot and maybe a tomato wedge.  To that, you add shredded cheese and about 150-300 calories of salad dressing.  Out comes the steak and I don’t know of any restaurant that sells a 3 ounce steak – a petite is typically 6 ounces.  On the side is a large baked potato that requires 2 tablespoons of butter and an equal amount of sour cream.  What if we used our big rock/little rock paradigm?
First course get an expansive salad.  About 2 cups of romaine, a cup of shredded red cabbage, shredded carrots, chopped bell pepper, broccoli florets, and tomato slices.  Slice a slit in a baked potato and insert a bay leaf inside and wrap it in tin-foil and bake it until it is tender.  Eat the entire potato (the skin!) and flavor it with a few drops of Braggs Liquid aminos or some salsa.  Now the steak becomes a side dish not the main dish.  As Dr. Joel Furhman states emphatically, “The salad is the main dish”. 
I don’t advocate eating meat because it really has no nutritional value.  The problem is not simply eating meat is bad, it is that people aren’t eating sufficient fresh vegetables.  It’s an opportunity cost thing. 
Now for dessert: Fresh fruit!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Why is the Bar So Low?

Happy Friday! 
The weight is still coming off a little bit at a time.  I was down almost 2 ½ pounds this week – praise God.  Still hanging tight with the Eat to Live concept and it is working well for me.   As for exercise, I am continuing with Insanity on Tuesday, Thursday, and most Saturdays.  I do strength training on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and yoga on Sunday.  Actually I modify P90X to fit into 45 minutes.
My initial goal was to lose “the final 15” during this fit challenge but I think there will be more to lose than that.  There are 5 more weeks remaining in the challenge and I’ve been averaging about 1 ¾ pounds per week (which includes 2 weeks when I was up ½ pound+).  If I continue on my current pace I will have lost 21 pounds in 12 weeks.  I can tell a difference in my body but I also know there is more to lose.  When we’ve reached our ideal weight our bodies will inform us by not losing any additional weight. I still have love handles (that aren't so lovely) and a bit of a belly.
I think we have lowered the bar so much when it comes to health overweight is now considered normal.  When people begin to travel from obese to overweight to fit people think they are too skinny.  Excess belly weight is dangerous as it results in excess fat in the liver. Excess fat in the liver leads to many, many adverse health functions.  So it is essential to lose that extra insulation around our midsection.  I’ve found a plant based diet to be the best way to do that.
I am getting a lot of requests for plant strong recipes.  My wife has encourged me to put some together and make a book so I am working on that.  I want to get to about 100 recipes – wish me luck or pray for me (which ever is your forte).  I will begin posting some on a regular basis as soon as I get the minute details down pat.  Unfortunately I often cook by the seat of my pants and that must change. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Instant Health Improvement!

I’m a sucker for anything lists.  Give me a list of books I should read, movies I should view, or places I should go and I’ll read it.  In honor of that idea I am going to make a few lists starting today.
Top 10 things you should start doing today to improve your health and well being:
1.       Start moving.  Exercising sounds so difficult!  Truth is just moving will help.  It’s estimated by Nielsen (the TV tracking company) that the average American watched 34 hours and 39 minutes of TV per week – almost 5 hours per day.  We have time to move, don’t we?  
2.       Make the appointment.  If you haven’t seen your doctor or dentist for awhile take some time to make the appointment.  An ounce of prevention…
3.       Get the proper amount of rest.  Our bodies need ample time to repair from the stress and strain of our hectic lives and that happens primarily while we’re sleeping.  If you’re only getting 5-6 hours of sleep try to bump it up to 6 or 7.  For a full grown adult 8 hours is sufficient.  Must beyond that and we begin to encounter the law of declining marginal utility. 
4.       Dental Hygiene.  I don’t know one person that likes the formation of pus pockets in their mouth.  That is often a side effect to not flossing reguarly.  There also is a correlation between poor oral hygiene and heart issues.  Plus, a pearly white is awesome!
5.       Forgive.  I realize that this is an intangible but it is important.  When a grudge is held the only person adversely affected is the person holding it.  Ulcers, shingles, bitterness and other maladies are the fruit of unforgiveness.  Life is too short. 
6.       Drink some water.  Our bodies crave H2O so give into that urge.  Drink a glass when you awake and another prior to bed.  If you’re able to pull it off drink water during your meals instead of other liquids. 
7.       Go Green!  Are you aware that leafy greens are some of the most nutrient dense foods anywhere?  Find a way to get spinach, kale, romaine, turnip greens, mustard greens and others introduced into your diet.  
8.       Get Fruity, baby! I could eat fruit all of the time.  It’s naturally sweet and bursting with natural goodness.  Loaded with vitamin C, fiber, and many other phytochemicals it is the perfect addition to a meal.
9.       Shake & Smooth.  Smoothies are an easy way to move the needle in a healthy manner.  I start with a base of non-dairy milk, add some fruit, kale (trust me!) and some ground flaxseed.  BAM!
10.   Tell people you love them.  Anger and resentment has the tendency to corrode us from the inside.  It’s hard to remain angry when you are expressing love.  This is something I had to really work at because I am not a touchy feely kind of person.  I’ve begun expressing my love for people more and more and it actually feels good!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Can You Pinch an Inch?

For some reason I had a memory of the old Special K commerical that had an actor ask, “Can you pinch an inch?”  Yes, I am that old. Absolute confession: Yes, I can still pinch an inch on my belly and my not-so-lovely “love handles.”  Anyway, why did I have that vivid memory?
It is estimated that over 67% of Americans and overweight and many are obese.  I am skeptical that Special K is the answer but I suppose it is preferrable to Pop-Tarts, Paczki’s, and anything fried.  Could Kellogg’s get away with asking that brutal question, from a marketing perspective?  I doubt it. 
Mr. Kellogg, the founder of that great Michigan institution, was a healthy eater and understood the importance of a hearty breakfast.  We’ve often been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and it probably is. However, it still should be healthy. 
One of my favorite breakfast meals is fruit cereal.  I chop a banana, an apple, and strawberries, add some blueberries, and walnuts and top it with non-daily milk.  It’s packed full of nutrients, fiber, vitamins, and other healthy goodness! 
My other “go to” breakfast is oatmeal.  “Yuck,” you say.  Not so fast sparky!  Cook a serving according to package instructions but don’t get it too thick.  Add 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed, a chopped banana, a handful of blueberries, and some walnuts.  I also like to throw in some chopped apples.  If you do you might want to cook them in the oatmal because they often cool the meal down too much.  This meal is especially good if you want to lower your cholesterol!
Both are staples in my fight against heart disease.  I’ve lowered my cholesterol (without the aid of medicine or supplements) by half (total) and lowered LDL by 62%!  I’ve also dropped 10+ pounds in the past 5 weeks.  I am working to get to the point where I can honestly declare, “No, I can’t pinch an inch.”
Healthy eating works!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Final 15: Week #5

After a frustrating week of weight gain I was able to successfully lose another 2.2 pounds this week.  The strange thing is that I didn’t really feel as though I had improved over the prior week.  I guess it goes to show that feelings are fickle.  Total weight loss so far since my original weigh in on 1/20 is 10.6 pounds.  Not bad, if I do say so myself.
I have continued the P90X/Insanity combo.  I am complete the P90X lifting DVD’s on M/W/F.  I am doing Insanity cardio interval on T/TH/S.  My Sunday is dedicated to yoga.  During the evenings I walk or do a walk/run interval thing on the treadmill.  I am convinced that eating correctly is the key and that a I can’t out train a poor diet.
I was talking with a relative that has adult onset diabetes, high blood pressure, and had heart surgery about 2 years ago.  She is interested in “trying” some of my healthier recipes.  I spent a few hours on Monday (it was holiday for me!) and came up with a few for her to give a shot. 
I am convinced that anyone can eat healthy.  It takes some effort but anything worth doing takes effort.  The big thing is having a legitimate why.  Ask yourself why do you want to make a change?  The internal why must be bigger than external obstacles and circumstances.  As for the relative, high blood pressure and diabetes are both killers.  I don’t know of anyone that WANTS to die of self-inflicted diseases.  Why do you want to change?  I want to live and enjoy kids, grand kids, great-grand kids, etc.
What about you?  Do you have a why that is bigger than a greasy double cheeseburger?  I hope so.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Myth Busting 101

Many people are looking for a magic bullet to cure their ills.  If only a pill could be invented without side affects!  Billions of dollars are spent annually for the panacea that doesn't exist.  Supplement companies easily prey on the ignorant in the same way "snake oil" salesmen did in wild, wild west.  Now the names are exciting and the packages are slicker.

Only a minority of people require diet supplementation.  Yes, strict vegetarians need B12 supplements but not much else.  A multi-vitamin can correct any holes in a vegetarian diet.  Supplement companies are unnecessary and if people would ask a few questions the lie would be exposed and the victim would save some jack $$$.

One myth I've heard from a popular "shake" company is that supplementation is needed because of soil depletion.  That simply is not true.  The soil in the United States still produces healthy fruits and vegetables.  The real problem is people are eating the wrong foods! A $3.99 daily shake is not the healthiest meal of the day - a large salad with romaine, red cabbage, spinach, carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, radishes, and sunflower seeds is!

There is no easy way out of obesity and there are no shortcuts to a healthy life.  Eating a diet of fresh fruit and vegetables is the best way to improve your health and to drop unwanted pounds.  You can't shake your way out of it!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Yikes! Ugh! Fudge!

Stupid Valentine’s Day!  That’s my story and I am sticking to it.  Weighed in today and it was not good – up one whole pound! Yikes.  I have solid proof that one can’t out train a bad diet. 
Mistake #1: Wabasi Almonds.  I bought a large bag of wabasi flavored almonds.  Not a good idea for me.  I can eat those things by the handful and I did.  The bag is almost empty – thank God – and I won’t get another one.  One of the concepts behind Eat to Live is to not snack between meals. 
Mistake #2:  Valentine’s Day Candy.  My wife is a 2nd grade teacher and she brought home treats after the holiday.  I didn’t have to eat the, obviously, but I did eat enough to throw things off kilter. 
Mistake #3: Argentinian Wine.  I’ve been pretty good about monitoring and limiting my wine consumption but I don’t think I did that well this past week.
Mistake #4: Snacking.  Although my snacks were relatively healthy (forget #2 above) I still ate when I really wasn’t hungry. 
Not all was bad.  I exercised each day in the AM and PM.  It was a pseudo “recovery week” according to P90X and Insanity.  So I did the core synergistics DVD on M/W/F and the core cardio on T/TH.  Not as intense as some of the others but I followed the plan.  I also interjected some running into my nightly treadmill walk. 
Bad week but I am simply going to reverse the trend and rein in the discipline.  As of today I am still down +8 pounds.  It’s better than I’ve done in the past but I should be at +10.  I have some ground to make up.  Time to get busy!

Friday, February 10, 2012

One Bite At a Time

I am astonished at how many people fail prior to ever attempting something.  Failure has been etched in their mind and success is no longer an option.  I’ve been sharing my cholesterol numbers with anyone that will listen.  Of course, many people I share these numbers with experience high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure.  “I could never do what you do,” they lament. 
I could never eat only plants.  I would never give up my Big Mac, Whopper, Double-Double, or whatever other fast food temptress that means more to them than a strong ticker.  By default they are saying:
·         Heart surgery can’t be that bad, right?
·         I want to die young – the golden years are overrated
·         If I don’t die young I want my last 5 years to be filled with hospital and myriad doctor visits
·         I really want to put my kids through the ringer.  I want them to stop their lives every 6 months and visit me in the CCU and think I am dying
·         I want to be known as the widow maker.
·         I don’t care if I can purchase a life insurance policy
·         I really don’t want to enjoy my grandkids
·         I enjoy testing my sugar every day – it’s freakin’ awesome
·         Meeting my annual deductible with prescription drugs is much better than taking a vacation with my family
·         One can never have too many spare tires or chins
There are dozens or even hundreds more of these types of remarks that could be made (please feel free to add them).  I simply get frustrated when someone tells me they CAN’T do something.  They are living in the land of Myopia.  When the taste of an Olive Burger supercedes the desire to play catch with a future grandkid we have a prioritization issue.
Our nation is in a health care crisis that is mostly preventable.  Heart disease is the #1 killer and it is preventable.  Obesity is the catalyst for many other ailments and it too is preventable.  Join me in my quest to put a dent in it one bite at a time.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Who Wants a Sick Ticker?

January 2011 I went for normal blood work consisting of total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, Triglycerides, and glucose.  To make a long story short only glucose and triglycerides were anywhere close to the acceptable range. The rest were alarmingly high or in the case of HDL way too low.  I was concerned and for good reason.

My family is from the south.  My maternal grandmother was born in Mississippi, my maternal grandfather Missouri.  My paternal grandmother born and raise in Virginia and my paternal grandfather Tennessee.  In my family everything was fried and covered in gravy and the sodium content was sky high. 

Little surprise that many members of my family began to gain excessive weight as manual, field work was exchanged for tractors and manufacturing jobs.  Eating habits are difficult to change.  Portion sizes were large for reason as physical exertion required sufficient fuel to get the job done.  Our jobs changed but our eating habits didn't evolve.

Heart issues and type 2 diabetes began to hit close to home.  So I made some subtle changes.  Subtle wasn't sufficient and moderation, at least in my life, was useless.   After getting my lab results in January 2011 I decided to give a plant based diet a shot.  I ordered The Engine 2 Diet, The China Study, and You Can Reverse Heart Disease and read them quickly.  I began implementing what I learned and adapting my food consumption accordingly.  After 60 days my total cholesterol dropped 59 points.  My LDL and HDL were still not where I wanted them so I decided to continue.

About six weeks ago I bought Eat to Live.  It was a bit different than the previous three and inspired me to dig deeper in my quest for excellent nutritional health.  I had my first physical since my prior lab test and my cholesterol numbers are mindblowing! Total = 133, LDL 78, Triglycerides 63, Glucose 93, and HDL 42. 

My prior doctor never even suggested a plant based diet.  Cardioligist, ditto.  I'm sure there are some out there that are hardcore in the diet area but not enough.  If you are struggling with these issues I highly recommend the books previously mentioned.  It might seem strange at first.  I decided having stents inserted or my heart cracked open or dying of a heart attack is strange.  Eating plants - not so much.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Life Sans Caffeine

Addictions are terrible in any form and yet we all have them in some way.  About three weeks ago I decided to take on my addiction to coffee (caffeine).  I wasn't the casual coffee drinker.  I would typically drink 10-12 cups per day -- all day.  I would start in the morning and would drink coffee all day up until bed time.

Of course as a youngster I didn't like the taste of coffee - it is an acquired taste, no?  While deployed to the Arabian Gulf on a US warship I began drinking it to faciliate many late, late nights on watch in the combat information center.  After the deployment was complete, I was hooked.  I never added sugar or creamer of any type -- simply black.

So I began my detox.  I didn't enlist any type of accountability partner because I honestly thought I would fail again.  I've tried many times and always failed.  Day one was pretty good - of course I was going on the excitement and momentum of making the decision to stop.  Day two: BRUTAL.  Headaches.  Crankiness.  Day three: same thing all over again.  The headaches continued through the fifth day.  Then nothing. 

Since I've stopped drinking coffee (I had stopped drinking tea the year prior) I sleep better and I think my disposition has improved.  Maybe it's coincidental but I actually seem to be nicer to people.  Also, the color of my teeth are improving!

I've replaced the hot drink with caffeine free herbal teas which hit the spot and do not require any sweetener. If you are thinking of quitting - give it a shot!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Final Fifteen 2.0

Another successful week in my efforts to drop the final 15 or 20 pounds.  I eradicated an additional 2.7 pounds  over the week. I think I have lost over 6 pounds total over the two weeks and I am eating better than ever.

Eating clean, exercising, no caffeine, and only a few sips of wine.  I've found the Eat to Live concept the easiest to follow.  Eating hasn't been strained at all.  Matter-of-fact we had falafels, ratatouille, and Moroccan tagine last week.  My family has been marvelous about trying new and exciting foods.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Shakeology: The Good, Bad, Ugly

Shakeology is no different than any other processed food that gives people false hope.  Most of these products are touted as a panacea but actually are over-priced alternatives to whole food.

The Good

Shakeology is delectable.  The chocolate with peanut butter, strawberries, and milk (soy for me) tastes wonderful.  The Greenberry is versatile usually doesn't require juice (if you're cutting calories).

The Bad

It's expensive.  About $129 per month which for many people is quite pricey.  Could you use an extra $1,500 annually?  It has whey in it so those that are vegan or lactose intolerant will have difficulty.  The testimonials offered are circumstantial at best.  Often people are working another program, such as P90X, and are adjusting their diets.  In those instances it's difficult to give the credit for health gains to Shakeology. The name Greenberry is bad.  Couldn't they come up with a better name than that?

The Ugly

A company that is attempting to "end obesity" shouldn't be pimping supplements.  They should be advocating for fresh whole foods! At best their idea is disingenuous. It's a constant stream of cash that most obese people do not need.

But it does taste really good!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Insanity: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

If you really want to sweat, if you really want to push your body then Insanity is the workout for you! 


Of all of the prior Beachbody products I have purchased the packaging for Insanity is in a league of its own.  It comes in a binder similar to a book and the DVD's are pressed in like pages.  Very nice. 

If you buy the kit from a BB coach you get the "Fast & Furious" DVD as a bonus and it's awesome.  In less than 25 minutes you have warmed up, stretched, and pushed yourself to the max.  Great for days when you're in a hurry. 

All of the routines are challenging.  It's nice seeing "professionals" falling over, gasping, and holding their sides during the exercises too.  Of course, I prefer some more than others but in my opinion Insanity is much better than P90X. 

There isn't one DVD that is >60 minutes. The ab video is shorter and more intense.  The stretching in Insanity is about 3-4 months longer than P90X too. 

Shaun T is the antithesis to Tony Horton.  Don't get me wrong, I love TH - he is more of an encourager.  Shaun T is more like a drill sargent.  Both are good for different things.


Not much to complain about hear so I will have to nit-pick to find anything.  In one DVD one of the "professionals" spits all over the gym.  It is absolutely disgusting.  That should have been edited and she should have been kicked out! NASTY.

Doing the "Fit Test" and then exercising is kind of silly, I think.  The recovery week is extremely boring.  Doing the same routine for 6 days is excruciating. 

Some of the exercises chosen seem kind of odd to me.  It's kind of like, "really, that's the best you could have thought of on this day?" 


Again, nothing ugly about the routines (except the spitter).  The ugly is me after doing Pure Cardio.  It is not a pretty sight but it is effective.

Definite buyer!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

P90X: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Unless you have been living under a rock and haven't watched television in the past 7 years you have undoubtedly seen a P90X infomercial.  I ordered it several years ago and have completed the program 2 or 3 times.  I've started and stopped it a few times too.  So, if you are wondering what to expect here is an honest critique.


The program is a beast.  There are really no "off days".  If you want a serious challenge this program will do it.  Yea, I know all of the Crossfitters hate P90X  - to each his own.  If you are don't feel like driving to the gym and having men or women gawk at you, don't want to contract ring worm, and don't want to wait for weights or have to wipe someone else's sweat off a bench P90X is a great option.

The pullup is one of the best exercises ---EVER.  You will have ample time to complete pullups and you will become much stronger over the 12 week program.  Pullups aren't easy but with practice and recovery you will probably double or triple your pullup results.

Yoga.  I've never had formal yoga lessons and its quite possible that the yoga in P90X is a watered down or hybrid version (I really don't know) but the introduction was great.  It definitely is a struggle (curse you twisting half moon!) but it turned out to be one of my favorite days. 


This is going to sound nit-picky but I absolutely hate the storage box.  Sometimes it is tough to slide the DVD's in and I think they will get scratched.  The container for Insanity is superior. 

The yoga video is WAY TOO LONG.  Not sure who has 90+ minutes to "waste" but it definitely could have been pared down to less than an hour.  The supplemental video sent when its ordered through a BB Coach isn't that good, either.

Tony, the host has a wacky sense of humor.  Sometimes he talks too much and tries too hard. 

All of the videos are too long.  Find a way to get them to between 45-50 minutes all of the time.  Most of the time it's the host talking and simply wasting time.  I want to get in and out not stand around listening to someone talk.


Watching me do wall squats or attempting a "Dreya Roll".

All in all.  It's a very good program - highly recommended! The price is fair and the content is good -- just too long. 

Would You Rather?

Do you like the game “Would you Rather?”  You know, the game that puts us in weird situations and we are required to choose the lesser of two evils (at least in our opinion).  For example, would you rather play and always lose or never play? There are many eventualities and the questions are only limited to our imagination.
Yesterday a friend linked an essay to me about the “prosperity gospel”.  Well, it was supposed to be an essay at least.  The premise was flawed, the author continued to restate his thesis over and over, and his research was simply circular arguments and opinon.  Similar to the very thing, the prosperity gospel, he was attempting to refute.
I am no fan of the prosperity gospel – although I believe in prosperity.  I was looking forward to the essay and hoping to learn something but I didn’t.  The writer simply took about 4-5 pages to blast some of the people that spew the prosperity message.  I am actually quite concerned if this type of writing is what is coming out of a large seminary.  Yikes! Take the kid back to English 101 for Heaven’s sake.
I would like to ask the author of the essay the following question: If you were pastoring a church, would you rather have a family earn $21 million per year and give $3 million or have a family earn $30,000 and give $5,000? 
Often church “leaders” sound like communists and government bureaucrats.  They  are convinced they have a moral right to stick their collective hands into our checkbooks and extract as much money as they want.  Furthermore, these same people don’t want people prospering but they don’t want them poor.  They want them like Goldilock’s bed --- Just right.  But they define what just right is. 
I firmly believe people are generous – they really are.  Unfortunately, churches often seem like a bad investment.  Without a price mechanism and without a profit and loss statement there is no way of keeping score to see if a church or non-profit is doing well.  So the result is often out-of-control spending and increased pressure to give.  Offerings are squandered on bigger and better buildings and increased salaries. 
I don’t believe that God “wants” every person to be a millionaire.  I believe that God has made it perfectly clear in the good book how we can prosper or how we can enter into poverty.  The choice is ours.  Yes, the love of money is a root of evil but money is neither more nor immoral.  For a minister to beat people down for prospering or desiring to increase financially is simply insane. 
It’s easy to pull a few scriptures, throw in some communism, socialism, a couple of dashes of emotion and declare it the will of God.  The author, in his very weak essay, was no different than the people he was condemning (Copeland, Hagin, etc.)  Not sure why he didn’t quote Wesley…I guess that wouldn’t have supported his thesis.
If you are prosperous, thank GOD!  If you are struggling, learn how to be abased and find out how to turn the thing around.  You won’t become a millionaire by tithing (not scriptural but different post) and won’t by sowing seed.  If one could become a millionaire by sowing seed why don’t all the ministries that want your money just do the same thing?  Why, don’t they?  Because it doesn’t work. Work works.