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!