Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Persistence Fitness Puzzle

When is the last time you achieved something worthwhile, something great, something amazing without being persistent at it?  You  need persistence to achieve your goals whether they are fitness related such as losing weight, building muscle or developing strength through resistance exercises, or a completely new direction in life.  The path to success is a journey of many steps and this quality of persistence is required not just in weight loss but in anything in life were progress is not easily attained or consistent.

Do you possess persistence, and if not, can you develop it?  Persistence is only needed when you either doubt what you are doing will bring success or are too impatient to wait for the results.  Persistence is not needed when you can see the results of your work on a regular basis, because that is usually enough of a motivation to keep going.  It is when what you are doing slows down or shows no noticeable progress that the persistence to stick with the task is required.  I'm at the stage now in my fitness progression where it's slowing down and I know that I need to persevere. 

I believe we all have the potential to persevere when the going gets tough. Dig deep within you, it's there! Armed with correct knowledge, we can be assured that the steps we are taking will result in success down the road, sooner for some and later for others.  Sometimes you must descend into the valley before you can climb the mountain.   Those who have shown by their example that results are achievable even in the face of struggle, give us reason to persevere.  Many individuals have taken steps backwards or had setbacks for one reason or another, but with persistence they never give up and keep pushing play.   Knowing beforehand that there were challenges that came up for others, should give you the strength and the mindset to not give up when it happens to you.

When you commit to something, naturally you want to see the results of the hard work you put in.  For some people the results come in the first 90 days, for some in 180 days, and for others 1 or more years.  As you persist in the actions you're taking to achieve your goals, don't become impatient if it doesn't happen right away.  Keep pushing play.  Persistence is vital to fulfill many ambitions and goals in life.  Follow what is correct then it pays off to stick with it as long as possible, even if the results are not as quick as you had hoped.

In the following video, P90X creator Tony Horton shares his insight into how to stay in the game day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. 

To get amazing results, you need to have amazing persistence and determination.  Many fail to succeed because they lacked the persistence to continue when results were not as forthcoming as their expectations.

To highlight what Tony suggested, look past the three months.  How do you do that? What are the key aspects to how that happens?
  • Simplify.  Push play and eat right.  It's not always done everyday and it can't be perfect everyday.
  • Don't be attached to results.  Stay encouraged.  In the beginning I counted calories to help me stay focused.  I no longer do and like Tony, I just eat the right portion size of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats.  Follow the 90/10 plan, eat 90% of the time healthy and leave 10% for occasions when you're not so strict on yourself.
  • Be in the moment and enjoy it.  Don't worry about the past, it's history and the future's a mystery.  The most important thing is to show up 5-6 days a week.  Figure out why you're doing this.  If I exercise today I will feel good, be healthier, be more fit and the quality of my life will improve.  

So when you start to hear those niggly little excuses wiggling their way into your mindset, stop them in their tracks before they gain a foot hold.  When you hear an excuse like "I'm too busy" have a counter offensive:

1.  This is important enough to me that I can find the time.
2.  If I’m so busy then this can fit right in.
3. I can stop being merely busy and start being truly effective with my time.

Start by giving yourself reasons to do something instead of giving up.  If you feel you have limitations, and we all do, then all the more reason to persist in spite of them!  A kite never flew high up in the sky without the limitation of wind and the kite line.  These forces of opposition in our life are what help us to reach new heights and grow. 

If you want the straight dope on fueling your body with nutritious food and what to avoid, I'm here to help and it won't cost you a penny for the free advice based on my own experience and what has worked for me.  I hope you'll follow my blog and provide me with some feedback on my posts.  I'll be catering good choices that include both dietary and lifestyle changes.  So if you could use a boost to your engine, buckle up for the ride of your life and let's get started!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Beginner, Striver or Warrior?

Fitness expert Tony Horton is the driving force behind my health success! I strongly recommend the Beachbody workout he created called P90X. Chances are you've either seen an infomercial, watched a news related health story, or seen his book. After reading my blog, you may be asking yourself if this is for you or if it'll be too overwhelming. I asked the same questions and wondered if this was just going to be another one of those fad programs we've all seen others try and fail. There are so many individuals who have shared their stories of transformation that are simply incredible!! These people are not making this stuff up and neither am I. P90X debuted in 2004 to provide a rigorous regimen for people with some experience in fitness programs. However, the training is not only geared toward those who are seasoned at exercising, but also to those who are just beginners. It really does offer workouts for all levels.  If I could do it, I know you can too!

So just what is P90X? Its a 90-day program that combines a variety of exercise techniques including strength training, cardio, yoga, plyometrics and stretching. The program consists of a nutrition guide, fitness plan, calender and series of DVD videos featuring Tony Horton as instructor assisted by several fitness models who demonstrate the different workout levels depending on whether you're a beginner, a striver or a warrior! So you can follow along with moves at a lower and or higher level of intensity depending on your level of fitness and goals. If you're unsure of your current fitness level, there's even a fitness test.

Beginner is what it says on the label. You're beginning. You want to make a change, you're probably out of shape, carrying around substantial extra weight, and need a place to start. Beginners make small dietary changes at a time, get active and modify moves to a beginner level.  A Striver is perhaps someone who has less to lose, who is doing a lot of things right but maybe has plateaued. A striver eats clean, works out regularly, and is striving for that healthy lifestyle (and is on the way).  A Warrior is top of the chain - bringing it every workout, a peak performer, in fact I'd say performance is a key component to the Warrior. Warriors don't just do the full move, they add an advanced component.   So the question is - which are you?

The P90X program cycle goes 13 weeks, training six days per week and the seventh day as a stretch/rest day. The three training blocks during the 90 days of the program can be performed one of three ways called "classic", "lean" or "doubles," that you select according to your goals. Do you want to shed pounds of fat and strengthen muscles? Go lean! Do you want to build more muscle and tone up? Go classic! If you want to maximize both, go doubles! My first round I did the "lean" version.  I'm on my second round doing the "classic" version.  Most of the workouts are less than 1 hour in duration. The Abdominal workout called AB Ripper X is 15 minutes and is done 2-3 times per week depending on the program you choose.   Here's an example of the classic program routine.

The greatest benefit from P90X is the years of consultation done by Tony Horton with fitness experts and experimenting with a wide variety of disciplines to find the most effective moves. The 12 different workouts are based on a training concept called periodization, or "muscle confusion." This method of cross-training is achieved through switching the order of exercises and incorporating new moves and varied movements. From my own experience now using the method for the past 4 and half months has prevented my body from adapting to exercises over time and resulting in continual improvement without plateaus.

It has significantly improved my physical fitness in the first 90 days and continues to do so combined with the right nutrition and dietary supplement plan.  I consider myself somewhere between a Striver and a Warrior and it get's better as each week goes by! I am looking forward to the release of P90X2 later this year!

If you want the straight dope on fueling your body with nutritious food and what to avoid, I'm here to help and it won't cost you a penny for the free advice based on my own experience and what has worked for me.  I hope you'll follow my blog and provide me with some feedback on my posts.  I'll be catering good choices that include both dietary and lifestyle changes.  So if you could use a boost to your engine, buckle up for the ride of your life and let's get started!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Get Motivated and Get Off Your Butt!

We've all felt at times like we're in a slump or in a rut, and and it seems like  there's simply no way out!  I was in that unmotivated cycle for a very long time and wanted to make a change to my health.  In this blog post I'm going to discuss some of the ways in which I found the motivation to get off my butt and change direction.  I want to be in control of my life.  So hopefully some of the advice I have to pass along will help you too as it has done for me.

This spring I planted a vegetable garden.  It began like every spring where we clear the old vegetation and till the soil to get it prepared for seeding.  The soil needs to have good moisture and be worked a little before seeding.  We went to the greenhouse retailer to purchase the seeds to plant and spent the better part of the day getting them in the ground and watering the beds.  I had the right tools and supplies needed to get the job done.  It's just a few small steps taken.  First a vision or a plan of what I wanted to grow was necessary.  I needed to complete some action steps and put in the effort to make that plan then happen.  But even gardening requires more than simply planting the seeds.  We've continued to water, weed and work the soil to ensure the success of the fruits of our labor.  With regaining health and maintaining it, you need to water, nourish and trim too!  I think it's a pretty good analogy and has many similar comparisons.  If you put in all the initial effort to build a health body and not continue to perform the same healthy actions to maintain it, just like the garden will wither up and die, so too will your body.

Some days I struggle to get motivated to weed the garden and trim things up.  I hate weeding, but I love the veggies!  It's not a whole lot different than my workouts.  I'll put in a P90X DVD and get out my yoga mat, put on my heart rate monitor, and pace....and pace....and pace the floor, struggling to push play!  It's hilarious the mental challenge exercise presents.   "I hate it, but I love it" as P90X creator Tony Horton would say.

Once you've started though, it gets better and easier, and when you're finished it feels so good to accomplish it.

So here are some of the things I've learned to help me get motivated and stay motivated.  I started out at 239.8 pounds on February 1st, 2011.  I knew I wanted to be under 200 pounds within the first 90 days, so I set a goal.  I wanted to lose 40 pounds, which meant I would need to drop 3 pounds per week for 13 weeks.  Sounds like a lot doesn't it.  I knew that if I could burn more than 10 thousand calories a week more than I eat that I could achieve it.  I wasn't going to starve myself, but I wasn't going to eat the same amount of food that I would need to maintain my weight either.  So the goal was set.

One of the things that inspired me greatly was seeing other everyday people succeed with the same plan.  Video after video on youtube and on the P90X website had stories of individuals who achieved what I wanted to achieve too.  Their success stories and reading and seeing the amazing transformations is where I found the inspiration to get motivated.

The more I watched the testimonials, the more I got excited!  Everyday I focused on my goal and got excited about working out and excited about eating healthy.  Talking to other people through facebook and support groups also helped me to get excited about my plan.  When you're excited about something, it's much easier to stay motivated and get it done.

When I first considered the possibility of making a health change in my life, I didn't just jump on the band wagon right away.  In fact, it took me a month before I actually engaged my brain and body to action.  So, I set a dateI set my goal and my start date for February 1st.  I let others know that's what I was going to do.  As embarrassing as it was, I posted my before pictures.  Doing all of this helped me to build up the anticipation of getting started.  Think of your plan like a movie trailer.  Your building up your excitement and anticipation of what is to come.  I was looking forward to it and it helped me to focus on my goal and plan.

By sharing my goals and pictures with others, I was putting my integrity on the line.  I wrote them down and tracked them.  I had access to my goals at home, at work, on the computer all the time and stayed focused on it to keep my excitement going.  By committing myself publicly, I knew I had to go the distance and not quit.  Having so many friends and family there to support me along the way has been a huge moral boost to getting motivated and staying motivated.  I held myself accountable by providing weekly updates through my facebook.  I want to thank everyone who shared their words of encouragement through those progress reports that helped me to keep up my excitement and motivation.

Everyday I thought about my goal.  The weigh scale and measuring tape helped me to stay focused.  I was zeroed in on my goal and charted it and tracked it like a blood hound and I wasn't about to lose the scent!

My wife has been such a huge support to me in this journey.  It's much easier to accomplish something with someone else than doing it alone.  I enjoy the workouts at  home, but sometimes it is challenging being alone.  So I would hookup my webcam and share my video feed with some friends online, so I felt like I wasn't alone and that they were there with me.  It's a mental game I played with myself and continue to do.  I've recorded several of my workouts and posted them to Ustream TV as way to feel that others are there with me too.  It helps me to stick with it, to stay focused, keep my excitement up and continue to be motivated.  I don't think I could have done this alone, so find someone to workout with or some means to make it work for you in your head.  Find your support either in the real world or online through social media.  It works!

Now look, I'm not perfect and there is no one who is when it comes to staying motivated all the time.  So don't beat yourself up over it when it comes and when it goes, because it's like a bit of a roller coaster ride.  There are highs and there are lows, but you will find the ride of life is a journey with many steps along the way.  So take the first step and just get started.  If you don't have perfection, that's ok.  Everyday is a new day to decide, to commit and to succeed.  Just stick with it and don't ever give up!  Even if you're not feeling motivated today, or this week, just don't give up.  The motivation will come back.  We all hit little bumps and sometimes big bumps in the road of life, just keep going and don't look back.  Stay with it and you'll realize your dreams can come true.

When I first began the P90X training, it was a killer!  I thought at times like I was going to die!!  IT'S damn hard work to be honest.  I was struggling and I was sore those first few weeks.  But gradually I began to notice small changes from the small steps I was taking to better my health.  There was no way I could possibly workout at the level of Tony Horton or his models in the 12 video exercise DVD's.  It seemed impossible for me to come even close to their level of fitness.  So I took baby steps.  I modified and started out small.  Do what you can that's just a little outside of your comfort zone and add some intensity to it.   Keep pushing yourself and don't give up!  I would focus on each set and not worry about the full 1 hour of exercise ahead.  Just get from one moment to the next.  Small steps, small actions, big results!!

I began building on my success each week.  As the workouts progressed, I began to add more intensity, more repetitions, less modifications to the moves and gradually I got stronger, more flexible, more stamina, more energy and kept on building on that success.  Sometimes I couldn't get all the way through a workout or had to take many breaks.  That's ok.  As Tony Horton would say, just "Do your best and forget the rest."  So I did.  But soon I was building on my success and adding more reps and taking fewer breaks.  You will too and your tiny small steps will start to add up to a lot of success.

There are so many helpful websites and resources available.  Books, the internet, magazines, other people who help me to get motivated and stay motivated.  Other blogs and stories that inspire me and reinvigorate me.  Reading about exercise, health and nutrition daily helped me a lot.  Reading helps to motivate and stay focused.  Get passionate about it!

When you're not feeling motivated, call on a friend.  I had online support groups, forums, websites dedicated to fitness to talk to about my problems and my successes.  Talking about it with others helps.  It's ok to ask others for advice and help.  When you're in that slump, tell someone and you'll see how it can lift you up and get motivated again.

Yes, exercise is hard work.  It can be very hard work and it does not come without difficulties.  One problem is the mental games we play with ourselves.  We can talk ourselves out of something very fast if something sounds too hard.  So stop dwelling on those thoughts.  Instead, I think about how much I'm going to benefit from it.  I love how at the end of a workout I have that glow!  I call it glow, but it's really a lot of sweat!  It's gross, but it's also great!  I focus on how good I'm going to feel when I'm done a workout.  Wow it feels so great!  It's like a drug with a healthy high!  Thinking about the benefits of health are very motivating.

So when you start to have some negative thoughts, start to make excuses why you can't or won't, then stop for a moment and observe your thoughts.  Negative self-talk is very self destructive.  It can cause you to dig yourself deeper into a slump or rut.  Be aware of your negative thoughts and squash them like a bug and replace it with a positive thought.  Sometimes I think, this is just too hard.  SQUASH!!!  Then I think I can do this and I'm going to feel and look great!  If others like myself  can do it, then damn it I can do it too!

So there you have it.  Discover within you a purpose and achieve fulfillment.  These are some of the ways in which I've learned to get motivated and stay motivated.  I hope they'll help you too to get inspired to get off your butt and move your booty!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sweat This!

At the conclusion of my Kenpo X workout Wednesday evening I was totally amazed at the level of intensity that I had achieved for the duration of 1 hour with an average heart rate of 146 beats per minute and a high of 160! I wear a heart rate monitor. Ya baby, I was in the zone! The result of that insanity was I was literally dripping from head to toe as though I had just stepped out of the shower. It felt great knowing that I was working hard to improve my cardiovascular health. The training exercises are a bullet proof way to fire up your metabolism, which is what I'd like to blog about today.

Metabolism is the rate at which your body burns up calories just to keep you alive. The body functions such as your heart rate, your lungs breathing, your blood coursing through your veins, your mind thinking and dreaming, everything your body does is burning calories all the time. The more you work your muscles, the higher the calorie burn and the resulting increase in your metabolism.

Before I began to be concerned about my health, I spent most of my time on my butt and eating a LOT of junk! To think that every moment I spend sitting down at my desk, on the couch watching TV, at the computer is time spent growing fat! Every single moment I have spent over the past 4 and half months has been on my feet helping me to get trim! If you want your bottom line to grow, literally, do nothing. Changing the way I think about my health and the foods that I eat, and changing how much I move my body everyday are two of the components that have helped me to succeed in building a body that's now a fat-burning machine.

Dieting is not about following a so-called quick fix diet and then go back to the same way of eating. You need to eat plenty of food. Starvation only works to boost fat gains and lose precious metabolic burning muscles! Eating nutrient rich foods in a balanced diet will help you to retain and build muscle while burning fat, and you'll have more energy, better health and a happier outlook on life. Just the simple act of eating smaller meals more often (5-6 times a day) helps you to burn more calories. Not only that, but the very types of food you put in your mouth will also have a direct effect. Lean proteins simply burn more calories while at the same time dulling your hunger.

Exercise and moving your body are critical to building up your metabolism and burning calories. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, find a way to be more active in your daily activities, such as walking and taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further away from the store to walk further, standing while waiting instead of sitting at the doctors/dentist office, carrying your own golf clubs instead of using a cart, bike instead of drive, have more sex, and the list goes on. The gym is not the only place to make your body move. All of the 12 exercise routines I have done with Beachbody product P90X created by Tony Horton have been at home in my living room. The resistance training using weights and my own body weight have helped to strengthen my muscles, which in turn burn more calories and raise my metabolism. The proof is in the sweat and the amazing transformation of my body!

I used to come home after work, often at night, and so hungry ready to devour a big meal just an hour or two before sleep. The key to avoiding this pitfall is to eat often during the day and fuel up on whole foods that truly beat the hunger and fatigue. There is no magic genie or miracle pill. Eating a smart, balanced diet with the right kinds of protein, carbs, fats that are rich in nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fewer bad foods like refined or artificial sugars and sweetners, trans-fats and too much salt, are your first line of defense against health problems. With proper diet you can eliminate and control such enemies as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar. You too can become a nutritional superhero and boost your metabolism all day!  I now eat like a superhero and get the best bang for my calories.  I think I'm eating more than I ever did before and rarely feel hungry.  It's not about eating less, it's about getting more out of the food you do eat and being in the best shape of your life.

If you want the straight dope on fueling your body with nutritious food and what to avoid, I'm here to help and it won't cost you a penny for the free advice based on my own experience and what has worked for me.  I hope you'll follow my blog and provide me with some feedback on my posts.  I'll be catering good choices that include both dietary and lifestyle changes.  So if you could use a boost to your engine, buckle up for the ride of your life and let's get started!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fantastic Fitness Foods

In this blog post I'm going to share with you the specifics of the different categories of foods which make up my nutrition plan. I call them my fantastic fitness foods! Each food category makes up a balanced diet that's high on nutrition. This is not a fad diet and it's not a weight-loss scheme, although one of the natural results for people who are overweight will be the loss of excess fat. This is about a long-term plan of consistent exercise and proper diet. If you will stick to it like I have, you will also experience a better quality of life. You have nothing to lose except all the fat and bad habits.  So without further ado, let's review the healthy whole foods that can fuel and heal us!

1.   Healthy Fats.  That's right, your body needs fat to be healthy.  But not all fats are of benefit.  So let's cut the mustard.  I select one daily serving (2 tablespoons) from among the following oils:

Olive Oil. extra virgin
Coconut Oil, extra virgin
Flaxseed Oil
Hemp Hearts

Limit and or avoid as much as possible butter, margarine, lard and shortening.  These fats are artery clogging!

2.  Whole Grains.  If the grain cannot be sprouted, it's not whole and should be avoided.  Whole grains are a natural source of protein as well as a source of carbohydrates, fat and fiber, and are made into many different kinds of foods.  I try to select 2 servings daily (one serving=1/2 cup) from among the following grains:

Rolled Oats
Brown Rice or Wild Rice

I avoid refined grain products such as white rice, white flour, white bread, pasta (non-whole wheat varieties).  Fueling up on whole grains has consistently been linked with a significant decrease in risk factors like cardiovascular disease.

3.  Dairy and dairy substitutes.  I believe that milk is mother nature's perfect food for a calf, until it's weaned.  Calcium?  Where do cows and other animals get calcium for their bones?  From plants!  Enough said.  There are however some healthy dairy choices and nondairy foods I'd recommend.  I use 1-2 daily servings (1 servings=8 ounces or 1 cup) of the following:

Organic low fat Greek yogurt
Goat milk or goat cheese
Almond Milk
Coconut Milk
Rice Milk
Soy Milk
Soy-based cheeses and yogurt
Kefir (fermented dairy products)

Reducing your intake of dairy will cut back on your levels of unhealthy saturated fat and lower cholesterol.

4.  Lean Proteins. This may help you to feel fuller longer than other foods. It doesn't mean sacrificing the foods you love for bland protein shakes and tofu.  There are many ways to fit lean proteins that are delicious into a nutritious diet.  The following lean protein foods are those that provide a rich source of protein, but little, if any unhealthy fat.  I eat up to two servings daily (1 serving=one palm size) of the following:

Red Snapper
Salmon, Wild
Chicken breast
Turkey breast
Organic Eggs
Organic Lean Ground Beef (eaten on very rare occasions)
Organic Top Sirloin (eaten on very rare occasions)

I believe that the best choices of animal proteins are from fish and poultry.  These are among the many lean protein foods that supply nutrients that are vital for to the health and maintenance of your body.  If you have to go with beef, make it from among the leanest cuts possible, small portions and only as an occasional part of your diet.

5.  Seeds & Nuts.  Nuts and seeds are very healthy and nutritious. In addition to being excellent sources of protein, nuts and seeds have many other benefits such as vitamin B and E, minerals, fiber, and other chemicals that may prevent cancer and heart disease. I eat 2-3 servings daily (serving-one tablespoon)  from among the following:

Chia seeds
Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin seeds

Nuts and seeds contain the good, essential fats that actually help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.  They really are natures perfect booster food packed with nutrients! 

6.  Legumes.  These are a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas and lentils  and are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available.  They also contain beneficial fats and fiber. A good source of protein, legumes can be a healthy substitute for meat.  Many supermarkets and food stores stock a wide variety of legumes, both dried and canned. Watch the food labels for high salt content on canned products.  Here are several of the more common types that I eat 4-5 times a week. (1 serving=1 cup cooked)

Adzuki beans
Anasazi beans
Black beans
Black-eyed peas
Split peas
White beans
Lima beans

These foods are loaded with protein, fiber and vitamins.  They're pretty inexpensive and easy to prepare and add to your meals as soups, salads or dips.

7.  Fruits.  Two or three daily servings of fruit (one whole fruit or 1 cup fresh berries or chopped) contains significant amounts of vitamins, minerals and the all important phytochemicals.   Fruit is best served fresh, unpeeled and washed!  If you can afford it, buy organic where possible to minimize your exposure to pesticides.  It has been widely researched that the more fruit a person consumes, they reduce their risk of developing heart disease, cancer and diabetes.  Fruit provides your body with vital nutrients that help to fight infections, while repairing cells at the same time. 

Here are just a few of the fruits I enjoy.


By eating fruit, you are increasing the chances of you leading a long and disease free life.  Most fruits are packed with fiber that will keep your digestive system running smoothly. Bodily waste will not be stuck for days as you fight the battle of constipation.  Finally, by eating fruit you will feel much better inside. Not only that but you will look better as well because your skin and hair are in better shape. So, it does not matter really what fruits you like, just eat them!

8.  Vegetables.  I buy my veggies fresh and a very few frozen.    Vegetables are perfectly matched for the nutritional needs of your body.  They're low in calories and and fat and give you a lot of energy.  They provide a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals and fiber and loaded with phytonutrients!  These include all of the unique substances that give foods their brilliant colors, their delicious flavors, and their unique aromas. They are also the nutrients most closely linked to prevention of certain diseases.    I eat 2-3 daily servings ( serving=1 cup, cooked or raw).  Here is a list from among the best vegetables I like to eat.

Green Beans
Sweet Potatoes/Yams
Squash (all varieties)
Brussels sprouts
Red, Green, Yellow, Orange Peppers

The best way to get the vital nutrients your body needs is through eating whole, fresh organic vegetables.  Personally I am consuming about 60 percent of my diet as raw, including raw organic eggs.  Remember that eating any vegetable is better than eating no vegetables at all!

9.  Leafy Greens.  Did you know that there are nearly one thousand species of  plants with edible leaves known!  Leaf vegetables are typically low in calories, low in fat, high in protein per calorie, high in dietary fiber, high in iron and calcium, and very high in phytochemicals such as Vitamin C, cartenoids, lutein, folate as well as Vitamin K.  From among the following list, I eat unlimited daily servings.  

Romaine Lettuce
Collard Greens
Beet Greens
Bok Choy
Lettuce in all its varieties

Make a salad, wrap it up, add to it a soup, stir fry it, steam it or put it in your raw green smoothie!  Healthy eating is a way of balancing the food you eat to keep your body strong, energized, and well nourished. 

As you have read in my previous blog posts, what you eat has a direct effect on how you feel and how you look.  Ditch the unhealthy processed foods and speed up your health with whole foods for better digestion, stronger muscles, more energy, clearer thinking and alertness and a positive quality of life.  The foods I eat and have written about here are not only nourishing, but are delicious.  It's simple and it's easy and you too can benefit from a new eating plan.  Like I said in the beginning, this is not a fad diet or a weight loss scheme.  It's a way of life.  But it starts with you and planning for success.  When we fuel our bodies right, our bodies will function right and give us years of satisfaction.

If you want the straight dope on fueling your body with nutritious food and what to avoid, I'm here to help and it won't cost you a penny for the free advice based on my own experience and what has worked for me.  I hope you'll follow my blog and provide me with some feedback on my posts.  I'll be catering good choices that include both dietary and lifestyle changes.  So if you could use a boost to your engine, buckle up for the ride of your life and let's get started!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Does it really matter what you eat?

After leaving a healthy alternative suggestion on a recipe I read on another blog, the author explained to me on her facebook that, "It doesn't matter what you eat, David. You're still going to die."  There are two certainties in life, death and taxes.  However, I can manage my taxes through a professional accountant and by being knowledgeable can avoid certain consequences. Likewise, I can also manage my health through nutrition and exercise by being knowledgeable too and avoid certain consequences.  It's really a simple recipe when followed.   So what of the question, does it really matter what you eat?  

"Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food" - Hippocrates 

He believed that the body had an innate capacity for self-healing.  His Hippocratic oath is still recited by doctors today.  Since his time however, our approach to wellness and treating illness has greatly changed.  Today's doctors receive little, if any, training in nutrition.  I believe the sickness industry wants to keep you sick as does the processed food industry.  Good health makes a lot of sense, but it doesn't make a lot of dollars.  Optimum nutrition is the medicine your body needs and craves.  You are what you eat and food does matter.

Why eat a healthy nutritional diet if we're just going to die?  Well for starters:
  • It lowers your risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
  • It lowers your risk for colon cancer, breast cancer, and some other cancers.
  • It helps you maintain a healthy weight.
  • It gives you more energy.
If people get cancer, why treat the patient if they're just going to die anyways?  Ever wonder what kind of a diet cancer patients are recommended to be put on?  Take a look at this information for patients.

What to Eat During Cancer Treatment

  1. Small meals with small portions.
  2. Frequent meals: five to six mini meals or snacks daily
  3. Plenty of water or other drinks: 8 ounces, six to eight times daily.
  4. More fiber: whole grains, 100% whole wheat, flaxseed, oatmeal, brown rice, multigrain pasta, fruit, vegetables, beans, and nuts.
  5. Fruits and vegetables: at least 5 servings per day. Choose bright and deep colors, leafy greens, and juices too.
  6. Eat high calorie, high protein foods: pizza, peanut butter, tuna salad, milk products, eggs, bagels, dried fruit, nuts, and granola.
  7. Try supplements: Boost Plus®, Ensure Plus®, Instant Breakfast, or make your own homemade milkshakes: add protein powder.
  8. Food safety: wash hands before eating, cook food to proper temperatures, and keep food covered, refrigerated or frozen.
  9. Eat with others: perk up a poor appetite by dining with friends. Turn on the television or radio. Open the window for fresh air.
There are many reasons to enjoy quality of life while you're living. You may already be doing smart things for your health like are recommended for cancer patients. Ask yourself the following questions:

   Do I eat at least 5 servings of high antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables a day?
   Do I choose lean cuts of protein and low-fat or non-fat dairy foods?
   Do I compare food labels for fat and salt when I shop?
   Do I eat mostly fresh whole natural foods?
   Do I eat fiber foods and drink plenty of pure water?
   Do I use nutritional supplements?
                                            Do I get some physical activity on most days?
    If you answered yes, then you're in the minority of doing what I think is something good for your body and mind.  If you answered no, I hope you'll consider some small ways that can make significant changes.  Food does matter.  You don't have to get cancer first before becoming healthy!  The question I'd like to ask is, "How much do you care about your health?"    The answer is different for each person. I believe what is important is listening to your body and not ignoring how it feels. Being happy. Being loved. Enjoying your life. Not holding on to negative emotions. Getting adequate rest. Hopefully those are common denominators we can all depend on when it comes to our health.  You won't know the difference it can make to you unless you try.   

    If you want the straight dope on fueling your body with nutritious food and what to avoid, I'm here to help and it won't cost you a penny for the free advice based on my own experience and what has worked for me.  I hope you'll follow my blog and provide me with some feedback on my posts.  I'll be catering good choices that include both dietary and lifestyle changes.  So if you could use a boost to your engine, buckle up for the ride of your life and let's get started!

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Optimal Health Through Nutrition

    Your body needs protein, energy-providing carbohydrates, healthy fats and nutrients to reach optimal health.  When we fuel up with the right combinations we can maintain a healthy body weight, support a strong immune system and protect our health for the long-term.  But how do we pack all that wellness into a few meals a day from the foods we purchase at the supermarket? 
    Unfortunately, the fresh fruits and veggies we buy have less nutritional value today due to nutrient deficient soil, not ripened on the vine, irradiated and stored for days before eaten.  Our diets may lack the essential building blocks of the foods that are vital  to good health derived from proper nutrition.  So how do I ensure that I'm getting all the nutrition needed for optimal health?  I take supplements.  Whether you're in a state of sickness or considered yourself in top health, you can benefit from nutritional supplementation.  I take them morning and night.  I feel energized when I do.

    My supplements help me to start the day out right with my breakfast and fuel my body with nutrients following my daily evening P90X workouts.  These 12 intense training workouts put my body through rigorous exercises.  The supplements help to supply my body with nutrients, minerals and oils that help me to fully recover.  I feel like my post workouts are less tiring and quicker muscle healing, less tenderness and soreness when I take supplements than when I don't.  Its not a scientific measurement.  It's my own personal experience.

    Always ask your doctor, a physician or nutritionist for advice before taking supplements.

    What supplements to use can depend on several factors such as your weight, gender, the kind of exercise you undertake, your age, etc.  So what I share is what I'm currently adding as a nutritional supplement to an already very clean diet of lean protein, fruits, veggies and healthy fats.
    1.  Multi-Vitamin/Mutli-Mineral.  I use Dr. Whitakers Forward Plus  taking one packet in the morning and a packet following my workouts.  I highly recommend it and you may benefit from it.

    2.  Ginkgo Biloba.  This herb is helpful for middle-aged to older people with increased blood flow to the brain.  Here's an overview from The University of Maryland Medical Center.

    3.  Coenzyme Q10.  CoQ10 boosts energy, enhances the immune system, and acts as an antioxidant.  This University of Maryland Medical Center overview has some good information.

    4.  Grape Seed Extract.  It's another powerful antioxidant

    5.  Wild Oil of Oregano.  This herb is known for it's healing value as an anti-inflammatory, anti-pain and anti-viral properties. 

    6.  Garlic.  It has been used as both food and medicine in many cultures for thousands of years, dating back to when the Egyptian pyramids were built. It is also rich in antioxidants

    7.  Flaxseed Meal.  This superfood is essential in providing lignans and fibre, plus the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic (ALA). 

    8. Bee Pollen granules.  This is one of the richest and purest natural foods ever discovered, and the incredible nutritional and medicinal value of bee pollen has been known for centuries.

    In his book BRING IT!, P90X creator Tony Horton has a challenge to take supplements.  His challenge is a simple test.  For 1 week, while eating healthy and exercising, do not take any supplements.  I had to do this before I could do a round of tests for my doctors medical examination.  Then answer 13 questions at the start and end of the week.  At the start of the following week, add back in your supplements to your food and workout routine.  At the end of the second week take the test again and compare and you'll see how supplements make a difference. 
    1. I experience sound, restful sleep most nights of the week
    2. I have plenty of energy throughout the day
    3. I have a healthy and normal appetite with very few cravings
    4. I am happy with my present weight
    5. I'm enthusiastic about my fitness and have plenty of energy during exercise
    6. I'm good at handling stress
    7. I'm satisfied with the state of my libido
    8. My memory, cognition and mental acuity are good
    9. I have good/full range of motion and am not experiencing joint pain
    10. My muscles are strong and lean and recover quickly after exercise
    11. My heart and lung capacity are strong during cardiovascular exercise
    12. I have normal digestion with no stomach or intestinal issues
    13. I feel that I am in good mental health, free from sadness, depression and anxiety
    Answer all the questions on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being never and 10 always.  Be honest!  How did you do?  Let me know in the comments section of the blog.

    If you want the straight dope on fueling your body with nutritious food and what to avoid, I'm here to help and it won't cost you a penny for the free advice based on my own experience and what has worked for me.  I hope you'll follow my blog and provide me with some feedback on my posts.  I'll be catering good choices that include both dietary and lifestyle changes.  So if you could use a boost to your engine, buckle up for the ride of your life and let's get started!.

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Processed Foods Propaganda

    Food advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry. It IS propaganda by food marketers who want you to spend your shrinking food budget on their highly processed foods that have been made to appeal to consumers as exciting, convenient and healthy. If you keep on drinking the kool-aid (literally and figuratively), the food marketers will continue to reap the benefits while you will continue to be plagued with poor health.

    Avoiding and eliminating processed foods is one of the first actions I took in my strategy to regain my health and fitness. By staying away from fast food restaurants and store-bought packages that have been altered from their food natural state and loaded with preservatives, you can quickly make a shift to real food. Doing so will give you the boost your body needs to repair itself and benefit you for the long term. There are some processed foods that you could consider are good and some that are clearly bad. For example, frozen veggies are convenient and are not altered to strip the nutrition. Other frozen foods like fish, frozen berries and even oatmeal are nutritious even though they are processed.

    The processed foods I avoid specifically are usually canned foods with massive amounts of salt or fat, breads and pastas made with refined flour, high-calories snack foods like chips and candies, frozen fish sticks and frozen dinners high in salt, packaged cakes and cookies, boxed meals that are high in fat and salt, processed breakfast cereals high in sugar and processed meats. Eating these bad foods may increase the risk for disease. Hot dogs, bologna, sausage, ham and other packaged meats that are high in calories, saturated fat and salt with low nutritional value are simply not in their natural state and are altered. If you cannot avoid processed foods, try to balance them out with lots of veggies, fruits and whole grains.

    Using a little common sense goes a long ways towards choosing food to improve your health. Every week before heading to the store, we make a grocery list. So for example, instead of buying canned soups, we buy the raw ingredients needed to make the soup at home. It's not as time convenient, so you just plan ahead and prepare enough for several meals and either freeze or store in the refrigerator for later use.

    So before you head to the grocery store, here are some tips that start at home!
    • Make a grocery list and stick to it
    • Eat before you go shopping so you're not hungry
    • Add lots of fresh fruits and vegetables or frozen fruits and vegetables
    • Choose lean proteins like fish, skinless chicken breasts or turkey
    • Stay away from the snack aisle
    • Read the nutrition labels and note the salt and fat content and avoid where possible
    • Choose low fat soy milk, almond milk or rice milk as a substitute for dairy
    • Replace white bread with whole wheat grain bread, read the label
    • Buy spices and herbs to flavor food instead of adding table salt for seasoning
    • Avoid frozen dinners

    If you want the straight dope on fueling your body with nutritious food and what to avoid, I'm here to help and it won't cost you a penny for the free advice based on my own experience and what has worked for me.  I hope you'll follow my blog and provide me with some feedback on my posts.  I'll be catering good choices that include both dietary and lifestyle changes.  So if you could use a boost to your engine, buckle up for the ride of your life and let's get started!

    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    Evils and Designs of Conspiring Food Manufacturers

    Everyday, grocery shoppers walk the aisles in search of their next meal. Sifting through the confusion of what to buy that's healthy can be a difficult task even for the cautious consumer. Shelves of prepackaged products greet you with their enticing labels of "fat free", "healthy choice" and "organic" hoping you won't carefully read the ingredients label. It's the classic bait and switch! Misleading labels prey on the unsuspecting and ignorant. The food manufacturers are counting on that to fool you into believing the food you're buying is safe and good for you. Think again!

    Candy.  Yup, it's labeled Fat Free, so that must mean its good for you right?  These junk foods are loaded with refined sugar and carbs with next to zero nutrition. 

    Organic.  Yup, it's labeled Organic, so that must mean its good for you right?  Organic junk food is still junk food.  Organic refined flours and processed powdered cheese are high in calories and low in nutrition.  Steer clear!

    Pure 100% Juice.  Must be good if it's pure right?  The cleverly disguised juice box and sports drinks are again loaded sugar and high calories.  My idea of 100% juice is freshly squeezed or put through a juicer machine.  No fillers, no added sugars, not processed, simply natural and whole.

    All Natural Flavors.  Oh this must be a healthy a choice! Just because a beverage switches from carbonated water to filtered water, replaces citric acid with natural citric acid and calcium disodium EDT to natural potassium citrate does not make it a healthy choice.  Watch out for the sweetener high-fructose corn syrup!

    Healthy Choice.  Thank goodness the food company has my best interests in mind!  While fat and calories are important considerations, don't ignore the fine print. Foods with such health claims often pull the bait and switch that may be low in fat, but to keep you buying it for the flavor, the sugar and salt are high.

    No fat, no cholesterol.   Well that certainly is a huge relief, better buy that product!  NOT!  Don't be taken in by these false claims and thinking you're doing your body a favor.  Substitute fillers are usually more toxic.  Flip the package and read the food label. 

    "Real" food.  Really?  It says it's real, so it must be right?  Can you say gullible?  The food company thinks you are and counts on it to boost their profits.  The truth is there may be a very small amount of "real" food in the ingredients. However, upon closer examination you'll usually see other ingredients like modified food starch, soybean oil, food coloring and a host of other fillers void of nutrition.  The fewer the ingredients, the better!

    Zero gram trans fats. No, not really.  A miniscule amount of anything that's unhealthy builds up in the body over time that can lead to poor health.  Food companies can label their products zero trans fat when there is less than .50 grams per serving.  .5 is not zero.  That is simply false and misleading.  Read the food label!

    A sprinkle of salt and a taste of butter.  Just a little is ok and won't harm me right?  Watch out as you walk down the snack aisle.  It's loaded with tempation of a little of this and a little of that.  That "taste" of butter probably isn't butter at all.  Bait and switch! 

    Whole Wheat bread.  Everyone knows that "whole" is better for you.  While the bread is labeled with "whole" and low fat, consider that the flour is stripped of the nutrients that make it healthier.  Check the food label too for the additives, chemicals, fillers, sugars and preservatives.  Better yet, make it yourself from fresh ground wheat, water and yeast!  

    Reduced fat.  That must be healthier if it has been reduced in fat.  Take something out is replaced by putting something in, like maltodextrin, a carbohydrate used as a cheap filler in many processed foods. Congratulations, you just doubled the amount of sugar!  Go for the real stuff without any oils, fillers or added sugars.

    With Sea SaltMany people believe sea salt is a healthy alternative to table salt, but this is no longer the case.  Refined sea salt is still refined, having removed the many vital minerals.

    Lightly sweetened.  Red flag alert!  Think fruit loops, frosted flakes or apple jacks cereal.  Lightly sweetened adds up to a whole lot of empty calories, sugar and no nutrition!

    Good source of vitamins and minerals.  Hey, that's great!  Nothing to worry about then.  Sure glad that company has got my back!  Even refined flour has a miniscule amount of vitamins and minerals.  But these were simply added back into the flour after it was processed and stripped of the nutrients.  

    Don't be fooled by misleading labels with products that are promoted as healthy.  These foods simply pad the profits of the manufacturer while eating them pads your waistline!  Always check the food labels and steer clear of high-fructose corn syrup!  Ban soda pop from your home and replace with water or herbal teas.  Need to quash an urge for your sweet tooth?  Grab some fruit or sweet vegetables to curb the cravings.  Stop eating dead junk, fried, fast foods and processed carbs.  They're chock full of sugar and additives. Sugar converts to fat in the body.  As much as 35 percent of sugar eaten is stored in the body as fat!  Eat live foods and you'll feel more alive.  Eat more dead food, and well, you'll feel like six feet under!   

    Eat clean and live free of addiction.  Nourish your body with whole foods. As I have done so, I have a new found vitality that brings happiness to my body and mind.  It is a gift within reach of everyone who will commit to a new lifestyle.  It can be done.  Treat your body right and it will reward you.  Don't wait, do it!

    If you want the straight dope on fueling your body with nutritious food and what to avoid, I'm here to help and it won't cost you a penny for the free advice based on my own experience and what has worked for me.  I hope you'll follow my blog and provide me with some feedback on my posts.  I'll be catering good choices that include both dietary and lifestyle changes.  So if you could use a boost to your engine, buckle up for the ride of your life and let's get started!

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    Fuel For the Race of Life

    Like a performance engine that runs on high octane fuel, we can fuel our body with supercharged foods for peak health.   As I grow older I want to ensure that my quality of life is the best it can possibly be.  That means eliminating certain foods and eating habits and replacing them with nutritious whole foods and making it a lifestyle for everyday.

    You can buy an extended warranty for a car.  But if you want to have an extended life free of malfunctions and defects, you can't buy an extended warranty for your body.  It's going to rust out if you don't care for it.  Preventative maintenance is critical to your durability, reliability and quality of life!  If you ignore this for years like I did, it's going to eventually catch up with you. 

    This doesn't have to be complicated or expensive like outfitting an engine with a supercharger.  It only requires a little self discipline to break the old habits and form new ones that are going to benefit your body.  You don't need to get all crazy on dieting.  It's simple and it's easy!  But it will challenge you in the beginning as your body experiences cravings for things like salt, sugar and fats.  Your with drawl symptoms from addiction to junk food will take a little time to break free from, but your body will respond to the nutrition you're fueling up on and the cravings will diminish.  I've noticed that if I eat something now like a bag of Cheezies, my body immediately responds negatively to the junk!  My body now finds those unhealthy choices to be toxic and wants to rid itself of it. 

    In the first few months I began my health journey, I researched and closely monitored my diet.  When I use the term "diet" I don't mean a diet that is restrictive by starving yourself to lose weight.  DIET is what you eat.  DIET is nutrition and the sum of food you consume.  DIET is the deliberate selection of food to control, not only your body weight, but your health based on the nutrients you take in.  There are many foods that aid our diet and many that are a hindrance.

    First the foods I have forsaken and avoid. Here are my dirty dozen.
    1. Pop, soda, diet and regular
    2. Sweeteners, artificial and refined sugar
    3. White flour and other processed grains
    4. White potatoes and white rice
    5. Caffeine, especially energy drinks and coffee
    6. Fried foods, especially restaurant fast foods
    7. Dairy, especially cows milk, ice cream and most cheese
    8. Butter, margarine
    9. Sports drinks
    10. Pre-packaged meals
    11. Animal products, namely beef.
    12. Alcohol, particularly hard liquor and spirits.
    Eating healthier is not as hard as it seems.  Focusing on some simple foods that are packed with nutrition is a common sense prescription for health and wellness.  Your heart and your body will thank you for it!  Here are the top ten nourishing whole foods I feed my body for nutrients that satisfy and are delicious! 
    1. Fruits (2-3 daily servings)
    2. Vegetables, fresh and organic where possible and affordable (2-3 daily servings)
    3. Leafy Greens (unlimited servings)
    4. Whole Grains (2-3 daily servings)
    5. Other Grains (eg. Amaranth, Quinoa, Millet)
    6. Seeds & Nuts (4-5 weekly servings)
    7. Lean Proteins ( from seafood, eggs & poultry, 1-2 daily servings)
    8. Legumes (4-5 weekly servings)
    9. Soy-based Proteins (2 weekly servings)
    10. Healthy Fats (1 daily serving=2 tablespoons oils)
    These super foods when combined with at least 30 minutes of daily exercise are a recipe for also dropping unwanted inches and pounds to get your body back to a lean machine!  I guarantee that you will look and feel great and be in the best shape of your life!  I'm no longer taxed by unhealthy foods that robbed me of energy and sped up my aging.   I now have a 100% improved digestive system, my muscles have toned and developed and I have a higher level of mental alertness.  In short, life has taken a 180 degree turn and I feel like I'm regaining my youth at the age of 48!

    If you want the straight dope on fueling your body with nutritious food and what to avoid, I'm here to help and it won't cost you a penny for the free advice based on my own experience and what has worked for me.  I hope you'll follow my blog and provide me with some feedback on my posts.  I'll be catering good choices that include both dietary and lifestyle changes.  So if you could use a boost to your engine, buckle up for the ride of your life and let's get started!