Monday, December 29, 2014

Pressing on towards 2015

Has it really been a month since my last post?
Shame on me!

The sad thing is that I have also been a bit behind in the whole "healthy living" thing.
Like most people, I have managed to let the holidays dictate my diet and activity levels more than I would have liked. I have the same "winter coat" to shed as so many others.

The good news is that the holiday season is over and a whole new year is about to begin.
It is time to get back on track with good, clean, healthy eating and to up the level of physical activity.

I put some of my Christmas presents (new fitness clothing) to use yesterday and went out for a short (1 mile) run. Although I had been out a few times last summer, this was the first time since my foot surgery last September. It was pretty much the same as a first run in several decades. It was incredibly slow--not much faster than my brisk walking pace. But that's okay. My goal was just to run 1 mile.

For now, I'm actually more interested in adding distance than increasing the pace. I noticed a little inflammation from my right knee and will need to pay more attention to my stride and less attention to the classic rock music in my ear buds.

Because I still have a month of work before retiring, I'm giving myself a little break on regular exercise time until I have a less crazy schedule. I'm not going to put off exercising everyday, it's just that I have learned that a different workday everyday isn't very conducive to a routine of any kind--sleep, eating, exercise.

As for regular exercise, I really want to incorporate yoga into my routine. I've been to a couple of sessions with Chris and probably need to do that some more before going it on my own. However, I think I'd be more comfortable at home (and make better use of my time) using a DVD or developing my own routines to suit my needs and goals. If any of you are yoga devotees and have some suggestions about a good yoga video course, please leave it in the comments or send me an email.
I am currently looking at one DVD course and a couple of web based instructional courses.

As for the diet part of healthy living, I am looking forward to having the time to prepare more meals at home. I'll be looking for some healthy recipes and trying to share them here so that you can enjoy them, as well. I hope to post more often and feel that will encourage me to stay the course. Hopefully, it will encourage other to do the same.

All-in-all, 2014 has been a pretty good year on the health front. My weight is down. My blood pressure down. I'm sleeping better. I'm eating better (usually). And I feel much better! I have more energy and am physically able to do things that I couldn't do a year ago.

Let's move on to 2015!

Be well,
John <><

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Still Struggling to Live Healthy

The truth is I am doing much better than I was a couple of years ago. I am very thankful for the progress that I have made but I realize that I have far to go. (I am enjoying a nice hand-rolled Dominican cigar as I type this--not exactly your hallmark of healthy habits!)

Walking is still my regular exercise of choice and the more strenuous stuff seems to find its way to the low end of the priority list. (That's a figurative list, since everybody that knows me knows I don't make lists!)

It's funny how I seem to have a pretty strong will when it comes to regular circumstances and then crumble for the unusual the holidays.
Normally there is no problem with sweets like cookies and candies. But put a little green and red icing on those bad boys and all of a sudden it's, "What harm can a few (dozen) Christmas cookies do?"
Holiday fudge? Well that's different. Sure, I'll have a piece.
Milkshakes would be of no temptation to me...unless it's an eggnog shake, available only for a limited time! Might as well make it a large!

For the past 18 months, I haven't put anything on the permanently off the diet list (again with the figurative list). I just need to really exercise some extreme moderation for the next few weeks.

When those holiday treats hit the office community table or when the parties are loaded with all of those yummy but not so good for you snacks, go ahead and have a few of your favorites. I know I will (my favorites, not yours). Let's enjoy the holidays and all of the festivities. That doesn't mean that we have to undo the positive healthy habits that we have been living with.

Moderation is the key...and knowing when to say "No, thank you."

Be well.
And good luck!

John <><

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Move Along...

I'm still getting my exercise habits established and figuring out what is going to work for me.
I think that what is going to be best (at least for the time being) is to go back to what I was faithfully doing and then add additional weight, yoga or other exercise in on a regular basis.

I like the weight machine for circuit training and strength training, but until I can really establish a good routine, I'm missing too many days and not really making it up with something else. If I go back to the daily walking or riding routine, I think I'll feel better about adding days with the weight machine (even if they are irregularly spaced) than if I schedule them and miss doing anything. I really am hopeful that retiring in January will help greatly when it comes to having a regular schedule for everything from sleeping at night to working out during the day.

Diet continues to be about the same. I know that I need to pay close attention during the coming holidays. All of those holiday baked goods and the seasonal egg nog...I think I could gain weight just thinking about them!

I just need to stay with it.


Monday, November 3, 2014

No Excuse November!

I've never participated in the No Shave November thing. I've never really seen the point.
This year, I'm starting my November activity--No Excuse November!

I'm going to be faithful to my exercise program and  not let the little inconveniences of life keep from my plan--No Excuses! I am still trying to get things figured out as far as what exactly my routine is going to be and I am not afraid to vary it from time to time, nor am I opposed to on-the-fly modifications to accommodate those little inconveniences. I just want to make sure that I keep moving forward (or at least keep moving).

Last week was a bust!
No worries. that was last week.
Today--we work!

It is a Meatless Monday and I started the day with oatmeal (with raisins, cinnamon, butter and milk), toast with jelly, and coffee (no cream). I haven't planned out the rest of my meals and snacks for the day, but I'm sure that a protein smoothie, some fruit, yogurt, peanut butter, eggs, etc. will be a part of the day.

I'll get my workout in pretty soon and maybe skip the elevator at work today or at least try to get a walk in at some point.

What are you doing for your health this month?

Want to join me for No Excuse November?

Be well,
John <><

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Week 3/4: It's a Bust!

Yeah, this has not been a good week on the fitness front.
Diet hasn't been bad, but the fitness part has been pretty non-existent.

I could have managed some exercise time, but just didn't.  I'm not really a get up and exercise person when it comes to an early morning routine and that's what this week needed. I'll have to find another way on similar days in the future.

Fortunately, retirement is only 94 days away and scheduling exercise time will be less of an issue!

I am going to have to find that good rhythm of the right time of day and the right amount of days per week to make this exercise/fitness thing really work. Although I really don't want to wait until February to get started, I expect all will be re-adjusted when I hit that date on the calendar.

I know that this week will pass and next week will start anew. We have plenty on the schedule for the rest of the week and for the weekend so I'll just resign myself to a poor ending to October and work on picking up in November with a fresh start!

No worries.
Life is good.

John <><

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 2 of the exercise routine...

So week one wasn't quite as expected--not a complete failure, but not quite as planned, either.

I realize that part of that has to do with the simple fact that I'm not going to be that guy that has to get it done. I'm actually pleased with four days on the weight machine (instead of the planned six). Although I'm not as happy with the fewer days walking, I'm still not upset about it.

I see it as having done four more days of weights than I did in previous weeks and getting in a couple of days of yoga along with that. All-in-all, it is still a matter of time more than motivation. I'm going to make some adjustments this week, M/W/F strength days (legs/back, arms/shoulders, chest/back) and T/Th circuit training days and a little ab work every day. I'll leave Saturday as an off day or make up day should life get in the way during the week and keep Sunday as a light day for walking, running or other light cardio.

I haven't been back to a yoga class with Chris (and need to go) but have used yoga as a way of stretching and strengthening at the end of several sessions. I am continuing to get more limber and increasing my range of motion while strengthening my core. I'm considering substituting some of the weight machine exercises for simple body weight exercises. I like the idea of simplicity and realize that the machine does isolate muscle groups rather than using the more natural body systems for overall balance and motion. It's just a matter of convenience, space and weight that makes the machine attractive.

I realize that I am fortunate to have the in home equipment that I have, but also realize that the gym and gym equipment is not necessary to be in good physical condition. I am more than willing to trade a day of activity (like the three hours of yard work on Saturday) for a day of "working out" at the gym or at home.

It's Monday morning.
Time to get this week started!

Be well,
John <><

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Good Workout Habits...

It's relatively early for me after a late night at work. I managed two complete sleep cycles (just over 3 hours) before waking up and not being able to fall back to sleep. Instead of laying awake in bed, I decided to get up when Chris left for work in order to get this day started.

I started with a good sized, high protein breakfast--three poached eggs, black beans, rice, pork--530 cal.
And coffee, which should go without saying.
I'll have a protein shake after my morning workout.

I'm on Day 2 of my new workout plan, so it's circuit training/yoga day. I'm going with a little bit more intense workout than my first circuit and expect that I'll be making adjustments to all of my workouts for a little while. It's going to be strength training on Mon/Wed/Fri, circuit training Tues/Thurs/Sat and just a long walk or maybe a run/walk on Sunday. I still plan on getting in a daily walk, run or ride (although I'm still not really running yet).

With Sunday being a easy day to get in a workout, I may switch up a little and make Thursday my easy day. Of course, after January (and retirement), everyday will be a good day for a workout!

Last June I managed to push my weight down to 197 pounds, but settled in on the high side of 200. In the past few months, it's been creeping up to around 205. I'm now on a mission to push it back down to around 190 so that my fluctuations will stay below 195.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm not going to be a fitness fanatic and I don't plan on any high intensity P90X kind of workouts. When it comes right down to it, I'm pretty old school. As a matter of fact, when my brother saw my workout plan, he commented that it was old school. Yeah, so am I.

I think that the new stuff isn't as new as its promoters make it out to be. The P90X muscle confusion method was used in the Vic Tanny/Bally Health Clubs circuit training of THIRTY years ago. It's not revolutionary. It's not new. It's just more intense.
And it is good marketing that targets an audience that wants it all and wants it NOW.

I'm taking on exercise the same way I took on diet.
I want something that is sustainable.
I want to be able to continue with my exercise program for the long haul. I don't want to do something that will cause me to burnout or cause any kind of injury or exercise stopping muscle strain.

Are you doing anything for your health?
A little walk?
Taking the stairs?
Skipping the sugary snack?
Swapping out your soda (even diet soda) for water or maybe green tea?

Just get started.
Even if you're moving slowly, you're still lapping everybody sitting on the couch!

John <><

Monday, October 6, 2014

Workout Time

Life happens and little things have their impact in some unexpected ways.

Last week I decided that it was time to get rid of my beater car and get something more reliable before the winter sets in. Besides, I'll need a different vehicle as I transition towards retirement at the end of January. As it turned out, it was Chris that got the new car and I took her car.

I know--what does getting a new car have to do with Healthy Living?

Well, the new car is a little bit longer than my old car and wouldn't fit into the garage without moving the old weight machine out of the way. I've been putting off moving that beast back into the basement where I might actually get some use out of it since I've been back to semi-regular exercising. So Chris' new car was my motivation.

Over the weekend, I bought some interlocking rubberized flooring squares, dis-assembled the machine, cleaned it up, moved it from the garage to the basement, re-assembled it and now it is ready for use!

I don't plan on lifting to bulk up at all. I do plan on using it more for circuit training, moving from one muscle group to another (upper body to lower body, pushing to pulling, you get the idea) and getting a relatively quick, but effective workout.

In a previous life (30 years ago) I worked at a Bally Health Club and circuit training was a pretty big thing for the time pressed club member -- 10 exercise stations, 1 minute each, 30 seconds to move to the next station and set the weight, twice through the circuit made for a 30 minute workout. Since I don't have to wait on anybody or to move from one station to the next, I'm just going to move quickly from one exercise to the next and take advantage of the cardio effect of no in-between rest period.

I'm certain there will be weight adjustments and exercise changes as I get things worked out, but for starters, here is my plan.

3X per week
10 minute warm up on the stationary bike.

1 minute each exercise, push hard for the rep count, 2X

bench press (chest, arms)
leg extensions (quads)
butterfly (chest)
Roman chair knee raises (abs, hips, back)
squats (legs, glutes, back)
seated press (shoulders, arms)
curls (biceps)
tricep pulldowns (triceps)
lat pulldowns (lats, arms)
crunches (abs)

That's 30 minutes.
Depending on the available time, a 30 minute walk or run to wrap it up.

Here goes...

John <><

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Non-dairy Pumpkin dessert (+my modifications)

I saw this posted on Twitter and decided that I'd give it a try.

I made it according to the recipe with the exception of using regular pancake syrup (Log Cabin) instead of real maple syrup. I'm not a fan of soft, rotting bananas, so the bananas I used were pretty firm. I probably should have pre-mashed them a bit before throwing them into the mix.

After tasting the mix, I thought the pumpkin taste was a little strong, so I added a cup of plain Greek yogurt. I'm not vegan, nor do I have a lactose problem, so adding yogurt works well for me. The bananas give it plenty of sweetness so I will probably cut the syrup amount to 1/4c and use honey instead. I'd also add a little more nutmeg and maybe more cinnamon.

It freezes pretty hard if you let it freeze over night (kind of like freezing homemade ice cream). I was mixing it every 40 minutes or so for a few hours to help it freeze evenly. My suggestion is to make it several hours before serving it and serve it the same day you prepare it.

I also think that adding pieces of baked pie crust would be delicious or serving it in mini pie crusts would be good.

If you try this, be sure to let me know what you think!

John <><

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Exercising the Body; Exercising the Mind.

What was the turning point?
What was it that caused me to go from an out of shape, overweight, unhealthy person to the guy that started eating better, getting some exercise and doing the things that I needed to be doing to become more healthy.

The truth is...

...I had to get my mind right.

I had to make the mental determination that I was heading towards an early death if I didn't make some serious lifestyle changes.

Over the past twenty-one months, I have had my mental lapses. They were followed by the physical lapses--poor diet choices (bad foods and too much of them) and less activity. If I don't keep the mental focus, I lose the physical battles.

I have to admit, I'm not the committed exercise freak that some are. I have no desire to try an intense daily training program. I'm not going to start Cross-fit, P90X, Insanity or any other crazy fitness program. I'm not going to train for a triathlon, half-marathon or even a 5K. When I get tired, I rest. My mental focus isn't up to that kind of training. I simply want to be fit and healthy.

Today, I'm back to refocusing on good, healthy living--mentally! The physical part will follow.
It's just a matter of making one good choice at a time, right?

Eat healthy today...or not.
Get some exercise today...or not.
Keep mentally focused...or not.

One good choice at a time.

Take the stairs...or the elevator.
Watch TV...or take a walk.
Apple...or potato chips.
Soda...or tea...or water.

One good choice at a time, right?

Be well,
John <><

Monday, September 22, 2014

Falling off the to speak

It's been nearly two weeks since my foot surgery (hammer toe correction) and I'm finding out how easy it is to slip out of a more disciplined healthy lifestyle and back into a less disciplined one.

By less disciplined, I simply mean that I'm not paying close attention to what I'm eating and making some less than stellar choices. I've been pretty much sedentary as far as physical activity goes, but that is going to change. In the past couple of days I've managed a couple of short bicycle rides and a little bit of walking. I don't think I'm up to my 4 mph walking pace, nor do I expect to walk 3 or 4 miles, but I am ready to get back to it. I've done a little bit of yoga in the past few days, but find some of the poses difficult and uncomfortable for my foot. Guess I'll just have to do the poses that are not uncomfortable. (Balance, by the way, is much more difficult when a toe doesn't work!)

And as long as it's time to get back to regular exercise, I might as well get back to documenting my food intake. If you're not keeping track of what you eat (including how much), it is amazing at how quickly the extra calories can add up!

I've noticed that since I've been less disciplined about the documentation of what I eat, the pounds have started to creep back on. It has been more noticeable in the two weeks with no exercise. I'm going to strap on a goal of a little more weight loss and work towards ending 2014 at 190. That may be tough with the holiday season, but it is doable if I keep my focus.

Today is the day!

I've had my coffee and my breakfast (300 calories) and now it's time for a walk. It will be slower than my usual pace but they say that even at a slow pace, you're still lapping everybody that's sitting on the couch!

(It's funny that the same people that say things like that are the same people that tell you it isn't about what everybody else is doing. Your only competition is yourself.)

John <><

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Back to Cycling

A few days ago, I wrote this short piece at Out of My Hat about going green.

Yesterday, I managed to buy a cheap bicycle to replace the one I had been using (my daughter's).
Since I'm not an avid cyclist and I don't need it for anything more than getting some exercise, I hated to spend much money on a bicycle. I bought about the cheapest thing that would suit my size and will start riding again.

I was doing most of my riding on my mid-shift breaks and I'm trying to get out of the mid business, so I don't know when I'll get my riding in. Southwest Missouri isn't too biker friendly, with few bike trails and no bicycle lanes. As a matter of fact, there are very few shoulder areas on which to ride. I like using the airport terminal loop at night--it's well lit and there is little traffic. I managed a little over 12 1/2 miles last night.

There is a neighborhood loop that I walk for a few miles and I could use it for cycling. It would be relatively safe but I'm afraid it might get boring. I guess I'll have to weigh the safety factor against the boredom factor and just make sure that I'm getting the ride time in--after all, it is about the exercise.

I'm also going to try a few other things in the way of exercise and conditioning. I think some shorter, more intense workouts are going to find there way into my days. Truthfully, I just don't have the desire to get crazy about being fit. I just want to be a healthy fit, not a fanatic fit.

I would like to be able to bike or walk more when it comes to short errands. I guess I'll look at bicycle locks and scope out areas where that will work. I'm not sure how far I think is too far when it comes to bicycle errands. I suppose that time will also play its part in those decisions. Overall, I'm just trying to be more mindful about good healthy habits and making good environmental choices, as well. They do kind of go together.

Another yoga class tonight, then working a second mid before taking a week off!

Be well,
John <><

Sunday, August 31, 2014

An Introduction...of sorts:

As my Twitter following is growing with a new category of followers (fitness and health), it occurs to me that I may be presenting an unfair bias about who I am in these areas.

The (by an unhealthy guy) part of this blog's title is not very far from the truth. Thankfully, it is getting to be less true as time goes on and I begin to make better decisions about fitness, diet and general health.

I know that social network relationships aren't very deep and, for the most part, we aren't interested in the parts of life that are outside of our social connection. But I find it interesting when I see that we have more than one area of common interest. Some fitness friends also post inspirational quotes and Bible verses that show insights to their spiritual beliefs. Some otherwise healthy eating people share their indulgences from time to time, making them more real to us wannabees.

UFC followers and enthusiasts share many fitness accounts. NASCAR fans...well, are NASCAR fans. My NATCA friends fall into as many diverse categories as I do. You get the idea.

In any case, if you are interested, here are several posts from my other blog, Out of My Hat, that are together pretty much a tell all about me. They are listed here in the order that they appeared in Out of My Hat.

Who am I?
Facebook and Random Things
Ten Honest Things About John
Who am I (again)
And finally...
Am I really an Enigma or Conundrum?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Are you still dieting?

Are you still dieting?
It's a question that I get asked from time to time.

My answer is that I was never dieting. I changed my diet.
I wasn't looking for a diet when I finally decided that it was time to lose the extra weight I was carrying around. I knew that I needed to change the way I was eating and the way I was living. I knew that if I couldn't find a sustainable way of living, I would eventually go back to the bad habits and lifestyle of the past and put any lost weight back on.

My diet, my way of life, now consists of mostly healthy foods in portions that are more in line with my needs than to simply eat until I'm stuffed full.

My way of life also includes some regular exercise. It's nothing too strenuous for the most part. I have started doing a little yoga. I don't think that it will replace walking or anything else that I've been doing, but I do like it and look forward to advancing to something more difficult. As it is, the simple stuff is challenging enough for a beginner. The breathing, the balance, the's going to be awhile before I get to the really challenging poses and moves.

Are you still dieting?

Let me encourage you to stop with the short-term temporary changes to your eating habits.
Stop dieting and simply change your diet. Eat healthy foods that you like and learn to prepare other healthy foods in different ways so that you can enjoy them, too!  Eat sensible portions and at sensible times based on your physical needs. Learn the value of low calorie density foods and the benefits of eating raw foods and whole foods. Experiment with different foods, spices and preparation methods.

...And stop dieting!

Be well,
John <><

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Where is Thomas Edison's Doctor?

"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease." --Thomas Edison

Unfortunately, such doctor's are in the minority in Edison's future (our present) world.

I think that too many of today's doctors are agents of the pharmaceutical companies. Drugs that treat symptoms are the script of the day. We treat the symptoms of our illnesses rather than preventing disease in the first place.

We have allowed ourselves to believe the lies of the big food companies and the pharmaceutical companies that we can live and eat as we want and then take a pill that will counteract the effects of our bad decisions. We have allowed our government to supplement these companies so that they make huge profits while poisoning the people into poor health and premature death.

I know of more and more people that are finally seeing the light and either growing their own food or looking for organically grown, non GMO foods at farmers' markets and their local grocery stores.

In a world where information is readily available, it is amazing that we ignore the information that can give us more productive and longer lives in favor of pigging out on another greasy burger topped with bacon and three kinds of cheese. Add a side of trans-fat fried potatoes and a sugar filled soda, please!

But I don't like vegetables! I'm a meat and potatoes guy!

Recently, I was told that the French have a way of dealing with children that are picky eaters. When met with an "I don't like broccoli (or whatever else they might not like)," the response is "You don't like the way it is prepared. We'll prepare it differently and try it again."

Find a way to eat the foods that you need to eat. I do take supplements, but supplements are not a replacement for good foods.
Eat real food; real vegetables, real fruit, and small amounts of good meats (if you choose to eat meat).
Be active. Walk more often. Park far away from your destination. Take the stairs.
Small steps. Just keep moving.

While we still need doctors for many things, we don't need them for learning about good health. On whatever device you are reading this blog, you have access to the libraries and the knowledge of the world. Whether or not you choose to apply it for good health and long life is up to you.

Be well,
John <><

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Widow-maker

The Widow-maker.

It used to be an appropriate moniker for the killer coronary.
But we are finding that the heart attack is an equal opportunity killer when it comes to gender as women are nearly as likely as men to suffer from heart attack or stroke.

Over the past year or so, I have known (or known of) a number of people that are close to my age that have suffered a stroke or heart attack. Some of them you might have looked at and thought, "Yeah, they were a ticking time bomb." Others would have caught you by surprise.

It's pretty easy to look at somebody that is severely overweight and say that they're destined for some severe health problems. It's surprising that there are overweight people that are otherwise healthy. It can also be surprising that there are average or underweight people that are in very poor health. Poor habits (smoking, too many fried foods, too much processed sugars, inactivity) can all lead to conditions of poor health. It's absolutely mind boggling that we can starve ourselves while getting fatter and fatter, but it's true...we can.

We can pile on the pounds and still be undernourished or malnourished.

We can eat ourselves to death (and are doing that) the same as we can starve ourselves to death. We can fill our arteries with crap and block the blood flow to our heart and our brain.

...And it can happen at any time.

At my recent flight physical, the receptionist asked me about my recent weight loss (60 pounds in the last year). She wanted to know what it was that finally made me realize that losing weight was important enough to stick with it for a whole year.

I told her that it was just time...and a realization that I was about the same age as my dad was when he had his first heart attack! I was on the same road. I knew that I was a prime candidate for a heart attack or stroke. Over the years, my blood pressure had started to climb. I wasn't on any meds, but I knew there were days when it was too high. I ate crappy foods, didn't get enough sleep, didn't get any exercise and was too busy to hear the quiet, but steady ticking of the clock...sooner or later...tick, tick, tick...BOOM!

It was bound to happen...unless I could dismantle the bomb.

I'm not telling you these things to toot my own horn. It's more like sounding a warning. You already know who you are and what you are heading towards. Are you going to be like the friends I mentioned earlier and wait until you are so close to death that you scare everybody around you, as well as yourself? Or will you take steps to begin to dismantle the ticking time bomb?

You can wait until you're forced to make wholesale changes in your diet and physical activity and have to make them in adverse conditions.
Or you can begin now to make small, but good changes.

Sure, I know that we all have our vices. Maybe yours is smoking cigarettes and mine is eating fatty foods. Maybe one of you sits all day at work and is a couch potato at home. Somebody never eats vegetables and somebody else drinks too much.

At some point we have to assess the damage we're doing and examine the long term risks. What are you willing to sacrifice to continue to indulge in your poor health habits? It might be true that your habits aren't going to have a great impact in the immediate future. But what about the distant future? Is a life of gluttony today worth years of your life later?

I know that death eventually comes to all of us. And for the most part, we don't get to choose how we die.
However, we do get to choose how we live.
And we can choose to live in such a way to promote a good quality of life and to give our bodies a fighting chance against the attacks of diseases and maladies that come with age and exposure to life.

What would you be willing to trade for a few more years with your loved ones? Is there one bad habit that you would be willing to give up? Maybe there is something you'd be willing to do...a little exercise, a daily walk, adding some real food to your get the idea.

We may not be able to avoid death, but perhaps we can at least live life in a way that we meet it on own terms and in our own time.

Be well,
John <><

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Activity vs Exercise

Yes, I am definitely becoming a person that is about daily exercise. But let's face it, the only reason most of us need regular exercise periods is because we are not active enough in our normal, daily routines.

Even if you throw out the mile walk around the park perimeter yesterday, I still managed almost 10,000 steps. We played catch in the park, hit a few balls (and chased a few), walked to lunch (and back), walked a good distance from parking to the ballpark (and back) and had a very enjoyable time!

Even though there was no "cardio" and no strength building, I can see why many cultures are less focused on fitness and more healthy than we are. My normal routine takes me from my home to my car to where ever I want to go. I walk the few step from parking and reverse that to return.

I wonder how much the urban flight of decades past contributed to our obesity problem and the general decline in public health. Where I live, there are no neighborhood stores, neighborhood schools, nor neighborhood churches. There are just neighbors (that we don't know very well).
There are few sidewalks and no road shoulders or bicycle lanes. This safest way to get from your home to where you are going is to get into your car.

Unfortunately, most of rural America is like this. Unfortunately, most of our suburbs are like that (except for maybe the sidewalk thing). And unfortunately, most of us are just too inactive. We have to have exercise routines just to provide our bodies with activity that our daily routines are missing.

I expect that today will be mildly active. I expect that tomorrow will not. I'll be back to my normal, inactive routine and I'll once again be compelled to force activity (by way of exercise) into my day.

How are you staying active? Is yours an active lifestyle or are you forced to set aside time for physical activity (exercise)? Or do you just choose to remain inactive?

Whether you lead an active life or get your activity through exercise, it's important to your overall health.

Good health and exercise really isn't just about adding days to your life. It's about adding life to your days.
You'll feel better.
You'll live better.
You'll be better!

Be well,
John <><

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fitness Addict...NOT!

I'm becoming one of them!

(Note to them: I'm not really becoming one of you so no worries.)

I'm talking about those fitness crazy people. You know the type--the P90X, Insanity, Cross-fit, always training, gym rat type of people.

Like I said, I'm not really becoming one of them.
But I am becoming a little bit more like them.

I'm beginning to feel bad (not sick bad, more like sad bad) if I miss a day of exercise.  Of course, my idea of exercise is a brisk two mile walk not some crazy high intensity interval training that leaves you half dead.

Like I said, I'm not really becoming one of them.

I do, however, find myself looking forward to being able to do some running after some corrective foot surgery next month.
...And that's just weird.

I don't even know that disturbing little voice. I didn't like running when I was a teen and was a decent runner. I used to hate the road work part of training. Who is this "fitness John" voice in my head and from where did it come?

And what about this burpee challenge thing? Why do I think this is something I need to do? Can't I just be satisfied that I did a hundred of them? What does it prove if I manage to do them in 12 minutes or less? Who might be impressed by that? (Other than me!)

(Oh, and note to self: That is high intensity training!)

If I continue down this fitness road, is it going to get worse? Am I going to become "one of them" (or one of you if you're one of them)?

Geez, I hope not!

I mean, I like the feeling fit part, but the whole fitness addiction thing is disturbing to me. I'm guessing that there really is some type of hormonal addiction that takes place. The compulsion to exercise appears to be greater than what one would expect from just feeling good or experiencing better health.

I've always thought "those fitness people" are a little whacked in the head.
And I'm telling you, "I am not becoming one of them!"

This may become a real problem. Trust me when I say that I'm not going back to the fat, lazy guy that can (and will) eat six Burger King Whoppers at a time. I happy with the good food diet and the better health body. I like more energy, better sleep, slimmer looking John over the fat boy. But I really don't want to get crazy about it.

Is there such a thing as a moderate addiction? Isn't the nature of any addiction to overtake the addicted one?
Maybe not.
I've managed to cut back on my coffee...and that's an addiction, right?
Okay. I'll try to keep it under control.
But I'm still counting on my non-fitness junkie friends to help me from going too far.

As a matter of fact, why not come along with me on a nice, easy, moderately challenging fitness journey? We can do this together. We can hold each other accountable and make certain that nobody goes over to the dark side of the fitness addict. Everybody is healthier, happier and nobody gets too crazy!

John <><

(Note: I am publishing this on both blogs...because I can.)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Amazing Human Machine

I've been learning a lot about our body's way of dealing with the whole energy in/energy out thing over the past few years. In some ways, I've been pretty slow about putting that knowledge to good use.

It would appear that we are designed as pretty efficient organisms when it comes to energy consumption. As a matter of fact, we operate best in a near starvation mode. When it comes to our typical first world diet, less is definitely better. The problem with supplying an energy efficient organism with too much energy is where do you store the excess?

Imagine that you have a very fuel efficient car. But in the economy of our imaginary world, you buy fuel every day. At the end of the day, you store any unused fuel. At the end of day 1, you only have a little extra fuel and so you place it in a specially designed storage bag and throw it in the trunk. You can get the fuel out of the bag when ever you want, but only if there is no other fuel available and only if you follow certain procedures.

Tomorrow comes and you are ready to fuel up for the day. You have a choice--you can use up what was stored (in your trunk) from yesterday, but you won't be able to fill up with fuel until it's gone. You decide that would be inconvenient. You'll go ahead and fill up now and just save the extra fuel for another time. At the end of day two, you fill another specially designed storage bag and store it in your trunk, as well.

Before long, your trunk is full of these special storage bags of fuel. There is more than enough to get you through a day but it's going to be a pain to get the fuel out of each bag and into the tank where you can use it. The truth is that it is much easier to leave the fuel stored and just fill up the tank like you always do.

When the trunk becomes full, you begin to store fuel bags in the engine compartment, then the passenger area. This presents a whole new set of problems. Not only are you hauling around the extra weight of fuel stored in your trunk, you are now causing the engine to struggle to get enough oxygen through its air intake and causing it to work harder in a crowded environment and you are becoming uncomfortably crowded as well. Driving is beginning to be unsafe as the fuel bags shift around inside your car.

Again, you could use the stored fuel if you really wanted to--but that would take some work on your part.

That's what might happen if we fueled up our cars like we fuel up our bodies.

But what would happen if we fuel up our bodies like we fuel up our cars?
What would happen if we only added fuel when we needed it?
What would happen if we were more conscientious about the quality of the fuel we used?
What would happen if there was no warranty and the only way to make sure that our bodies would last was to take good care of them?

Our prosperity and abundance has caused a great problem for our extremely efficient energy burning bodies!
We are storing away fuels that are beginning to poison our systems. We are clogging our fuel lines, blocking our air intake and adding weight to our load with each extra bit of fuel (food) that we add to our systems. We have switched from the more desirable foods to the most abundant foods and traded away quality performance for sluggish lives that manage to make it through the day and are worn out and tired...all of the time!

I have been guilty of living to eat!
I have planned trips around what I would eat and where I would stop.
I have over indulged by eating the largest servings and the tastiest foods until I was miserable.
I have used chemical sweeteners to reduce calories (trading one poison for another doesn't sound so appealing when you put it in those terms).
I have spent the day sitting on my ever widening ass--day after day after day.

But I am learning.
And I am changing.

I still have a long ways to go, but I am eating better and I am eating less. I am learning how different foods affect my energy, my sleep, my gut, etc.
I am learning that I can eat what I want, when I want...if I'm willing to endure the consequences of my choices.
I am learning what to eat to feed the systems and keep things running smoothly.
I am learning that some foods are great energy boosters and some are naturals at helping to relax for a good night's rest.
I am learning that water is awesome and that clean drinking water is a blessing that we take for granted.

I don't know if any of this makes any sense to anybody else or not. It's not something that I really thought out. I just started typing and that's what came out. It works in my pea brained way of thinking. If it doesn't make sense to you, well you'll have to come up with your own reasons for why you need to stop what you're doing that isn't working for good health.

For me, my new food mantra is going to be, "Enough, is enough!"
It's time I am satisfied with enough!

Be well,
John <><

Sunday Morning Smoothie

Today's breakfast smoothie is packed with great stuff!

1/2c dry oats
1/2c skim milk
1/2c frozen blueberries
1c spinach leaves
1 apple
1 scoop whey protein powder
cinnamon as you like

Good and good for you!

Fiber from the oats and apple. Antioxidents from the spinach and blueberries. Metabolism boost from the cinnamon and 30+ grams of protein! Just under 500 calories!


Be well,
John <><

Monday, August 4, 2014

A New Month's Challenges

After a "bad" weekend on the dietary front and a slow weekend on the fitness front, it is time to get about setting goals for the month of August.

Several months before I actually hit my weight loss goal I said that it wasn't really about weight loss anymore. That was easy to do for a couple of reasons. 1) I knew I would make my goal. and 2) It really was about better health.

I wanted (and have found) a sustainable way to eat for good health. I figured that when my dietary habits and activity level reached a balance, I would stop losing weight and begin to maintain a good body weight for an unhealthy guy with decent eating habits and moderate physical activity.

And that has happened, but...

Those slight weight fluctuations are bugging me a little bit. I hate it when the scale reads on the heavy side of 200. I know that I still carry a small (or not so small) amount of "extra" weight and could stand to trim some more fat. I have not been a fitness crazy person and don't expect to become one. However, I do want to push my base weight down a few pounds so that those 3-4 pound fluctuations still keep my weight on the light side of 200.

In the next four weeks:
I'm going to get my weight down to 193. I know that sounds like an odd weight to shoot for but it's -65 from my starting weight of 258 from 6/1/13.
I'm going to improve on my Burpee Challenge time of 15:17 (I actually hate this goal).
I'm going to begin working muscle groups for exercises vs just doing daily cardio.
and I'm going back to being more diligent about tracking calories.

I'm cutting back on the mids I'm working in hopes to be able to better regulate my overall schedule. I think that a more regular sleep schedule will help with more regular eating habits and more regular exercise habits. It's easy enough to get a walk in pretty much anytime of day; harder to get in a workout session. Sometimes getting up a little bit earlier doesn't work out for me. It seems that I may have intentions of going to bed early enough to make it feasible, but that hasn't worked out to be the case the last couple of times that I planned on it!

Of course, sitting and typing while enjoying my morning coffee isn't burning any calories either! Better get going!

Have a great week.
Be well,

John <><

Friday, August 1, 2014

It's August!

On the health front I finished July at pretty much the same weight that I began the month. I managed to let a few pounds creep on but caught up before it got out of control and am back at the 198 mark. I think I'm going to push for a few extra pounds so that when I drift up a few pounds I can still be around 195 or so; 193 would be -65 from my starting point.

On the fitness side of healthy living, I've been doing okay about keeping active. My walking pace has improved to just over 4 mph. I haven't been on the bike much this month (except for the occasional indoor cycle). I'm not sure why, I just haven't.

I did my "burpee challenge" this morning. Ugh!

My main goal was to do 100 of the devilish things. I wasn't too concerned with the time. I wasn't expecting to make it in 12 minutes. A month ago, I wasn't expecting much of anything.
Ha! A year ago I probably couldn't have done one!

I'll keep working on it until I can get them done in less than 12 minutes. My first challenge time was 15 minutes, 17 seconds. Since I'm not too much on killing myself for fitness (too old for that nonsense), I'll shoot for around 13:30 in September and <12 in October.The bad part about that is I'll be doing burpees for the next couple of months!

Sacre Bleu!

Diet wise, I've been adding some whole grains and breads back in to my diet. Don't worry, I.m still paying attention to the calorie count and when I'm eating--easy on the carbs late in the day and sticking to fruit for the sweet tooth! I've managed four consecutive meatless days and don't feel the least bit trendy all of a sudden. I'm moving away from the protein powder a little at a time and trying to get more protein from real food rather than anything processed.

Over all, I feel good.

If you're just getting started (or need to get started), don't worry if you're starting small. Small steps in the right direction still get you moving in the right direction.
Make one commitment for exercise. (Walk for 20 minutes three times this week.)
Make one dietary change. (maybe eat three new vegetables this week or cut out bread)
Make one lifestyle change. (park your car farther away or set a regular bed time)
Just get started.
And keep it up!

Have a healthy weekend!
Be well,

John <><

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Weight Management

I've decided that this whole weight management thing is a pain in the butt when you look at it as weight management. I've really abandoned the idea of "dieting" for weight loss or weight maintenance and adopted the philosophy of eating for good health.

As a part of that, I'm beginning a shift in how I consume energy (eat) by basing  it on my energy needs. I'm going to move towards the eating philosophy of "Breakfast like a king. Lunch like a prince. Dinner like a pauper."

While this is counter cultural to our society's way of eating, it makes great sense from an energy management perspective. The time of day when we need to fuel up is in the morning. Breakfast should be a healthy mix of high energy, long lasting foods with good carbs, good fats and lean protein.

I'm shooting for about half of my daily calories at breakfast, a third at lunch and the balance in a couple of snacks and a small dinner. This makes sense in my head and should work well in practice. I'll keep you posted on the reality.

Be well,
John <><

Monday, July 28, 2014

Another Meatless Monday Recipe

I thought I'd share a quick and easy meatless Monday recipe.

I started by preparing some dried lentils according to the package instructions. I seasoned mine with garlic powder, some dried sweet basil and crushed red pepper.

I drained them and rinsed them with cold water and added just a little bit of olive oil.
Then I added a can of Rotel Original tomatoes and green chilis. I diced a garden fresh cucumber and a quarter of a large red onion and added them to the mix. I didn't have any fresh cilantro, but found some dried cilantro in the spice rack. After tasting it, I decided on a little more garlic and more red pepper, as well.

I sliced a large zucchini into thin slices, topped it with a generous portion of the lentils, sprinkled some Monterrey Jack and cheddar cheese on top and hit the microwave for about 35 seconds.


I think that next time I'll make sure we have some fresh cilantro and perhaps a little fresh lime juice would be good, too!

John <><

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday morning thoughts...

It's nice to be sitting in my own home with a freshly brewed cup of coffee. I really don't mind being on the road, but it does interrupt my already irregular schedule.

While I managed the exercise part of my daily routine fairly well, the diet part pretty much sucked. Eating on the road is much tougher. Even if you manage to make healthy choices (and I don't always), it is difficult not to rush through a meal in order to get back on the road.
...And the portion sizes! Ugh!

It's easy to blame environment or company, but in the end--we make our own decisions. Many of my diet choices have not been to my benefit lately. It's time to get back to making bad choices the exception to an otherwise healthy meal plan. I have managed to put a few pounds back on over the past month and need to reverse that trend right away.

One of the benefits of the calendar is that every 24 hours you get a new day; every seven days, a new week; and every 4+ weeks, a new month!

Today is a new day and the first day of a new week.
What ever you have been putting off, start!
What ever you have been messing up, fix!
What ever goals you have set aside, renew!

What's it gonna be?
Give up and lose?
Or fight on?

Be well,
John <><

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Healthy Eating ...FAIL!

I knew that I was going to be making a stop at a White Castle yesterday. I knew that the two double jalapeno cheeseburgers that I was going to have were not a healthy choice.  I didn't expect to add a few single jalapeno cheeseburgers or an order of fries...but I did.


Those calories add up quickly...especially the fries!

For the most part, I've avoided both potatoes and fried foods. I eat potatoes more as a condiment with meals, rather than a side dish. When frying foods, I generally use coconut oil.

Oh, well!

Over all the day wasn't a complete bust. My total calorie intake wasn't too bad and I managed to get in a couple of miles walking. I'll get some walking in today, as well and I'll do better on the food side. If you're in the same daily struggle of fighting good choices vs bad choices, I'd say don't sweat it if you manage to make good choices most of the time. I still occasionally have snack foods like potato chips. I still have an occasional ice cream. I eat hamburgers, hotdogs and brats...all in limited amounts, and all with an awareness of the consequences.

Sometimes the trade off is a little extra walking (never enough to off-set the extra calories); sometimes it's less eating later and sometimes (most of the time) it's putting the day behind me and moving on.
So today, I'll be back on track with no real harm done.

I will say that I can now feel the physical effects of the poor choices...poor digestion, poor energy and an overall sluggish feeling. I think that once you've pretty much eliminated the crap from your diet, it is much easier to sense the effects of those unhealthy foods in an otherwise healthy diet.
I guess that's a good thing.

Have a healthy day.
Eat well.
Exercise (even a little).
Make good choices.

Be well,
John <><

Monday, July 21, 2014

Motivational Monday

Just a quick note to start the work week.

It is going to be a difficult week to get exercise time into my days. I'll be spending plenty of time behind the wheel on a couple of days and out of my regular routine on others. Right now I'm thinking of adding 30 minutes or so to my drive time and stopping for a brisk two-mile walk in the middle of those drive days.

I'll just have to find the time on the other days to get some activity. Body weight exercises, pushups, squats, lunges and the dreaded burpees are always easy options for exercise and fitness. Diet also proves to be challenging on the road.

For today, the challenging week proves to be motivation to get off to a good start: meatless Monday for the diet; burpees and walking for the fitness.

Have a great week!
Be well,

John <><

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Help! I've Fallen and ...Oh, I'll get up when I'm ready to get up!

Yeah, it's been one of those weeks!
I haven't completely fallen off of the healthy living bandwagon, but I have regressed a little bit this past week.
Diet hasn't been too bad (other than the all-you-can-eat fried fish night) and just eating more than I need to eat. We were low on fruit this week and it was easier to eat what was here (not too bad, but not what has become a regular part of my diet) than to go to the store for fresh fruits and vegetables.

Also, the exercise part of my day has been a little bit off. I'm not sure what has contributed to that other than I've just been too lazy to get my butt out the door and do something. I have decided that I'll have to give up on the idea of running until I take care of a minor foot issue caused by a not so minor hammer toe condition. The encapsulation caused by this changes my stride and causes some joint discomfort. Even walking causes some inflammation but I can deal with that and keep walking. Looks like walking, biking and Nordic Track for exercise for a little while longer.

I've also got that 100 burpee challenge that is coming up in just two weeks.
What was I thinking?
I skipped my Friday burpee  workout due to some elbow pain. I'm not sure what that was about, but I need to get back after it if I'm going to manage 100 of those devilish things. I did sixty on Wednesday and need to build up to the 100. I don't have any ideas of making it in 12 minutes as suggested in the challenge. I'm just hoping to complete the 100. I guess I'll be forced to continue the monthly challenge until I actually manage to do 100 in less than 12 minutes. Ugh!

Overall, the fitness/health thing does kind of get in your blood. I feel better when I'm eating right and getting some exercise. I'm not to the point of feeling guilty when my diet gets off track or I don't exercise, but I definitely notice the difference.

My weight has pretty much leveled off at the 200 lb. mark. Sometimes it's a little under, rarely a little over. I'm thinking about pushing to drop it a little bit more so that my 2-3lb fluctuations will keep me around the 195 mark (or less). At this point, I realize that it will take a lot of focus to drop a few more pounds.

Well, it's late afternoon and the temp is an unseasonably mild 80F. I better get out and walk a few miles.

Time to get back on the fitness wagon!

Be well,
John <><

Monday, July 14, 2014

Knowledge is Power

I know there is a lot of information available about dieting and fitness. Some of it is pretty good. Most of it is junk. Sorting through everything available can be a pretty daunting task. Over the years, I've read quite a bit about health and diet. I've found that most books and articles have a bit of truth surrounded by whatever hype is necessary to sell whatever product or program to make the writer rich. Books (and articles) that have no product nor program to pitch tend to be less deceptive.

It has been a lot of years since I first read the book on The Adkins' Diet. I found the science about insulin production and insulin resistance to be a real eye opener about how I was eating. I also found that the way the information was being used was far different from what Dr. Adkins was recommending in his book. Too often we think that if doing something is good, then doing it to extreme must be better. Not true. Dr. Atkins never intended for the induction phase of his diet to be extended indefinitely or until you reached your goal weight and then have the whole thing dumped until you put the weight back on and start again. High fiber, low impact fruits and vegetables were to be added back into your diet in a sustainable amount. Overall, I found it to be a very helpful book.

I never read Dr. Barry Sears' book on The Zone diet, but did read his book on Toxic Fat. Again, I found the science to be fascinating...and a bit scary! While I don't agree with all of his philosophies, I did gain a lot of information about how the human body reacts to foods, fats and other stimuli. These two books have been the basis for the diet that has become my way of eating, losing and maintaining a decent weight, and staying fit and healthy (at least healthier).

If you're not that into reading and are looking for a more simple read and simple solution to a sustainable diet, I'd recommend David Zinczenco's the Abs Diet. It's pretty much a guys' book on a better way to eat and exercise. There is also the Abs Diet for Women. There are companion books with quick meal guides and an Abs Diet Cookbook.

Several months ago, over on Out of My Hat, I wrote about how "diet" is a way of life rather than a temporary way of eating. Think of it this way--If you continue with your present diet and lifestyle, you'll continue to have your present health and body weight. If you want that to change, you have to change what you are eating and doing.

Simple steps.
For me, step one was to get some information.

Be well,
John <><

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Blueberry/Spinach Smoothie

My Sunday morning smoothie:

1/2c frozen blueberries
1c spinach
1/2c non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/2c skim milk
1tsp cinnamon
1 scoop Body Fortress vanilla whey protein

328 calories
44g protein

Good morning!

John <><

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Healthy Habits for the Lazy Guy

I am not a fitness nut.
I am not going to engage in a strenuous exercise program.
I am not going to train for a marathon, half marathon or even a 5K run.
I doubt that I'll ever ride a bike for more than an hour.
Or take an overnight trip in a kayak.

I am perfectly happy with an almost daily walk and an occasional challenge to give my exercise a little additional purpose.

I am working on a couple of things that are not at all typical for the lazy guy in me, but they are just something to do so that I can say that I did them.

The thing that I find to be true about exercise is...get this: It's good for you!

I am still convinced that you eat to manage weight and exercise for good health. I know that there are plenty of thin, out of shape, unhealthy people. I don't want to be one of them. So I walk. Sometimes, I run. Occasionally, I ride or paddle or do some other exercise for variety.

Right now, my project is a 100 burpee challenge in twelve minutes.
Burpees are an evil, all body type of exercise that was developed in hell to give us an idea of how well we have it as we live a life with out them. Legs, back, abs, arms, chest and cardio; burpees take care of all of them.
At this point, I'm not convinced that I can even do 100 of the devilish things.

Six months ago I probably couldn't have even done the squat-thrust part of one. For one thing, I couldn't squat past my still shrinking belly to get my hands on the floor in front of me. And I certainly didn't have the abs to pull my extended legs back under me to return to a squatting position, nor the arms to do 100 push-ups (even one at a time). I have until the first Friday of August to get ready for the monthly challenge. That's good, because I like to work up to these things more slowly than your typical fitness nut.

Last night I did 40 in 6 minutes. I'm sure that I could have done more, but like I said earlier, I'm a bit lazy when it comes right down to it. I did 20 in 1 minute, 45 seconds. Then I rested for 1 minute and 45 seconds. For my second set I did 10 in 50 seconds...then I rested for 50 seconds. A final set of 10 in another 50 seconds made 40 in 6 minutes.

In the next three weeks I'll have to increase the sets and decrease the rest time, but I think I can do it.

In the mean time, I'll keep watching what I eat and trying to live the more healthy lifestyle which has become my new normal. If you care to make some simple changes to turn things around as far as weight or health goes, I'd suggest avoiding fast foods and fried foods, drink more water, and take a walk every day.

If you are interested in joining me for the challenge, let me know. I've already had a couple of takers. Why not join us? As it stands, the people that have said they're in are already pretty fit. What ever your fitness level might be, let's set a baseline for August and see if we can't beat it for the first Friday of September.

It'll be fun...NOT!
But it will be for our good health!

John <><

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Today's Smoothie

I should begin by saying that I generally measure, bag and freeze my fruit at the beginning of the week. Freezing my fruit gives me the cold frozen smoothie rather than the slushie that you get from adding ice. I wouldn't recommend this unless you have a pretty high powered blender. It's a work out for my VitaMix and the blender I use at work can't really handle it.

This week I bagged 1/2 cup portions of red raspberries an blueberries and 1 cup portions of strawberries and spinach leaves (yes, I freeze the spinach leaves, too). I also sliced and bagged bananas (1 banana/bag).

A bag of each went into the VitaMix along with a cup of skim milk and a scoop of Body Fortress vanilla whey protein. I added a little more milk during the mixing process to help the machine along.
This makes enough for a good sized serving now (about 20-24 oz) and enough to fill my 1/2 liter thermos to take to work for later.

Total calories 538
protein 44g

The fruit adds lots of sugar at 56g and fiber at 15g.

Plus you get great anti-oxidants from the berries.

It is 100% good!

John <><

Sunday, July 6, 2014

For Your Meatless Monday...

I've been doing Meatless Monday for a little while now. One less day of meat is probably good for me (you, too). Some day I'll post some of the benefits of going meatless for a day. For today, I thought I'd give you a recipe to try should you decide to go meatless for a day.

It's a simple guy recipe. That means that it's easy to make.

I heat a skillet and then add a little bit of coconut oil to the hot skillet.
I then add some chopped onions, turn the heat down to medium and let them begin to brown.
I open a can of black beans and rinse all of the canned liquids away. Add them to the skillet.
I also add a can of Rotel tomatoes and green chilis.
I season this with garlic powder, cumin, crushed red peppers, chili powder and black pepper.

Take a Pablano pepper, cut it in half and clean out the seeds. Fill each half with your black bean mix and top with some shredded cheddar cheese. You can throw it in the microwave for a few seconds to melt the cheese or just let the cheese melt from the heat of the beans. You'll have enough to fill three or four peppers.

It's pretty good.

If you're not into the meatless thing, start with ground beef or ground turkey. Anyway you look at it, it's a good meal!

I addition to going meatless on Mondays, I've been starting my week with a 20 hour fast. I finish Sunday with a light snack around 10pm and then have my meatless stuffed pepper for dinner around 6pm Monday. Other than my morning coffee and vitamins, it's water until dinner time.

Have a great week!
Be well,

John <><

Saturday, July 5, 2014

In a fitness doldrum...and my July challenge.

The "Doldrums" are a place on the sea where there are no winds. It is a place where a sailing vessel might be stuck for days at a time; waiting on currents or the slightest of breezes to move it along.

For the past few days, that's where I've been. I did manage a nice walk yesterday (3 miles), but I've done little else since the calendar turned to July. Oh, I've done a little stretching and some light exercises, but nothing that is going to move me along the path of better health and fitness. In the doldrums, there is little external motivation and in the case of the large sailing ships, little internal means to move out of them.

Fortunately, in the fitness world there is plenty of both--plenty of external motivators and an internal voice that says you just have to move...a little, just enough to get out of the doldrums.

On Friday, I ran across a site (or rather, it ran across my twitter feed) that is a monthly burpee challenge; a timed 100 burpee challenge on the first Friday of every month. To be honest, I'm not sure I can do 100 of these--even with the poor form of the girl in the video clip. I do have a month to get ready for the August challenge.Anybody want to try it with me?

I'll be happy if I can do 100 in any amount of time. I'm not sure that I could do 100 even without the push up portion. It wasn't that long ago that I didn't have the ab strength to get my legs back under me in a quick motion, nor did I have the flexibility to squat to the initial position very well to begin with!

And 100 push ups! Even at 1 rep at a time it sounds like a killer workout!

So that's it. Tomorrow I start.

...and I went kayak shopping today. I'll probably hit Springfield lake again this week. If it turns out that I go very often, having my own will be a better deal than renting one every time. And it will give me the flexibility of going where I want to go instead of being limited to the same place all of the time. There are some very nice (and very expensive) ones out there, to be sure. As much as I'd like on of those, I'm sure I'll start with a lower cost one. I don't plan on needing to haul a lot of gear and I don't plan on hitting any hard waters. I just want to get some exercise (and maybe do a little fishing at some point). Maybe that's where I'll spend my holiday pay from working on Friday!

Any takers on the burpee challenge. We can motivate each other on our way to better health and fitness!

John <><

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Healthy lunch

This past weekend I was in the grocery store and heading toward the checkout lanes when I ran into a friend from church. She comment on my weight loss and noticed my healthy food laden cart. She also said in a statement/question kind of way, "It costs a lot more to eat healthy, doesn't it?"

I responded by saying that I think the greatest cost is in the amount of time it takes to eat healthy. I could tell from her look that she was thinking that she didn't have the time.

I haven't noticed that food costs more. In fact, I have noticed that I eat less food when I eat well. Maybe that helps to offset the higher cost. I don't really know.

I thought I share some of the "healthy" foods that I'm bringing to work these days.

This week I made a chicken salad. In keeping with the "unhealthy guy" theme of the blog, I used canned chicken. If you have the time, you can cook your own chicken breasts to use.

2 large cans on canned chicken
3 hard boiled eggs
4 stalks of celery chopped
some green onions (I don't remember how much)
1 chopped Anaheim pepper
1/2 chopped yellow bell pepper
some roasted sunflower seeds
some pine nuts
some craisins (I just looked to see what we had and threw some stuff in)
a couple of spoonfuls of sweet relish
garlic powder
crushed red peppers
black pepper
dried cilantro (we didn't have any fresh)
and some olive oil mayo

It made a pretty big bowl.

I peeled a cucumber, cut it in half lengthwise and scooped out the seeds with a spoon.
then I filled the halves with the chicken salad.

I get a good tasting salad with no bread. It tastes as good as it looks!

Let me know if you try this!
John <><

Sunday, June 29, 2014


June is almost over and I am very happy to have just one day left in the 30-day Ab Challenge!
I can't say that I'm happy that I did it or that I received any noticeable benefit from it. I'm just glad that I stuck it out and that it will end with tomorrow's 125 sit-ups, 200 crunches, 65 leg raises and 120s plank.

So, what do I do for July?

One of the negatives (to losing 60 pounds) that I'm discovering is that sitting is less comfortable. I've lost most of my ass padding!  I guess I'm going to have to start working on building a little bit of ass muscle in the coming month. Glutes! I should call them my glutes (gluteus maximus)  .

Squats, kick-backs, lunges, bridges, whatever will build my butt, I mean glutes.

I'm not planning on body building. I just want to develop some strength and be fit. I need to work on a little bit of arm strength and I would like to be able to do a couple of sets of 10 pull-ups. That may not sound like much, but a year ago I couldn't even do a single pull-up. Now I can do a couple sets of...well, 3. But that's a big step for an out of shape old man.

Arms. Back. And butt.

I'll need to figure out the what and when and try to plan it in accordance with my crazy ATC work schedule.
Some days, just finding the time to take a decent walk can be a challenge--especially when there is weather to deal with. Fortunately, I have the indoor cycle and Nordic Track for such occasions.
Also, I don't plan on abandoning the abs or push-ups as a regular part of exercise; I just need to give some added attention the arms, back and butt.

I'll let you know what I come up with...when I come up with it.

John <><

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What's next?

There are only 5 days left in the 30 Day Ab challenge (and 1 of them is a rest day) so I think I'll make it okay. I've got to admit that there have been a few days that I wonder about it and the big days are yet to come, but I think I can manage the last four workouts.

The question is: What do I do for next month?

I am going to come up with an ab routine that is a little more diverse than the four exercises in the 30 day challenge. It will not be as intense as the last week, but still a good workout for three or four days per week.

I've been keeping up with the walking, but really haven't done much in the way of running. I did find a site that talked about exercises to improve hip strength to reduce knee strain. I may give that a try. Of course, the real problem isn't the knees, anyway. The real problem is endurance. I can't run long enough to do much damage to my knees!

Yeah, yeah, I know I could build up the endurance, but I'm just not that motivated to run. I know there are some great benefits to running over walking, but again--not that motivated. I think I'll stick to the walking, biking and the stationary cycle--mostly because I know that I'll stick to the walking, the biking and the stationary cycle!

I have been doing some minor strength building exercises and want to amp that up a little bit--more push-ups, pull-ups, squats and something for the arms. I'm not interested in adding a lot of muscle for size and strength. I'm interested in adding muscle for the fact that it burns calories (even when you're not doing anything!) and it's good for more than just looks--it's healthy!

I've got a few days to figure out what I'm going to be doing. I like the idea of having a routine or planned program. It's a little bit easier for me to keep on track.

I'll try to post what I'm going to do; not because anybody else really cares, but because it helps me to stay the course.

My new mantra is "You can't out exercise a poor diet!"

Eat well.
Live well.

John <><

Monday, June 23, 2014

Breakfast smoothie

My breakfast smoothie for this meatless Monday:

1/2c dry oats
1/2c skim milk
1 apple (pink lady, today)
1c nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 scoop Body Fortress vanilla whey protein
a generous sprinkling of cinnamon
5 ice cubes

Mix in blender until... well, until smooth!

560 cal, 59g protein. 24oz of goodness!

John <><

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Losing Weight by Sleeping

It might come as a big surprise to some of you (it did to me) that sleeping is an important part of losing weight.

Alright, maybe it wasn't such a big surprise. I had read (many times) that some pretty important hormones are produced while we sleep. One of them is the hormone that signals your brain that you are getting full and it's time to stop eating. Apparently four and a half hours of sleep per night doesn't produce enough of that hormone because I never really felt full until I was way past the uncomfortable mark.

Your body also burns a surprising amount of calories in muscle and tissue repair and regeneration while we are sleeping.

One of the simple things that has helped me in losing weight over the past year was to purposefully increase the amount of sleep I was getting. I am now sleeping six hours per night on a pretty regular basis. Sometimes it's still less and sometimes it's around seven and a half hours (my sleep cycles are about ninety minutes).

I'd like to say that my CPAP machine helped in the better sleep mission, but it really didn't have a great impact on the way that I felt. It did help Chris to sleep better, though! I never really felt tired or extremely fatigued before the Obstructive Sleep Apnea diagnosis and I didn't feel a lot better after using the CPAP, either. The biggest change came when I decided to get more sleep!

I'm not a big fan of sleeping. I think it's a waste of time. I'd rather watch old movies or television shows (and I don't do very much of that) than just spend time sleeping. I don't mind a brief power nap, but that's different. My power naps are seventeen minutes long. I don't have to set an alarm. I just quickly doze off and wake up refreshed 17 minutes later. I feel very blessed to have this somewhat unique ability.

Once I came to the realization that there is an important purpose to getting enough sleep, it became easier to justify sleeping more. I don't know what your sleep habits are. And it's not really important to me. But it should be important to you if you are interested in good health.

So, work hard today...
...and sleep well tonight!

John <><

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Simple Steps

When I first began down this path to improve my health and drop some weight, I knew that I needed to do something sustainable. Over the years, I would guess that I've lost and regained hundreds of pounds! I didn't want a diet in the sense that I would stop whatever diet I was on when I reached my goal and once again regain my lost weight.

Over those same years, I have read a number of books on different diets and philosophies of weight management. I follow a number of healthy habit kind of blogs. And I would say that I have a better idea than most people about how different foods, activities, sleep (or lack of it), meds, etc., affect my body. It was time to put that knowledge to good use and lose some weight.

Recently, the receptionist at a doctor's office (she is trying to lose weight) asked me what motivated me to lose 60 pounds since my last annual physical. Thinking back, I guess it was a number of little things.

One thing was that I was struggling with my blood pressure. I noticed that 250 seemed to be the magic number. Above that weight and I would get occasional headaches. When I'd check my BP, it would be high enough that I'd really watch my fat and sodium for a few days and it would drop enough to make me comfortable again. Above 250 I would notice a little less energy. I wouldn't sleep as well. I seemed to be less comfortable--all of the time.
Although I was never tested, I figure I was probably pre-diabetic--or worse.

At almost 53 years old, it occurred to me that I was around the same age as my dad when he had his first heart attack.
...And I was heading down that same road!

Chris (my wife) had already started to lose weight by cutting out starchy carbs. That meant there wasn't any bread or pasta in the house and we limited our use of rice and potatoes. In addition to that, the two biggest little steps that I started on were to quit drinking diet sodas and start drinking more water and tea, and I stopped eating fast food.
No fast food breakfasts.
No fast food burgers.
No fast food fried chicken.
No fast food period.
Not even a fast food salad!

The only drive-thru that I regularly frequented was Starbucks...and I even stopped getting cream in my coffee--most of the time!

It was just those two things--water instead of diet sodas and no fast foods--that got me started.

My suggestion to you would be to do something similar. Pick one or two things that you CAN do and stick to it.

Cut out doughnuts or sweet snacks. Eat an apple instead of a candy bar. Go zero calorie on drinks for a day. Just pick a do-able small step and do it!

It's just one good habit replacing on bad habit. You've got this! What's it going to be?

John <><

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Getting Started

If you are a reader of one of my other blogs, welcome to Healthy Living!
If you just happened onto this blog randomly or from another link, I welcome you and invite you to check out my other posts at Out of My Hat.

I decided on a new blog so that I could post about my journey of weight loss (60 lbs so far) and exercise without wearing out my friends at Out of My Hat. I probably shouldn't mention that I also post occasionally at Amateur Cigar Smoker, but as this blog title says, I am your normal, unhealthy guy.

This introductory post won't have much in the way of content other than to say what I'd like to do with this blog.

I am looking to share my struggles and victories over food and weight.

I'd like to do the same with exercise, but will say from the start that I'm not a P90X guy or any kind of high intensity, fat burning, drop pounds quickly through exercise kind of guy. I believe in the philosophy of -- Eat for weight management. Exercise for good health. I know that there is a correlation between exercise and weight loss, but believe that 80% or more of your weight loss will happen in the kitchen, not the gym.

I want to share some of the small steps I've taken (it's taken me a year to lose the weight so far) and some of the recipes that I like.
And I'd like to hear some of your favorite healthy recipes.

I also want to encourage you to be healthier.

And I want to find out what is working for other people. We all have different starting points and different objectives; yet we share many of the diets, activities and methods for reaching those diverse goals.

Stay tuned for more.
Subscribe here, follow me on Twitter, or check back from time to time to see what's been posted.
And if you find anything helpful, share it with a friend.

The (formerly) Unhealthy Guy