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 <><