Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Finishing well for 2015

Sometimes it just takes the right moment, the right state of mind to get things back on track.
I'm there.

This has been a good week as far as getting my exercise time in. Yesterday I managed a brisk two-mile walk in light snow as well as a little bit of time with the dumbbells, some time on the indoor cycle and some really good stretching.

Today I dressed warmly and walked 3.7 miles in 28F (-2C) temps, did a short bit on the indoor cycle and some body weight exercises. I am noticing some shoulder pain and will have to find ways to work around it. I'm not really up for another shoulder surgery.

I'm back to logging my calorie intake and being more aware of spacing out some light exercise to keep the metabolism up. I do need to get my protein intake up and I am really watching the insulin triggering sugars. It's been a while since I've made protein smoothies a regular part of my diet. I've typically tried to be more natural by eating eggs, beans and meat. But in order to get my protein intake up to where I want it, I'm going to go back to at least one daily smoothie.
And I baked some protein cookies today.

I'm also back to drinking more water. I noticed that I really don't drink anywhere close to the amount of water I was drinking while working. I just need to make sure that I always have a glass or bottle handy.

There is no waiting until spring to get beach body ready. Cancun in less than 4 weeks!

Be well!

John <><

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Exercise: my new part-time job!

I've decided that the only way I'm really going to get into a regular habit of exercise (more than daily walking) is to schedule it as if it were a part-time job -- setting aside a couple of hours a day for exercise and walking.

I'm not too disciplined when it comes to getting after it in the morning, but that is where it is going to fit into my schedule. I think that revving the metabolism early in the day will pay daily benefits as well as long term health and weight benefits.

Five days per week -- here we go!


Monday, November 16, 2015

Challenging week ahead

This is going to be a challenging week when it comes to getting my daily steps and exercise. For the most part, an alternative to walking isn't a big deal. I have an indoor cycle, Nordic Track skier and a weigh machine. Getting in my 10,000 steps with a week of rain in the forecast may be a bit tougher.
Later in the week I have have some serious drive time to deal with. I planning on making the time for walking on those days, but it is still a challenge.

I'll definitely be keeping the walks close to home if I find some times when it is not raining. I don't want to be too far if the sky decides to open up and dump its water on me. I don't mind walking in the rain in the summertime, but November showers tend to be on the chilly side.

It has been raining through the night. Right now it is windy, but no rain. I should probably get out there but I'm still working on my first cup of coffee. I'm sure that I'll manage to keep my daily streak intact.
No excuses -- right?
I suppose that running instead of walking would shorten the time that I am out and limit the chances of getting caught in the rain. However, at my brisk walking speed and slow running speed the difference isn't great and I'm still comfortable with the idea of walking daily vs running irregularly.

Make your week a good one!
Be well,

John <><

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


We are one third of the way into November and I have been doing well when in comes to daily walking. It's not been anything to get excited about, but I'm back to walking every day and have made my 10,000 steps every day -- so far.

I do have a couple of all day travel days still to come this month but am hoping to manage a decent walk on those days as well.

I've been getting a little extra work in the way of squats, push ups and some light yoga, but again -- nothing to get excited about. At this point, I am comfortable calling my daily walk (usually about 3 miles) my regular exercise and anything else is something extra.

Perhaps I'll add to my regular exercise and include some yoga a few times per week. Then I'll consider walking and yoga to be my regular exercise and the body weight stuff to be extra.
I did manage a little running last week; maybe I'll do that on a more regular basis. Then again, maybe not.

In any case, my health is good. My weight is up a little, but not so much that I'm overly concerned. I would like to trim it back down before our January beach vacation, so I will be keeping an eye on it during the upcoming holidays.

Be healthy.
Be active.
Be well!

John <><

Sunday, November 1, 2015

No Excuse November

It is a foggy start to the month of November in the Ozarks, but the daytime highs will be back in the 70s for the beginning of the week. That will be nice after the cool temperatures to end the month of October.

I see that I haven't posted on my Healthy Living blog in well over a month. That is because of a relapse into the unhealthy guy part.

Actually, October wasn't a bad month -- irregular on the walking and not too concerned about a daily step goal, but it really wasn't too bad. I plan to look at November/December with a bit more attention to the details of day-to-day healthy living.

One of the things that I did in October was to work on flexibility. I'm going to continue with that and with simple body weight exercises. One thing that I've never been very good at is doing pull-ups. I'm going to be working on that in the coming weeks. I'm also going to be working on some handstand/headstand balancing. I'm not sure why I want to work on that, I just do.

And it's back to daily walks (maybe an occasional run) and a daily step goal of a modest 10,000 steps. No excuses!

Although my diet hasn't been crazy out of whack, I do know that keeping track of what I'm eating and drinking does help tremendously when it comes to controlling calories. So ... even though it is a real pain in the butt, I'm going to finish the year with the daily food log via My Fitness Pal.

On the positive side -- there is no Halloween candy left in the house and I won't be going to work this week to feast on the leftover candy that people would bring in and leave in the break room!

Be well.
Eat well.
Get some exercise!

John <><

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fast, Easy Dinner Recipe

I saw this recipe posted on Facebook the other day and decided to try it out.
It was easy to make and tasted delicious! I bought the pesto instead of making it (because making it would have made for more than the advertised four ingredients). I think that next time (and there will be a next time!) I will add some crushed red pepper for a little spicy heat.

I served it with a salad of baby spinach leaves, chopped apple, chopped walnuts, craisins and Panera's Fuji apple vinaigrette dressing. It was mighty tasty!

The unhealthy guy in me will probably try a variation using a ground beef and Italian sausage to make a patty. I'll probably pre-bake the patties for about 20 minutes before adding the other ingredients and finishing up per the chicken recipe. I'll serve 'em up on a bun for some awesome pizza burgers (adding a little pepperoni is also an option).

I suppose a more healthy person could use a veggie burger patty and make it a vegetarian pizza burger.

Let me know if you try this!

John <><

Thursday, September 17, 2015

One Step at a Time

It's been a good week on the health front.

In the year+ since I dropped all of that weight I managed to put a good deal of it back on. It didn't happen all at once, but as I became less watchful of my diet it slowly crept back up. Even though I did occasionally indulge in less healthy foods, I think I was mostly guilty of just over indulging. Too much of a good thing isn't good when it comes to overeating.

This week I've been paying close attention to my food amounts and have done well. I'm also getting back on the walking daily. I've managed my 10,000 steps 4 out of the last five days and plan to keep it up. I am still a believer in eating for weight management and exercising for good health. The goal is to be back under 200 pounds by 2016.

I threw together a very tasty salad to go with dinner last night -- baby spinach leaves, 1/2 a chopped apple, chopped walnuts, craisins and Panera's Fuji apple vinaigrette dressing. You should give it a try. It was delicious.

I've got another recipe I'm working on for a healthy snack. I'll post it as soon as I get it worked out. I've tried a few variations and think the next one will be my final one.

I plan on making some granola soon. I have a couple of recipes in mind. If you have a favorite that you use, please share it with me.

Be well,
John <><

Monday, September 14, 2015

Not Exactly a Grand Re-start

It's the first day back from vacation and it's been a month since I took a break from walking and running. I said that I would get back at it when we returned from Mexico but it wasn't anything in the way of a big start. I managed some walking and a little running while gone, but not much more. So now I'm back and ready to get started.

My activity today was 90 minutes of mowing and yard work, a couple of miles on the bicycle (to remind myself that the hills around here kill me) and an easy 1 mile after dinner stroll with Chris.
Like I said, no big deal.

I still have another hour or so left of yard work for tomorrow and an evening baseball game to watch so I'll get some stationary cycle time. I'm going to get a walk in tomorrow after my morning coffee and may try for a little road work cycling just to build up some strength and endurance.

Diet wise, today was a good day. I'm going to watch the intake a bit more closely for the coming weeks, both for quality and quantity. I'm going back to drinking more water. It is more difficult to keep to drinking water at home than when I was working. I generally had a couple of half liter bottles each work session. Now I just don't think about drinking water during the day and so I drink a lot less between meals.

My step counter is just a few steps short of 12,000 for the day. I'll go ahead and get that in but will be happy with a 10,000 daily step goal for a while.

It's hard to believe there are just over 100 days left in 2015.
Let's finish well!

Be well,
John <><

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Back on the fitness track...

So day one of the return to fitness was an easy day. I managed 45 minutes of light work on my Pro-Form XP indoor cycle while watching the St. Louis Cardinals make a comeback victory over the Nationals. I followed the ride with some light stretching and called it a day. I'll probably do more of the same tonight (makes me feel better about sitting and watching the game) along with some circuit training on the Weider weight machine and with some dumbbells.

Next week's workout will prove to be more of a challenge as we'll be travelling. I'm sure that I'll manage with walks, short runs, body weight exercises or something. Going to try to keep at it everyday with something--even if it's only a 30 minute walk.

Yesterday was a pretty good food day, as well. Diet shouldn't pose too much of a problem next week. Dietary discipline is easier for me than motivation for exercise.

Although I've never been one to exercise with a partner, it is nice to know what others are doing and to encourage each other through contact on social media fitness apps. I have a few friends on RunKeeper and am often encouraged (and amazed) by their steadfast running routines. I think that I'm the only walker in that small group so I am probably less of an inspiration to them than they are to me.
I spoke with a former co-worker yesterday that has started walking and taking the stairs at work. That's also a good motivator for me to get back to walking. I think I'll get out for a short walk today -- maybe just 2-3 miles.

I know I'm not going to be anybody's posterboy for fitness and health. I'm just trying to be a little better at living today than I was yesterday.

Be well,

John <><

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


It's September and I am happy to put August in the history file. I took the month off from walking and running to let my heel recover from a minor bruise of strain. I hadn't intended to be completely idle, but with very few exceptions, I was.

Back to tracking walks and runs on RunKeeper.
Back to tracking meals on MyFitnessPal.
Back to being health minded all of the time...
...even on our Mexican beach trip.

I haven't set daily step goals or walking/running distance goals because of the week+ long vacation, but I am planning on some daily fitness activity...beginning with today.
Life goes on.

John <><

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I've Changed My Mind ...

The reality of a journey that takes you from poor health to good health (or at least to better health) is that you have to change how you think about everything.

You can begin with a better diet, but real success is going to take much more than just a better diet.
True health and well being is an all encompassing attitude. If you are eating better but your life is filled with stress, you will still be exposed to the negative effects of the toxins produced by a stressed out person.

The body produces a steroid hormone called cortisol to help us deal with stressful situations. But when we're faced with a constant influx of this hormone, we end up causing our bodies a lot of negative side effects. Too much cortisol, too little sleep and little or no exercise will severely limit the effectiveness of healthy eating.

I found that I was allowing a lot more garbage into my mind than I was into my body. Not only was it necessary for me to stop eating so much junk, it was also necessary to avoid certain negative people, negative news casts, junk internet reading and Facebook posts and a host of other toxic material that was shaping my psyche. Just as cutting out the junk is a first step in changing your diet, cutting out the junk is also the first step in changing how you think and moving towards better mental health. The next step is finding good stuff to consume in place of the negative stuff.

A good food diet, an adequate amount of sleep, some physical activity and positive input all combine to bring about a healthier you.

So yes...
in order to be a healthier me, I've had to change my mind.
I've had to change my mind about a lot of things.

If you want to be a healthier you, perhaps the place to begin is to change your mind.
Healthy living is more than diet and exercise. It is an attitude; a way of life.

Be well,

John <><

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Off Track

I know that more disciplined people find ways to maintain their dietary restrictions through all types of events and obstacles. I'm not one of those people.
Oh, I have been and still can be, but I am not currently one of those people.

What that means is that I'm facing another weekend of indulgences. This weekend a family reunion. Last weekend a short getaway with Chris. The weekend before UFC Chicago and Cub baseball.

The truth is -- there is no way that a week of discipline can balance a weekend of indulgence. Add in my taking a break from walking or running and I've managed to gain about eight pounds in the past few weeks. So......

AFTER this weekend, it's back to seriousness. No more messing around (until someone says. "It's buck brat night at Hammond's field! Wanna go?").
Discipline at buck brat night is only getting two!

Temps are cooler. Heel is about the same, maybe a little better. We just purchased half a hog so we need to cook at home more. There is a great amount of fresh produce available from farmer's markets. Everything is in favor of eating well and exercising.

Not setting any goals for August has been a mistake. I'm going to finish the month with more dietary discipline and then hit September pretty hard. I'm even going to stick to a decent diet through our vacation.

It's too bad that I struggle with the whole healthy living thing. I know that for some it is just a way of life. For me, it's more like a dream. I really have to fight the urges to indulge (or to over-indulge). Eating has always been about pleasure; not about nutrition. That is such a tough thing to break away from. I know that eating for life and enjoying what foods you eat can be balanced. It's just a struggle for an old, fat guy.

And so the struggle continues...

John <><

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


I spent most of my adult life as a short sleeper (sleeping less than 6 hrs per night), usually sleeping 4.5 hours each night. Now I am getting 7.5 or more hours sleep. I am still a napper. My power naps are 17 minutes long and incredibly refreshing.

Since I have generally planned my sleep to wake up at the end of a sleep cycle (and now sleep until I wake up naturally), I don't have issues with sleep inertia (waking up feeling groggy). For the most part, when I get up -- I am awake.

For all of the study I did on how to get by effectively on little sleep, I missed out on the healthful benefits of getting adequate sleep. As a much younger man, I developed the philosophy that sleep was a waste of time. It became a philosophy I would live by for decades. I wondered at people that could sleep away those extra hours in the day. It's not like I was doing anything great with my extra hours -- read, watch TV, surf the net, etc. I just didn't want to spend it sleeping.

Looking back over the last six months, I'd have to say that getting adequate sleep is a good thing -- a really good thing. I know that many people are not always able to get 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, but you should get it as often as you can.

Today I would say that good sleep is as important as any aspect of good health. It is as important as a good diet. It is as important as exercise. Taking care to get good sleep should be a priority. If you are not sleeping well, figure out what you need to do to fix it. Cut the caffeine. Take a cool shower. Skip the evening alcohol and late night snacking. Get your exercise earlier in the day.
Continued insomnia is not normal and it is not healthy. Though I am not a fan of sleep aids, if you are not able to get a good night's sleep, see your doctor.

Do what ever it takes. Good sleep is way more important than you think it is. It's way more important than what I thought.

Sleep well.
Be well,

John <><

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Post #100: a simple summary

It's post number 100 at Healthy Living (by an unhealthy guy)!

I wish I had something really good to post but I'm not sure that anything posted by a struggling unhealthy guy would really be worthwhile. Since you are reading this, you are one of a very few that take the time to stop by and take a glance at the nonsense that I post.

The most difficult thing about trying to find good, healthy information on the internet is there is so much crap that you have to sift through. There are a lot of fad diets, fad workouts, bad science and outright lies when it comes to healthy living, weight management and fitness.

In my struggles to lose weight and get healthy I've pretty much stayed with the basics.

For diet I've tried to go easy on the fried foods and use coconut oil for frying at home. I've never been big on the sweet stuff, so sugar management hasn't been a big deal. I've made the move away from pre-packaged foods and try to eat more real food like vegetables, fruits, whole grains and meats. I eat cheese, butter and yogurt, but have pretty much quit drinking milk. I have increased my protein and think that protein is a good base for any diet goal.

Protein and carbs for bulking up.
Protein and fats for maintenance.
Protein and vegetables for losing weight.

My personal, uneducated observation is that most good, long-term diets are focused on insulin management. Keep an even and sustainable level of blood sugars that do not trigger an insulin dump and weight management is much easier.

I am follower of the "Eat for weight management. Exercise for good health," line of thinking. I don't think that everybody needs to be a runner or a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) kind of person. I'm a simple walker. Walking is pretty easy to do. Most of us are already experts at it. I walk pretty fast. You don't have to. I lift weight on occasion. Sometimes I do yoga.

I think it is important to realize that it is very possible (and often likely) to be thin and unhealthy.
There is a balance that must be met between diet and fitness. Most of us in the US are someplace between being inactive gluttons and overactive dieters. Some are too busy to eat well and others eat very healthy foods but get little activity. Once again, we need to find a balance.

I am not too strict when it comes to diet (Thank you, Mr. Obvious), nor am I an exercise or fitness freak. I'm just trying to stay active and eat well. What that has done for me is that I am now in the best health that I have been in for a number of decades.

Find a balance. Be a little bit better today than yesterday. Don't beat yourself up over a minor failure. Enjoy your indulgences and get back on track quickly. I believe that you can't out exercise a bad diet, but I also believe that you can help balance those occasional indulgences by remembering the balance.

Eat well.
Be well,

John <><

Saturday, August 1, 2015


It's hard to believe that August is here!
I've taken time off from the walking/running for a little while to see if my heel will heal. It does feel better but since I can't really quit walking, there is still some discomfort. I'm going to continue for a couple of more weeks and then reassess.

I did the necessary repairs to my recumbent stationary cycle and discovered that is a whole different workout. I need to keep this as a part of my routine even after I get back to walking and running.

I managed to talk Chris into a kayak outing. That was more fun than exercise but I don't have a problem with that at all. The only downside is that she would much rather be in a two-person kayak than in two kayaks. Before we invest that way, we'll see how often this will be a thing. I'm still considering the stand up paddle board. When I'm by myself, it's about the exercise not the scenery nor the serenity of being out in nature. I think the SUP will be a better workout.

I haven't given much thought to any monthly goals for August so I'll work on that this weekend. We're going to head east to Taum Sauk State Park and hike the trails. It's just going to be a day hike so no packs -- more like a walk than a hike.

Have a grand month!
Be well,

John <><

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Starbucks Start

I'm beginning this morning at one of the Springfield Starbucks.
I had to get up to take Chris to work this morning so swinging by for a morning Americano and spinach/feta/egg white wrap seemed like a grand way to start the day. Looking at the customers coming in today, I see a lot of pretty fit looking people. Maybe I should stop by for a little inspiration more often.

I'll sip my venti 5-shot Americano, browse the internet on my Chromebook, refill my cup with a free coffee and head home to a morning workout. It'll be circuit work on the Weider weight machine today. I also need to see just what I need to do to repair the seat back on my recumbent cycle. I may get out for an actual bike ride today, but geez, it is supposed to be another hot and humid day in the Ozarks!

I think that I'd like to work on some yoga for strength and balance in the coming weeks. I'll check for some online sessions. If you are aware of any, please send me a link.

I hope that you are planning a healthy activity for today.
A healthy activity + some good for you food + a good night's rest = a better you for tomorrow!

Be well!

John <><

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Chicago Food Binge

So it's been a tough week on the food front.

I've allowed myself to pretty much eat whatever I felt like while on my trip to Chicago for the UFC fights. I suppose I could have managed better by eating whatever in decent sized portions, but as you know, most places serve in semi-outlandish sized portions.

I may have to start this week with a modified fast to provide my system with a much needed detox/cleanse.
Or I can just go back to a better diet and let the body cleanse itself at a slow, steady rate. I'll figure that out as I make my way back home later today.

Since I'm taking a little time off from walking and running, this week will have me hitting the weights and the bicycle. I can tell you that the bicycle worries me. I'm not sure why the hills around our house bother me as much as they do, but they are killers for this old man! I'm sure that it would help if I wasn't so cheap and would spend the money on a decent bicycle, but I am cheap and figure that if I'm not racing, I may as well have to work for every mile. I mean -- exercise is why I'm doing it, right?

I also really need an exercise schedule. Time management for exercise is tougher for me as a retired guy than if I was working. There is no doubt that I have much more time, but that seems to be the problem. Putting things off is much easier. Then it isn't long until you don't have time. I need to convince my body that morning is a good time to get moving and it's okay to exercise before morning coffee or after only a cup. I can always do the relaxing cup (or pot) of coffee later.

I always feel better after a workout. It's getting to it that I need to feel better about.

It's just six weeks until beach week! Time to get serious!

Be well,
John <><

Monday, July 20, 2015

Re-assessment Time

I've been pushing my daily step total in spite of a nagging heel injury. I'm not certain if it's a bruised Achilles tendon or heel pain from the plantar tendon. I've changed my stride, added shoe inserts, done a number of things to bring relief and just endured the discomfort -- all for the sake of the goal!

It's time to stop.

I'm going to take it easy for a little while. I'll get my exercise in some other way. I know that I'll miss taking my walks (not so much the running part), but I think that it's necessary for a little while. I'll give it a couple of weeks, then reassess -- again.

I'll admit that part of me feels like a bit of a wienie for doing this. You know that voices that we all heard growing up -- "Shake it off," "Don't give up," "Work through it!" "No pain, no gain!"

I suppose that I can ignore those voices now that I have no one to impress, no team counting on my performance and no real ego to maintain. I can afford to listen to the sensible voice that says "Let the heel heal."

And so I will.

John <><

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Why I Run

I know that there are lots of people that like running.
I am not one of them.
I can't say that I hate running. I don't. But I definitely can't say that I like it either.

The only thing that running does for me is cover distance faster than walking.
And because I'm not a fast runner, it is not a great deal faster. If I am walking quickly, it takes me 15 to 16 minutes to cover a mile. Most days it's more like 17 to 18 minutes per mile.
If I am running, it takes me about ten minutes.

I know that there are heart and health benefits that I get from running over walking; those just aren't that important to me. Most days, I'm not even that concerned about getting my workout in more quickly because time has become less important to me in retired life.

I don't walk with anyone.
I don't run with anyone.
I don't stop to enjoy the view or worry about doing laps around the neighborhood or taking a longer circuit through town.
I just put in the steps and cover the miles.

I suppose that building speed and endurance will help me to run longer and finish more quickly. I am feeling better as I run and my endurance is improving. I can honestly say that I'm not doing much to work on increasing my speed. I don't plan on running any races so I don't really see the point. On most days, I am perfectly content to walk. For whatever reason, once in a while I decide to run.

Maybe I will get to the point that I like to run.
Maybe not.
But I will run.

Not fast.
Not far.
But, occasionally, I will run.

John <><

Monday, July 13, 2015

Way Behind at Mid-month

It is not quite the middle of the month and I find myself way behind in my monthly step goal. I'm going to need to up my daily average to 16,000 in order to make my 450,000 goal for the month.

Part of the problem has been a few days that I have been too busy to get many steps in. Another part has been letting the weather get in the way. We've gone from constant rain to blistering heat -- pretty typical for the Ozarks.

I need to get up and get out earlier, but I'm not too big on that whole get up and get going where exercise is concerned.
Go to bed earlier. Get up earlier. I could, but I probably won't.
I guess I'll just have to hydrate and sweat.

Better get moving!

John <><

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It's July!

Where did the first half of 2015 go?

It is already July.
And time to set some new goals for a new month.

June accomplishments were okay; nothing to brag about, just okay.
I managed to make my 400,000 step goal but had to smash my daily record by taking over 30,000 steps on the 30th to get it done!
I didn't do the inverse pyramid run that I mentioned as a goal but accomplished the miles by just doubling the distance and just stepping down -- running 2 miles, 1 1/2, 1, and 1/2 mile and walking 1/2 mile between.
Weight wise, I managed to lose a couple of pounds but am still well above the 200# mark. As I said, this isn't a great concern. I know that I am eating well (for the most part) and I am getting some exercise almost every day.

For July:

At one point I was entertaining the thought of 500,000 steps, but I think that is a little (or a lot) over ambitious. Since I do get the extra day, if I go for a 10% daily increase and add the day I'll end up at 450,000 steps for the month. There are some travel days and I'll have some more heat to contend with, but that's the goal -- 450,000 steps!

Where running is concerned, I would like to make a five mile run by the end of July. The actual run distance from my June goal was 5 miles with three breaks of 1/2 mile walks. I just need to work to cut out the walking breaks. Again, speed isn't much of a concern.

I am going to work more on strength conditioning over the next few weeks and I would like to "look" better by our beach vacation in September. I am not at all interested in bulking up, I just want a lean, fit, healthy look. I am going to make daily (or nearly daily) yoga a part of that as well.

On the diet front...
I think that we need to eat out less and enjoy the fresh seasonal produce by preparing meals at home. Last night we had steak fajitas with fresh green, orange and red bell peppers, onions and seasonings and served will well seasoned pinto beans. It was relatively simple and quick to fix, tasted great and was an easy clean up, as well.
We need to do more of that.

So there it is:
450,000 steps
5 mile run
Strength conditioning
Daily yoga
Healthy eating at home

Set your goals.
Make a plan.
Achieve your goals.

Be well,
John <><

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Here's to Good Health!

I was telling some people at a church I visited last weekend that I had recently retired. An older woman asked, "How's your health?"

I've got to tell you that it felt pretty good to say that it is the best it has been in decades!

Truthfully, I'm 55 and the signs of living an unhealthy lifestyle for so many years are still evident. I have a bad knee and my feet sometimes hurt from walking or running. I have this loose skin around my middle from being overweight and will probably never be able to display the much coveted six pack or washboard abs. My hair is thinning and grey and I have the facial wrinkles of age and recent weight loss. My arms are relatively thin (always have been), and my hands sometimes hurt from a little arthritis.

I'm under no delusions of ever being a prime physical specimen of the adult human male, but I am happy and healthy and I enjoy my daily walks and simple exercise.

Yes, I still indulge in some junk foods but tend to do so less often and in smaller portions. I still make excuses about going for a walk -- It's too hot. It's too humid. It's raining. -- but usually manage a short walk or other form of exercise. When it comes right down to it, I'm generally pretty lazy and often do the bare minimum to maintain an appearance of living a healthy lifestyle.

I am realizing that you don't have to be an athlete or even athletic to have good health. Make a small series of simple choices and you are soon on your way to better health.

Cut out sodas -- even diet soda. Drink water or tea.
Eat fruits or vegetables for snacks.
Try to avoid boxed or prepackaged foods.
Eat less fried food, especially food fried in vegetable oil.
Begin each day with a glass of water and a healthy breakfast that includes some protein.

Five simple steps.
Here's to good health!
Here's to your good health!

Be well,
John <><

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Diet vs Exercise

Diet for weight loss.
Exercise for fitness.

Lately I've been reading more and more about exercise for weight loss. I'm am certain that exercise burns more calories than not exercising, but the way to manage weight is by what (and when) you eat. There is a lot of truth to the saying that you can't out exercise a bad diet.

I do want to be clear that I am no longer a fan of dieting as in a short term change for the purpose of weight loss. Your diet is simply what you eat and how you live. I have "dieted" in the past and I have lost lots of weight on diets. Changing my diet, rather than dieting was the real key to steady weight loss and to maintaining my weight.

It is important that you know that I am also a fan of exercise. My exercise program began simply by walking. Walking is a grand exercise. It requires little in the way of specialty equipment and most of us are already expert walkers. You just have to do it. My walking has increased in distance and pace over time, but walking is still my primary form of exercise.

I have added yoga, running, occasional weight lifting, some regular body weight exercises and a rare metabolism boosting HIIT workout to my exercising.
Exercise is good for me.
And it's good for you, too.

The other sayings often repeated are:
Diet to look good in street clothes.
Exercise to look good at the beach!
or (for the younger crowd)
Diet to look good dressed.
Exercise to look good naked.

If your goal is to get your weight under control, manage your diet!
Quit eating so much crap!
Eat real food!
Eat fruits and vegetables.
Get plenty of good protein.
Drink water.
Sleep well.

Diet for weight loss.
Exercise for fitness.

John <><

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Weight Redistribution

About this time last year I went through my closet and found a bunch of clothes that fit me that I hadn't been able to wear for quite some time. There were still a few things that I couldn't wear. Among those things there were two pair of pants that still had the tags -- brand new dress slacks that I had purchased thinking I would lose a few pounds and then be able to wear them.

Unfortunately, instead of losing weight, I gained it and never wore the slacks. Even last year when I was at a weight a few pounds less than today, they wouldn't fit. This morning I decided to try a pair on and ...

I guess that means that my weight is shifting away from my waist and hips and that is a good thing! I really want to continue to work on my health and fitness level. I mentioned in a recent post that I was going to be less concerned with the weight and more concerned with how I look and feel.
Today, I feel great!

John <><

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Apparently I managed to bruise my heel yesterday. It is very tender today so a fun is out. I haven't decided about a walk. Although I'm pretty certain that I could manage the walk okay, I'm more concerned about letting it heal. I guess I really don't know what that will take and I don't want to be off for too many days from walking or running. I guess bicycling is an alternative that would be easy on the heel (but tougher on the knees).


I'll figure something out, I'm sure.

John <><

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mid-June Assessment

We are at the halfway point for the month and time to make a quick assessment of my June goals.

I am on track to make my 400,000 steps (barely) and thinking about setting a goal of 500,000 for July.
I have upped my running activity, but still struggle with the motivation to actually get out there and run. For now, twice a week is enough to satisfy me but probably not enough to meet my inverse pyramid goal. We'll see.

I have yet to work on the strength training or HIIT exercises. Again, motivation is the problem. I suppose that some sort of workout buddy or accountability partner would help, but I don't want to be on someone else's schedule and I prefer to walk/run/exercise on my own. I get a bunch of motivational tweets in my Twitter feed but haven't done more than the walk/run stuff.

I will say that the few friends I have on RunKeeper are inspiring. It is beneficial to see their regular activity and more motivational than random memes from people I don't really know.

Food wise I've done well and managed to drop a couple of more pounds. Again, I'm less concerned with the weight and more concerned about how I look and feel.

All-in-all, it has been a decent, stress free month. I'll work on the self-motivation thing and start by planning a HIIT session for tomorrow morning.

20 jumping jacks
10 burpees
20 crunches
20 mountain climbers
30 second wall sit
30 second plank


I'll let you know how it goes.

John <><

Friday, June 12, 2015

Protein Powered Weight Loss

A while back a friend of mine mentioned that she best maintained her ideal weight when she kept a diet that included 100 grams of protein per day. I thought that to be a little high given her petite frame. However, I have increased my protein to more than 150 grams per day and it has really helped in energy, stamina and weight loss.

Increasing my protein has decreased my carbohydrate intake (which is good) and also tends to increase my fat intake a small amount, but not enough to bother me. Most of my carbs come from fruits and vegetables. I do eat some grains, but try to keep them to a minimum and eat whole grains when I can.

Although we still eat out quite frequently, managing to eat healthy isn't as difficult as you might think. It just requires a little planning and discipline. Portion control is the biggest challenge when eating out. Even healthy foods in too large portions can ruin your calorie intake for the day. I heard an ad today for Red Robin's Double Tavern burger with unlimited fries. (Okay, that's not a healthy food, but I'm looking portions right now.) Even without a second helping of fries, this little burger and fries is more than half of my daily calories and more than my daily fat allotment.

The internet and a few simple apps on your smart phone can be used to your advantage when dining out. Most chains have nutrition information available and other foods can be easily estimated.

Keeping my protein intake up has helped me. Maybe it will help you, too.

Be well,
John <><

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Keeping Active

It is another beautiful day in the Ozarks and will break the 90 degree mark for this June day!
Summer is (nearly) upon us!

I'm taking the day off from running but will continue with a nice walk this morning. Most of my activity today will consist of taking care of the lawn -- mowing, weed eating and spraying, etc.
I'm finding that not everything has to be about exercise. It works well just to be more active.

Some added activity takes more work and effort; like walking to the store instead of driving. Some doesn't take as much; like parking near the farthest cart return rack and taking the extra steps to and from the store.
Being more active does take a conscious effort. It is becoming more of a way of life, but I still need to think about it most of the time.

Be active today.
Move a little more than yesterday.
Walk. Stretch. Do.

Be well,
John <><

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Variety is the Spice of Life

I imagine that variety is also good for fitness.
I guess I've kind of gotten into a fitness rut and have gone back to just walking (which I like) and an occasional run.

I really need to include some kind of strength training in my weekly routine. I like using my weight machine for circuit training and am okay with HIIT using just body weight exercises. (Okay, actually I think that HIIT sucks. I need to do it, but it is killer for me!)
I also see some great benefits from yoga but it has been a little while since I've really done anything more than some simple stretching.

All on all, I feel pretty good about staying active and am in better shape than I have been in for quite some time. My blood pressure is at a healthy level (122/78 yesterday at the Red Cross) and my resting heart rate is decent at 58. My weight is staying below the 210 mark and I'd like to get it to around 200. However, I am less concerned with the actual number at this point, and more concerned about feeling (and being) healthy.

Yeah, I'd also like to look good, but it feels a little bit vain to actually say it. Besides, there is only so much a soon to be 55 year old can do to look great. Time and poor life habits have taken their toll on this old guy.

If I could reach back and talk to my younger self, I would tell him to take better care of himself (myself). Even if I wasn't going to exercise, there was really no excuse for the poor diet and over indulgence in crappy foods. Even over indulgence in good foods had been a detrimental part of my eating habits.

If you are young, take care of yourself. If you are older, take simple steps to reverse your situation. If it took years (decades in my case) to get to where you are, don't expect to quickly change. It may take years to get healthy again -- but get started TODAY!
Don't wait for next month or next Monday or tomorrow. Start NOW.

Get up and take a walk. Pass on dessert. Skip the late night snack.
Drink more water. Park farther away. Take the stairs.

Be well,
John <><

Sunday, May 31, 2015

May summary, June goals

I have to say I'm a little disappointed in my May. Although I easily managed to reach my step goal of 400,000 steps and I feel pretty good, my weight has remained steady at around 208-209 pounds. I've been keeping a pretty good watch on my calories but think that I may need to adjust my carb calories down a bit while boosting the protein and fat calories.

I set personal bests for walking in May and continued to work on a little running. I want to continue to run and will include that in my June goals. I'm also getting started a little earlier in the day and will continue to trend that way as the days continue to get warmer.

For June:
I'll continue with the step goal of 400,000 steps for the 30 day month.

I want complete an inverse pyramid interval run of 1 mile, 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 1 mile with 1/4 mile walks between.

I plan to add some HIIT sessions 2 or three times per week. I haven't figured out exactly what they will look like, but want to get serious about adding something significant to my fitness routine.

While I'd like to end June below the 200 pound mark, I'll be pleased to meet my other goals, do well on what I eat and end up at anything less than I am now. I really don't want to obsess over the weight as much as I want to be healthy.

It's almost most summer.
They say you eat well to look good in street clothes and exercise to look good in swimwear.
How will you look at the pool, lake or beach this summer?

Be well,
John <><

Monday, May 18, 2015

May Goals; mid-month assessment

I'm feeling pretty good about May health goals.

My S-health app went through some updates that I don't really care for in the way that it keeps track of my daily steps, but that's okay. I'm still doing very well and will be far ahead of what I set as a monthly goal.

I haven't been very good about getting that early start in the day and that may have to change as the weather gets warmer. It may just come down to choosing which I like less--walking early or sweating a little more. Chances are I'll choose to sweat and rehydrate.

Last week, I finally got around to using the weight machine during a Cardinal game. I plan on that again during tonight's game. It actually felt pretty good and really boosted the metabolism and calorie burn for the day. On the downside, it is in the evening and I'm not sure that's the best time for boosting the metabolic rate. Seems like that would be more advantageous earlier in the day.

I've been paying closer attention to my food intake and that has been paying off quite nicely. I've increased the amount of protein in my diet and that seems to really help with the weight loss. My weight is back to where it was at this time last year and I aim to get back to my mid June weight by mid June!
I'll have to keep it up to get my weight down to around 190. I'd like to be in a maintenance state by the time we gather for our family reunion in mid August.

All-in-all, life is good!

Be well,
John <><

Friday, May 15, 2015

It's About ... Time!

For today's Healthy Living post, head over to my other blog, Out of My Hat.

Be well,
John <><

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Making exercise a priority

I was dressed and ready for my morning walk. The plan was to walk the 1.5+ miles to a little coffee shop on the square in Ozark, enjoy an Americano and walk home.
But it's raining.

I decided to join the old people at the mall. Actually, I'm surprised at the number of not so old people walking in the mall. It's not a bad place. It's dry, cool in the warm weather and warm in the cold weather. And there is a Starbucks.

RunKeeper coverage isn't so great so I'm targeting a specific number of steps even though RunKeeper is tracking.

I'm  thinking that I probably won't do this often, but it's nice to have the option for a no excuses kind of day.

Be well,
John <><

Friday, May 1, 2015

May Goals

It's May!
And that means it's time to set some new goals.

For this month I've upped my daily step goal from 11,000 to 12,900. I managed to make my daily goal every day in April but am not going to obsess about it in May. The main thing will be to average 12,900 which will give me 400,000 steps for the month.

I managed to run nearly 12 miles in April and doubt that I'll do much more for May. Once or twice a week is enough for this old guy.

I do need to do some more strength training. I should work on that during the Cardinal baseball games that I watch since I have a fine view of the TV from the weight machine.

Food wise I've done well and managed to shed 8 of those regained pounds. I have more to go and will continue to keep an eye on everything I consume--not in a crazy restrictive way, just in an awareness way.

I'm trying something different today. I'm a slow starter in the morning and it is usually late morning before I get around to going out for my walk. Today I got up with Chris and rode with her to her daily soda stop. I walked across the street to the Ozark Starbucks and am blogging from there while enjoying my venti 5-shot Americano.
After a refill cup of coffee and a stop at the bathroom, I'll set off on the 6 mile walk home.

It's a little cool this morning but I'm thinking this might be a good plan as the days get warmer. In any case, it will get my May off to a fine start!

Set your goals.
Work to achieve them.
Be well,

John <><

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April Goals Report and Looking Towards May

It is almost the end of April and time to assess how I did on my monthly goals.

I added 1,000 steps to my daily goal at the beginning of the month and have made it every day so far. My daily average is around 12,300. I think that for May I'll set a monthly goal and give myself a break on the the days when my step count might be a little low.

400,000 steps for a monthly goal would be a daily average of 12,904 and might be a little ambitious. I'm going to count on some nice weather and a little more running (and maybe an earlier start each day) and go for it. I know that there will be light days with activities that make stepping out difficult. We shall see...

I did a little bit of running and I won't say it felt good, but it didn't feel bad. I only managed one short bicycle ride.

Weight is down a few pounds -- 6 pounds so far. I was hoping for more but slow and steady works.

Overall health is good.
I'm happy with that.

I've still got a couple of days to work out all of my May goals. I'm thinking about a more defined program of running and exercise and maybe a little more restrictive diet. I let you know in a couple of days.

John <><

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sporting Spectator vs Participant

It's baseball season and that tends to take up a few hours everyday as I really enjoy watching the St. Louis Cardinals play ball. Last year I started cycling on my indoor cycle while watching the game or listening to the game on the radio while doing something else. It's one way to stay fit since I no longer participate in any sports.

This year I'll try to continue with that practice and can add working with my weight machine to the game watching exercises since it is now in the basement man cave, as well.

Today is extra challenging since the Cardinals have a day game and the Blues skate tonight. I'm meeting with a former co-worker at Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the hockey game. He happens to be a fan of the bad team -- the Wild.

I'll finish my morning walk (I'm taking a coffee break at a local shop at the 2.35 mile point) in a little bit and in plenty of time to watch the Cardinals. I'm thinking it will be weight work this afternoon.

Then early dinner with Chris (brats and burgers) and off to the late hockey game.

This retired life is wearing me out!

Make the time.
Be fit.
Be well,

John <><

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Morning Coffee

I'm not one of those get up and get my morning workout in kind of guys. I like to enjoy a few cups of coffee and read or write a little bit before doing anything physically stressful.

This morning it's raining out so it works in my favor as I wait for the rain to stop before going out for a walk or run.

For a little change in my morning routine I decided to go out for coffee. I had enough left on a Starbucks gift card from a Canadian friend for another Americano so I decided to treat myself.

Sitting in the Starbucks on the north side of Ozark and checking Google Maps shows that it's 6.9 miles to my house. I'm thinking that if I get up with Chris on one of her work days, she could drop me off here for my morning coffee and then I could make my way home in alternating walk/run fashion.

It's quite a bit more than my normal walk/run distance so I may have to build up to it but it's a doable thing and would probably get my day started a little bit earlier.

Something to consider.

Be well,

John <><

Monday, April 13, 2015

Healthy living update

Last week was a great week as far as walking goes. I set a new daily step record on Tuesday (19K+) and a high count for the week at over 91,000 steps.

I did a little running and think that will be the trend. One or two days per week of running of some sort. Last week it was 1 mile runs and walk. Today it was half mile intervals with a little faster pace. I have yet to get on the outdoor bicycle. I'll get some time on the indoor cycle as I pedal while watching baseball during the summer.

Lots of rain in the forecast for this week. I'll have to see how heavy the rain will be or make some other arrangements to get my steps in. I'm just going to try to keep moving.

Be well,

John <><

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Dropping Weight ... s l o w l y.

After getting back to steady walking and light exercise for a couple of weeks, the (regained) weight of the winter months is finally starting to melt away. Diet wise, I am also doing better. I never really went back to poor food choices, I was just eating more than I needed to be eating.

To help keep track of how much I'm actually eating, I've gone back to logging all of my intake on My Fitness Pal. It's a handy little app that can track your meals and snacks and will link to most other fitness apps or wearable devices. My Run Keeper miles and calories automatically sync to my My Fitness Pal app. It's pretty handy for keeping track of diet and exercise.

I know there are other apps that can do the same thing or devices that can do it all, but these are the ones that I started with and it is just easier for me to keep up with it. Besides, I really like the data base for foods on My Fitness Pal. It seems to be the best of the other apps that I've tried or looked into.

I'm always a little concerned about diet and exercise on the road. The benefit of walking is that you only need a decent pair of shoes and can walk pretty much anywhere. Diet can be a little trickier. It's easier if I'm eating alone than if I go out with others. On my own I've often just gone to the deli counter for some sliced turkey and picked up some fruit or yogurt to take back to my hotel room. Going out to restaurants with others isn't too bad, but going to someone's house or eating at a church meal  can be tough.

In any case, now that the weight has starting coming off, I plan to keep at it. I've learned that I'm going to always have to monitor my intake in some fashion or risk putting it back on. I don't want that to happen again. I'm working on the philosophy of "I'm not losing weight. I'm getting rid of it. I have no intention of finding it again!"

Be well,
John <><

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Last week I made an attempt at getting back into running. It's an idea that I've been toying with for some time. I made a start at it last year but was having some foot issues that needed a surgical correction. Although I am not real pleased with the results of the surgery, it did help some and I should be able to run now.

Still, I have put off running. Poor knees, poor condition and lack of real will have all had their part in not running. Enough is enough.

Last week I managed a sequence of walk/run intervals of half miles for four miles and ended with a half mile walk -- two miles of running, two and a half walking. Yesterday I upped the interval to one mile intervals and started with the run for a run/walk/run/walk four mile total. I felt better than I expected. My times were about what I expected with the first mile run at just under eleven minutes and the second one at a little over.

I'm still not convinced that running is going to get into my system in a way that I'll be doing it on a regular basis, but I did feel pretty good the rest of the day. It was that "I had a good workout" tired kind of feeling that makes you feel good about yourself and your day. I finished the day with some good stretching while watching the NCAA basketball final.

Today, I think I'll start out with a little run. I don't know that I'll set a goal distance. Maybe I'll just start running and see how it goes. I know that's not the way to go about building endurance or increasing time but those things aren't really that important to me. I'll just see how I feel at a mile and either go a little longer or stop and walk for a little while. I may or may not run again. We'll see.

It's not goal motivated or anything and it may not work in making a habit of running. For now, that's okay. Right now I'm just interested in getting the miles in (walking or running) and making my daily step goal. I don't plan to run a 5K or anything like that. I'm just trying to maintain a level of fitness that is more healthy than what I've done in the past.

Be healthy.
Be well,

John <><

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Goals

March turned out to be a pretty good month for getting back on track. Now we are on to April!

I certainly plan to keep up with the daily walking. I managed a nice walk on most days in March and averaged over 10,000 steps per day in spite of missing the mark on 10 days.

I've decided that I'll work on a little running, but don't plan on making it a priority. In spite of the additional benefits; it's just not that important to me. I'll take in on a daily basis.

I am going to work on getting a bicycle ride in at least once a week and start back to working on some weight work, probably in a circuit training routine rather than strength training. I'll be adding these to my walking a little at a time. I do expect some challenges as I'll be away from home and out of routine several days in April. I guess I'll be counting on walking and body weight exercises on those days.

I've been better about watching the food intake and am looking forward to the fresh fruits and vegetables of spring and summer. I just need to be a little bit more diligent about the daily intake. I would like to go into May back around the 200 pound mark.

Set your April goals now!
Here we go!

Be well,

John <><

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Weekend Indulgence

Yep. It's going to be a weekend of indulgence. While I'll try not to over do it, I'm not going to obsess about it either.

I love getting to see my kids and that will be the focus.

On the other hand, my daughter-in-law has invited me to join her in her weekend workouts.

it couldn't hurt, right?
Actually, it could kill me! She's young (mid 20s), fit and works out daily (P90X).
I'm mid 50s and walk.

Maybe I'll just go for a walk.

Be well,
John <><

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Making Adjustments

Okay, so my brother suggested that I might be a little ambitious with stepping up my running as much as I planned on this week, He might be right.

The daily 10,000 steps won't be a problem (except for the stormy day in the forecast). I've kept up with the squats and push ups, but not the ab work. I still haven't worked into a workout pattern other than getting out to walk (and now sometimes, walk/run) every day.

After yesterday's walk/run (alternating half miles, beginning and ending with walks), I am feeling the effects of being old(er) and out of shape. Actually, it didn't feel too bad during the runs, and I felt pretty good yesterday night (you know, that good kind of tired), but the legs and feet are sore today. So it will be an easy slow walk today and maybe I'll rethink the total running distance for this week and work my up more slowly. I was really expecting more difficulty from cardio conditioning than from muscle/joint soreness.

Yeah, this aging thing has its drawbacks.

Enough moaning! Back to it (with some small adjustments due to not being as young as I used to be)!

Be well,

John <><

Saturday, March 21, 2015

From the Last Week of Winter to the First week of Spring!

Today I am looking forward to wrapping up my week of 80,000 steps. I start the day at a little over 74K, so today will be a breeze. I'll go ahead and make sure that I get in 10K steps just to keep that streak going, but I am starting to look at fitness goals for next week.

Yesterday I did a little running to go with my walking and think that I will include a small amount of running in my goal for next week. I also want to include some simple bodyweight stuff into my routine for next week.

Here's what I'm thinking:

* Continue with at least 10,000 steps per day
* Run 7 miles (I don't plan on running everyday. I'm thinking 1.5 every other day, + a mile somewhere during the week)
* 400 push ups (75, 50, 75, 0, 75, 50, 75)
* 20 walking lunges (10 each leg) every half mile while walking on non-running days.
* 700 squats (I haven't decided how I'll do that yet, maybe 100 X 7 or maybe work a rest day or maybe go heavier on walk days, lighter on run days. We'll see)
* 600 crunches (100/day with a 0 day in the middle)
* 12 1 minute planks

For a 50+ yr old, out of shape guy that hasn't been doing much of anything it looks like a lot when you read it all together. For anyone that is in even modest shape or works our regularly, it's pretty light.

For me, it's more than I have been doing and yet it is still pretty doable. The running still gets counted in with the daily step count as do the walking lunges. Those add a little variety to the steps and work the cardio and legs differently. The push ups, squats and abs are not a big deal, just a way to make sure I'm doing something for a little strength along with the walking.

At some point, I'll probably take a short bicycle ride.

That's the fitness plan for the week.
I know that if I don't spell it out, it won't happen.
Do you have a plan?

Be well,
John <><

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Weekly Goals (update)

It's a good thing that I took advantage of the nice days early in the week to get a great start on my 80,000 step goal. Tomorrow is supposed to be another rainy day and I think it may be more than the light rain we've had all day today.

I did manage to get in a three mile walk today, in spite of the light rain and cool temperature. I should end the day with more than 10K steps but will need to work at it a little bit. With nice days in the forecast for Friday and Saturday, the 80K step goal shouldn't be a problem, but I would also like to be at 10K steps for every day this week. I might be walking in a heavier rain tomorrow or hitting the mall and joining the other mall walkers. I'm going to try to make that a last option kind of thing.

By the way, I use an app on my phone as my pedometer. It's a Samsung app called S Health. It has other features but the only ones I use are the pedometer and heart-rate features. I'm too cheap to buy a fitbit or other wearable device. While health has become more important to me, spending money to keep track of what I'm doing hasn't. The free apps are more my style!

Be well,

John <><

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Weekly Goals for the Last Week of Winter!

It is supposed to be a beautiful week in the Ozarks!

There is a little rain in the forecast, but that is to be expected for this time of year in the Ozarks of Southwest Missouri. However, it appears that most days will very nice for the last week of winter.

I am going to set a one week goal of 80,000 steps. That pushes my daily count up a little bit from the current 10,000 steps and will require me to be after it every day this week. I have yet to decide if that will include any running. The biggest benefit I see from running is the amount of time it saves! Of course, I know that there are other, more healthful benefits associated with running, but the biggie for me is the time.  

I doubt that I'll be able to enjoy a cigar on a three mile run like I do on my daily walks!
I doubt if I'll enjoy much of anything (except maybe finishing) on a three mile run!

Honestly, if there is any running this week, it will most likely be run a little, walk a little.

Well I'd better get going for today. It's early afternoon and I've fewer than 2,000 steps on the counter.

Be well,
John <><

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Losing Weight

There are some really crazy ways to lose weight!

...And I'm not even talking about the fad diets and body cleanse kind of crazy.
I'm just talking about real ways to lose weight that seem counter intuitive to our way of thinking about weight loss.

For example:

Eat a good breakfast.
One might think that skipping breakfast and starting the day with fewer calories would be the way to lose a little more weight, but that's wrong. Getting the metabolism started with a good breakfast is far better than no breakfast.

Eat good fat.
One of the myths of dieting is that fat in turns to fat on. We need good fats in order to function properly and the lie of previous century was that cutting out all fats will make you healthier. There is no doubt that fats pack in the calories; so be careful. Get good fats from nuts, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, etc. You need fat for energy and to lose weight!

Eat more often.
That's right! Instead of skipping the mid-morning or late afternoon snack; go ahead and eat something. Skip the sugary, insulin producing crap and have a hand full of nuts (good fat) or piece of fruit. Protein bars (read ingredients) can be a good choice but many are filled with sugar, too. Spreading your daily calories out to three smaller meals and two or three snacks can  help you to lose weight faster than packing your calories into just three meals and no snacks.

Get some sleep!
This was the biggest for me. It seems that you would be better off to be active more and sleep less for weight loss. I spent most of my life on far less than six hours of sleep per night. But your body needs that time to produce the necessary chemicals and hormones to function properly and to metabolize fuel (calories) properly. I now feel very good at about 7 1/2 hours per night and wake up (without an alarm) feeling very well rested.

If I was to give you my top four tips for weight loss, these would be the ones I'd give:
Start the day eating.
Eat some good fat.
Eat more often.

I'll add a freebie... drink plenty of water!
Your body needs it and we often eat when we are thirsty, not hungry.

Be well!
John <><

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Making Adjustments

I hate it when minor injuries get in the way of your regular exercise routine.

Now in my sixth decade of life (54), I've found that working through an injury or toughing it out is no way for me to be. However, I don't want a minor thing to derail my steady progress so I'll have to adapt and come up with something else for a few days.

It seems that I've managed to develop a heel bruise on my right foot. I'm not sure when that happened but will assume that it has something to do with my new shoes. I may have to switch over to bicycling for the next few days instead of walking. Fortunately, the weather is supposed to be very nice. I may try walking on softer ground (the park or nature center) instead of road walking. We'll see.

The main thing is to keep moving.

I recently spoke with a weight lifter whose friend is having shoulder surgery and is not looking forward to the idle time necessary for recovery. While working with that arm might be off limits for a few months, it doesn't mean that he has to remain idle. He'll just have to adapt his workouts to account for his shoulder.

Keep moving.
Do something.
If that doesn't work, do something else.
Keep moving.

Be well,
John <><

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Great Outdoors!

I am really looking forward to spring!

One of the things that I have allowed to get in the way of fitness this winter has been the weather. You would think that the time off work would have given me a significant advantage when it comes to getting exercise...and it has. I just have failed to take advantage of it.

No More!

This past week, in spite of the cold, I managed to get out and walk. I am going to keep that up. A new pair of shoes is on my list of things to purchase. I am also going to start taking advantage of the nicer weather and a backyard patio to get some of my exercise outside. Since I've been primarily doing body weight exercises, this should work out well.

And I have a garden to put in this year.

This will provide for some outdoor activity as well as some good, healthy food for the table! We still haven't decided what to plant (or how much), but I am looking forward to it.

Maybe I'll take up a little fishing this year. It has been a long time since I've been fishing. It might be a fun way to spend a day and a cool thing to provide everything on the dinner table some night.

In any case, I am looking forward to the mental benefits and physical benefits of being out in the sun. Even sitting outside (in the sun or in the shade) to read a book is better than being inside reading. Obviously, this sunny day (even with snow still on the ground) has me longing for summer!

Get outside.
Be well,

John <><

Monday, March 2, 2015

Bonus day!

Looks like we get a nice weather break today!
Forecast in the Ozarks is for a sunny day with temps around 40F  (4.5C). The earlier forecast for rain gets pushed back until tomorrow and then we're back to snow on Wednesday! March in the Ozarks!

In any case, I'm going to get in a little workout this morning and then plan on a long walk this afternoon. My foot has still been bothering me a bit so I'll stick to walking vs running, although I would like to eventually do a little running. Oddly enough, yoga (which I haven't been doing) seems to help the bones in my foot feel better! I'm not sure how that works, but it does.

March is going to have to be a much more focused month when it comes to diet and exercise. Back to eating less and exercising more. Being home is terrible for the diet. Even eating good snacks too often is a bad deal! Maybe I need to make the kitchen a NO GO ZONE during the day.

Time to get moving and amp up the metabolism for the day.

Be well,
John <><

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Something new for dinner!

Last week I posted a link to a breakfast recipe that was pretty good.

Tonight I used that same recipe to go with our dinner.

I started with sliced turkey kielbasa that I fried in a cast iron skillet with a little coconut oil. While that was cooking I diced the apples and measured out the quinoa (I mixed red and white). I placed the sausage on a plate and rinsed the skillet. Then I added the apples, cinnamon, water and quinoa and cooked it covered on low for about 20 minutes. I decided to prepare it on the stove instead of in the oven. As an afterthought, I chopped up a couple of jalapeno peppers and added them to the apple mix.

While that was cooking, I prepared the walnuts (instead of pecans) with cinnamon and honey (instead of maple syrup).

When the apple/quinoa mix was done, I added the sausage and turned the heat up. I stirred it and added the walnut mixture.

It turned out very well!

I think the apple quinoa bake would make a good side dish for smoked pork or grilled pork chops, too.

Let me know if you try this.

John <><

In Like a Lion...

It is March!
The sun is making its way back towards the northern hemisphere.
Spring is just around the corner.
Life is good.

In February, I managed to stop the slow weight climb and am back on a downward trend. I am looking forward to being outside more as the weather warms up. Today is supposed to be above freezing but I'm guessing that the snow cover and clouds will keep the temps below the forecasts.

I'll probably get out and shovel the driveway today, although it seems a little silly. Warmer temps and rain in the coming days will take care of it naturally if I decide to wait. It will be a decent little workout and I want to get out and get a walk anyway, so...it will probably happen.

I'm thinking about March health/fitness goals and haven't really set any yet. I completed the 30 Day Squat/Push-up Challenge last week and have started to prepare for the Burpee Challenge. I am starting to get my exercise time in earlier in the day. I think that is important for revving up the metabolism for the day ahead. It's a little unnatural for me (exercise is unnatural, much less doing it early), so that is a bit of a challenge. I'm looking forward to morning walks as soon as it warms up.

As a loner, it is more difficult to keep after it on a daily basis. A fitness partner would be nice, but finding one that has similar goals and temperament is difficult. In the end, since better health is for me, I have to be the one to keep motivated. The same goes for you.

I do find motivation from many of the Twitter feeds I follow.
Where do you find your motivation?

It's March!
Roar like a lion!
Be fit!
Be healthy!
Be well,

John <><

Thursday, February 26, 2015

These Boots Were Made For ...

For some reason I've managed to use the cold as an excuse for not walking very much this winter. Last year, I pretty much walked every day--regardless of the temperatures. There were days when the wind chill was below zero (Fahrenheit) and I still managed a couple of miles.

This year, not so much.

Yesterday, we got a break from the cold temps and I managed to get in a three mile walk. It felt pretty good. I need to get back to that. Today is cold and snowing, but I'm going to get out for a walk again anyways. I find walking to be the easiest exercise to keep in a regular routine. I know that it isn't much of an exercise to the gym rats or to the P90X and Insanity crowds, but it works well for a 50+ fat guy that needs to move a little bit. If you're not doing anything else, it will work for you, too.

One of the nice thing about walking is that we are all pretty much experts at it! Sure, there may be things that we can do better or faster, but we can get started without a coach or special instruction. And other than a comfortable pair of shoes, there is no special equipment required. When the weather is bad, you can walk at the mall. When the weather is nice, the world is your walking course.

I know that winter in the Ozarks is far from over (Did I mention it's snowing out?), but I'm going to get back to walking. You can look for my RunKeeper updates on Twitter and Facebook!

You don't have to be fast to lap everyone sitting on the couch. You just have to be moving!

Be well,
John <><

Saturday, February 21, 2015

For my "Apple a day" Friends...

I saw this recently and decided to try it out today.
We don't do pancakes nor waffles in this house so we don't have any maple syrup. However, we do have some raw local honey. Also, I have walnuts in the pantry, but no pecans.

Those are my simple modifications to the following healthy breakfast recipe!

Warm 'n' Cozy Apple Quinoa Breakfast Bake

Be well,
John <><

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Burpee Challenge ... again!

Last summer I posted about this Burpee Challenge.

I saw it in July and decided that the fat, out of shape old man was going to do it for August. Well I managed to complete the 100 burpees in just over the 12 minute challenge time. I was hoping to break it in September. However, a knee injury at the end of August and foot surgery in September put an end to that.

I'm posting this to say that I'm in again for March! I'll finish up my 30 Day squat/pushup challenge about 10 days before the first Friday of March. I don't know what that will do for my time, but it should help me to complete the 100 burpees.  I have to admit that my cardio/endurance ability is down and I should probably not wait to start building that up. Tomorrow is a rest day on the 30 Day challenge. Maybe I should skip the rest day and see what it feels like to do 50 burpees.

My daughter in law says that she may have a go at it. Anybody else want to join me? If work gets in the way of a Friday challenge, go ahead and do it on Saturday the 7th. I may give myself a rest day on Friday and hit the challenge on Saturday. I'm pretty sure that I can do them in less than 12 minutes this time around. We will see.

Be well,
John <><

Monday, February 16, 2015

Alternative Workout: Shoveling snow!

It's 9:30 am and it's still snowing in the Ozarks. It looks like we have about 6 inches already on the ground. I'm not sure how long it is supposed to continue. Temperatures are not forecast to be above freezing until Friday and skies will be overcast for a few days. This stuff isn't going to melt any time soon. Looks like John gets to work moving it off the driveway.

Here's what I'm thinking:

I'll make some more coffee before getting started. After all, there is no real hurry.
A post shoveling yoga session might be in order.
A post shoveling sauna will definitely be in order.
Chris will need her daily fix of fountain Diet Coke, so I'll need to decide if I'm going to walk the 1.5 miles or drive to get it. In spite of the cold temps (16F feels like -2F), safety from traffic is more of a concern since there are no road shoulders and walking in Ozark is hazardous in good conditions.

Okay, maybe I'll skip the more coffee until post shoveling. I might as well go ahead and get this alternative workout started!

Be well!
John <><

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Mushroom Asiago Chicken Dinner

Here is another good dinner recipe.

In my modifications I went with the extra chicken broth and skipped the wine. At step 4, I added a couple of cups of chopped spinach leaves and let them cook with the mushroom/cheese/broth mix. I used baby 'bellas for mushrooms.

We served it over quinoa (the red makes for a nice presentation) with cast iron skillet grilled green beans.

We have also had it with mashed potatoes and asparagus.

Let me know if you try it.

Be well!
John <><

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Breakfast Casserole

I'm not sure if I'd say this is a "healthy" casserole or not. I'm not a whole hearted subscriber to the paleo movement. I do believe in eating more fruits and vegetable and eating more like our ancestors, but I'm not sure that we need to go back to the days of cavemen to find a healthy diet.

Besides, if we truly ate like our caveman ancestor without living the whole caveman lifestyle (spending every waking moment hunting for and foraging for food) we'd probably be as obese as we already are. And why are sweet potatoes on the paleo list but potatoes are not?

I say that because I found this recipe in a recipe book called The Paleo Effect.

(Click it to big it)
As always, I made a few modifications. I used a pound of sausage instead of a cup. I used coconut flour instead of arrowroot powder. And I used almond milk instead of coconut milk.

It turned out pretty good.

Overall I'd have to say that it's more trouble than I'd want to go through on a regular basis. However, it works well to prepare a week's breakfasts in advance if mornings are typically hectic. You can freeze or refrigerate individual servings, then heat and eat. Or you could prepare and freeze the entire dish to reheat before an early escape for a day at the lake or some other activity.

I don't have the nutritional information on it and really believe that cookbooks that are promoting any type of diet or lifestyle should include that information for each recipe. If people are looking for healthy options, you should give them all the information you can.

Let me know if you give it a try.

Be well!

John <><

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cardio Wake-up Call!

I guess it has been longer than I realized since I've done any real cardio work. On my last few bicycle rides, I blamed the local hills for killing me. After getting on the stationary bike today, maybe it's just that I'm in really poor condition!

I started with the idea that I was going to do a body weight circuit today but was rethinking that since this is supposed to be a rest day in my 30 Day squat/push-up challenge. I hopped on the recumbent cycle for a warm up and to figure out what I was going to do and soon realized that I need to get some cardio work into my routine more often.

I ended up using dumbbells, my pull-up bar, my machine for triceps push downs and crunches along with a few more 5 minute intervals on the bike. After just 45 minutes, I felt pretty good--tired, but good. I guess this old guy is going to have to use some of this interval work more often.

(Heavy sigh!)

Oh well. It is a relatively small portion of my day and I really don't have the time excuse anymore.

It's said that you should eat well to look good fully dressed and exercise to look good at the beach.
Here's to being beach body ready for summer!

Ha! Last year I was happy not to be the fat American old man anymore!
This year I'm going for the fit American old man!

Be well!
John <><

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Easy week; Hard week

I made last week an easy week for a couple of reasons. It isn't necessary to go into the whys; last week was last week. I did manage to keep up with my 30 day squat/push-up challenge and also got in a couple of yoga sessions.

As I said, an easy week.

This week will be a harder week. I'm going to go with a little more intensity for some short bursts and and get back to some daily walks. Last summer I was combining walk/runs with periodic lunges, push-ups, burpees, etc. I think that I'll do that this week since the weather will be very nice for the time of year.

Okay, so it's not really going to be a hard week; just a harder week.

Keep moving.
Some days, move more.

Be well,
John <><

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Going with the Flow -- Vinyasa

Going with the Flow is also the title of my post on my other blog today.
But that is about going with the flow of events that make up my daily life.

Of course, I guess that could also be said of vinyasa -- going with the flow of events that make up life.

For the health and exercise minded people that are reading this, no explanation is needed. For the casual reader that has stopped by from Facebook or Twitter, vinyasa is a practice of yoga that flows from one pose to another.

In any case, I'm posting today because I'm finding that I like the practice of yoga. It is good exercise. Anybody can do it. It is oddly both relaxing and physically stressful (mildly) at the same time. If you find that taking a yoga class is inconvenient or uncomfortable, I'm going to recommend a site that I've found to be very useful in a daily variety and practice.

30 Days of Yoga is a month long series of yoga sessions. Each one is different and each has a different focus. You can click the link for an overview with Adriene. I started my 30 days at the end of January, have skipped a couple of days and have made up a day by doubling up the next day. You can do it how ever you like.

Be well (or in yoga speak, namaste),
John <><

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

On the Health Agenda for Today...

The healthy living agenda for today is going to be centered around food!

In my effort to get back to being more purposeful about paying attention to what, when and how much I'm eating, I made some good fruit and vegetable purchases at the store yesterday and need to get them divided into serving sizes and put into the freezer. These will be used in various combinations and with fresh, un-frozen fruits and veggies in my daily protein shakes.

I also plan on baking another batch of my protein/energy cookies and batch of chocolate peanut butter protein cookies for Chris.

I'm just trying to keep good, healthy foods around.

Eat well. Eat often.

John <><

Monday, February 2, 2015

Today is the First Day...

From somewhere in the distant past I remember the saying, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life."

...it is!

So today I am back on the food logging, calorie tracking bandwagon. Like before, I'm not going to be crazy fanatic about numbers, but logging has a way of keeping me aware of just how many calories (and extra calories) I consume during the day. It is also a pretty good reminder of what I eat and I often check the calories vs. nutritional value before I actually make a decision on whether or not to eat something.

My overall diet hasn't changed too much. I have been a little more free with sweet snacks than I was last year and I have been way too careless about those incidental calories -- you know, the snacks that we eat without even thinking about.

I just need to get back to fueling my body as it needs and being aware of what I am consuming.

So today is the day!
If you're in need of a fresh start, why not make today the day for you, too?

A fresh start for healthy eating; a fresh start for exercise; a fresh outlook on life.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Let's make it a good one!

Be well,
John <><

Sunday, February 1, 2015

February plan

So I continued today with Day 6 of the squat and push-up challenge. I skipped Day 6 of the 30 days of yoga and just did some good stretching while watching the first half of the Superbowl. I'm thinking that maybe I'll do Day 6 tomorrow morning and go back for Day 7 in the evening.

I have a midday lunch meeting, so I'm thinking coffee, squat/push-up challenge and Day 6 yoga in the morning. I should have plenty of time to get a little reading in before heading off to my meeting.
I'll have more time in the afternoon/evening.

Depending on the weather, I'll either ride my bicycle for a little road work or hit the indoor cycle. I need to get a little light weight work in and also the afternoon Day 7 yoga thing. It actually sounds like a lot more than it is.

Other things also need to get accomplished in the day; a little laundry, a little grocery shopping, you know--the normal household things. I think that February will be a good month. Thursday and Friday will be the challenging days this week as I have all day meetings on those days. If the weather is nice, maybe I can get out for a long walk during the day.

I hope that you have a healthful plan for your February.
Eat well. Exercise a little. Be healthy.

John <><

Friday, January 30, 2015


So we are at the end of January and if you set any goals or resolutions, now would be a good time to assess how you're doing.

For myself, I gave myself a 30 pass of sorts to wait for my schedule to become more regular. That begins now. I have started to get back into an exercise routine but know that I need to build more slowly than in the past. Today is Day 4 of the 30 day squat and push-up challenge.

I am also on Day 4 of 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene. I've started with a little bit of weight work but prefer body weight exercises for most things since basic strength and fitness is the objective rather than bulking up. I am using the weight machine for lat-pull downs to build strength to do more than a couple of pull-ups at a time. I use dumbbells for some shoulder and arm work and a leg extension and leg curl for some added leg work.

I'm also thinking that I need to go back to keeping track of calories. I know that even healthy foods can pack on a lot of additional calories in a day if you're not careful. I think that is what has been contributing to my slight weight gain.

So my real health work for 2015 begins now. I'll be back at the end of February with my 30 day report.

How about you?
Still on track?
If not, you could always get started with me -- right now!

Breakfast smoothie:
apple, cutie orange (whole thing, rind and all!), spinach, ground flax seed, almond milk, 2 scoops whey isolate protein powder and a few ice cubes.

Time for yoga!

John <><

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New 30 Day Challenge

Here we go again!

I'm getting back into the exercise routine. Nothing over the top; just a doable weekly routine of bicycling, weights and yoga.

Yesterday it was 30 minutes of circuit training on the weight machine in the morning and 30 minutes of yoga in the afternoon. I'll get some yoga in this afternoon or evening and plan on some early morning bicycling on my break during my final midnight shift at SGF-ATCT.

I'm going to add this 30 day challenge to my daily habit and am inviting you to join me. It may be that this will be an insignificant addition to what you already do, or it may be all that you do in the way of exercise for the next 30 days. Either way, you are invited to join in!

I've already got one to agree. Anyone else wanna play?

Be well,
John <><

Saturday, January 24, 2015

It's Time. No More Excuses.

Even though it is a week before my official retirement, I've decided that it is time to get started (or restarted) on my weight machine routine.

My final work week is an abbreviated one and I only have to be to work early on one day. I know that I work with people that are more dedicated to exercise than I am and manage to workout regularly in spite of our odd schedules. For me, it was just too difficult to manage establishing a routine other than daily walking when I was losing weight.

Now, that is no longer the case. The main obstacle that I face is that I am not generally too active in the morning and I think that I am going to prefer a morning workout to one later in the day. I'll just need to find the will and discipline to make that happen.

This week it will be Mon/Wed/Fri with the Wednesday workout being in the afternoon due to working the Tuesday night/Wednesday morning midshift.

I still do not expect to be a P90X or Insanity kind of guy. I am going to have to lay off the running and long walks for a bit and use my bicycle (when the weather is nice) and indoor recumbent (when it's not). I think I may have injured my foot with a stress fracture during my recent running.

Weight machine and body weight exercises for strength training.
Cycling for aerobics.
Yoga for overall conditioning, balance and well being.

That's the plan.

Here we go!

Be well,
John <><

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Today's Plan for Fitness

I was up early and made another variation of my protein power cookies. I had a three egg omelet with baby 'bellas, spinach, onions and cheese. I'll wait until it warms up a bit and go for an afternoon bicycle ride.

My butt's a little sore from my short ride on Monday. The ride around home has a lot more hills than riding around the airport terminal. My RunKeeper app said nearly 1000 feet of elevation. The grades were generally long and not too steep, but they really wore me out. Guess I'll have to keep at it until it isn't such a killer ride.

The weather is supposed to be pretty mild for the time of year. Hopefully I can get out on a regular basis. I'm trying to limit the impact on my foot for a little while. Even a short walk has a negative effect and causes a little bit of pain.

I just gotta keep movin'.

Be well,
John <><

Monday, January 19, 2015

Weekend Recovery

Oh my!

It was a weekend of over-indulgence!

Weekend guests and a small pre-retirement celebration made for way too much in the way of calorie intake and way too little in the way of calorie out-put. And now the work week arrives and it's time to make up for all of that.

Refocusing the diet is really the easy part. It so happens that I like fruits, vegetables and good for you foods as much I like the sweet, salty, high fat decadent foods.

The exercise part might prove to be a bit of a challenge, though. I somehow injured my left foot. I'm not sure how or when, but I'm self diagnosing a stress fracture or similar type injury in my left ankle. No running for a few days to see how it feels. I plan on getting outside on my bicycle later today since the weather is so very nice. I figure a little low impact aerobic exercise is in order. I don't plan on pushing too hard; just want to get out and get some work.

The weekend pass is expired.
Back to healthy living!

Be well!

John <><

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Another Cookie Recipe

Here's another healthy option cookie recipe.  (I say healthy option because there is no added sugar and no flour. However, they are still cookies and while chocolate and peanut butter taste great, they are not exactly health foods!)

As with the last one, I modified this to suit my needs and taste by adding chocolate flavored whey isolate protein powder by Body Fortress and substituting Ghirardelli dark chocolate for the chocolate chips. I was also more generous with the peanut butter.

Here's my modified recipe.

2 ripe bananas
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 scoop Body Fortress chocolate whey isolate
4 squares Ghirardelli Intense Dark Sea Salt Soiree (chopped)
1 heaping tablespoon natural peanut butter (be generous)

Mix all ingredients (I started with the bananas and peanut butter, then added the others), spoon onto greased cookie sheet, bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

I used a 1/4 c scoop and it made 1 dozen cookies.

I haven't put the ingredients into an app to determine nutritional information yet. I may try it again with some PB2 (powdered peanut butter) to add some more peanut butter flavor without the added fat.

and Be well,

John <><