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 <><