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 <><