Thursday, June 29, 2006

Choose Life

Why don’t we do what we should? Why do we do what we shouldn’t do? Of course these questions go way deeper than just eating wrong. They’re as biblical as the time God told us Life and Death was set before us—and to choose life!

If we could figure this out, we could make some real changes. Most people know what they’re doing. I hear it all the time… “I know I need to eat better, but… .” Or, “I know, I need to get moving, but I’m just so busy right now.”

Smokers keep on smoking even though they know what the risks are. We know we need to get rid of that spare tire, but we just don’t seem to do it. It’s like we’re still teenagers—nothing’s ever going to happen to me—until it does. But we’re adults. We should know better! Maybe we just don’t want to think about it. So, I’m going to stick my neck out and give you the skinny on a couple of things.

1. Keep eating all that junk food and you’re going to get fat and clog up your arteries. You’re risking heart disease, diabetes, and you’re going to have to keep buying bigger pants!

2. Keep drinking all that pop and you might as well be injecting sugar into your veins. You’re going to have low energy, and you’ll never know how good you could really feel!

3. Keep eating foods with trans fats in them, and we just might read your obituary. Have you noticed how many people seem to be having heart attacks and triple bypasses in their 40’s now?

4. Keep eating like birds (ladies, this means you), and your metabolism is going to slow down to next to nothing, and instead of losing weight, you’re going to keep it on! Of the hundreds of women I’ve worked with, 9 out of 10 weren’t eating enough.

5. Keep going back for more (guys, it’s your turn), and your belly’s going to stick out till you can’t see your toes. This makes lots of things hard to do. But it might not matter, if you have a heart attack—you won’t be able to do them anyway.

6. Don’t eat your fruits and greens, and you’re going to get sick more often, feel run down, and even have a hard time going to the bathroom (if you know what I mean). This is huge!

I could give you more, but I’m already feeling kind of guilty. I’m supposed to be positive—you know, like “Come on! I know you can do it.” But, some of you aren’t doing it! What’s it going to take to get your attention?

Here’s the truth. You can make some changes now and feel much better. Or, you can wait until you have to change and it will be really hard. Or, you can wait until it’s too late. As always, it’s up to you. As for me, I’m going to choose life. I hope you do too!

Friday, June 16, 2006

It's What We Eat!

Last week I shared a couple of great success stories that highlighted their commitment and vision. This week I’d like to give you another success story, but from the food side of things.

I’ve a client who’s a Black Belt student from years ago, who also used to be an aerobics instructor. This is someone with a lifestyle of working hard to keep fit. But exercise is only part of the equation.

In recent years, she’d developed an iron deficiency. Apparently, she was borderline anemic and her hemoglobin count got as low as nine (it should be 18). The irony (no pun intended) was that the medicine was worse than the disease. She felt run down all the time, to the point where even breathing was difficult. If things didn’t improve, she was going to have to go back on the medicine—with all the side effects that go with it.

One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that certain foods help certain conditions. In fact, if you have an amazingly healthy diet, many problems often start taking care of themselves. It’s one of God’s ways of helping take care of us. The problem is that most of us don’t take advantage of it.

For example, did you know that cherries have an amazing ability to help with inflammation? As a result, cherry extract can sometimes make a difference in patients with arthritis or gout.

So, we did an internet search and googled foods & iron. My thinking was that if she focused on eating foods that were rich in iron at every meal, maybe she’d be able to build up enough iron naturally. Then she might not have to take the pills.

She also started taking a liquid multivitamin each day. Liquids are absorbed by the body up to 98% while pills only get absorbed at around 10-20% (Physician’s Desk Reference). Again, the goal was to get more iron in her body naturally—in the way God intended.

It took 2 weeks before she really felt a difference, but she started feeling better. She got her energy back, and was able to start exercising again. She also was able to avoid taking the medicine because her hemoglobin went back up to sixteen, and her doctor said she was doing so well she didn’t have to come back for a year! A couple months later, she’s still improving.

Now, I’m not against doctors. I’m a life-long asthmatic and take several medicines daily—if I don’t, I’m in the hospital. But sometimes, medicine isn’t the only answer. Sometimes, the foods we eat hurt us. And sometimes, the foods we eat can help us. In her case, it’s helping. Lots.

How could you feel, if you just got off the junk and started eating better? If you drank a bunch more water and ate all your fruits and greens? I’m always looking for more success stories! How about you?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Do You Have The Vision?

It’s been awhile since I’ve given you a success story, so I thought it was about time. Actually, it really is about time! Time and keeping commitments. Do you take the time to work on your body? Are you really committed to it? Do you have the vision?

The following people do. In fact, when I look at why some reach their goals and others don’t, it’s that these people just don’t quit. It seems to be the difference between them and other people who struggle.

They’re committed. I can count on seeing them if not daily, then at least 4-5 times a week. They’ve made it a pattern that they just don’t break. It’s a habit now. It’s part of a lifestyle that’s giving them better health.

Today I talked with a client who told me he just hit a milestone. He’s done to 250 now! He was over 300 pounds. He looks great and feels better than ever.

He said he can’t believe it. That first day, after just one minute on the elliptical, he thought he was going to die! Now, just six months later, he’s doing 30 minutes. And not just on the beginning level, but up a bunch of levels!

He’s like clockwork. And it’s not easy for him, either. He works 3rd shift, and usually comes in after work. Sure he’s tired, but he gets it done. And you know what? He’s got more energy now than ever before. God truly made us fearfully and wonderfully. Our bodies can turn around, if we’ll just give them a chance!

I also recently spoke with another client who’s pretty happy with her progress. She’s down a couple of dress sizes, and even bought the last one a little tight so she’d have some incentive!

She says she just feels better. She can do so much more than she did when she started. And get this. She says “This is for life.” Her words, not mine. But I wish I’d said them. She’s committed. She sees it. She’s caught the vision. And I see her every morning—before she goes in to work!

In Proverbs, it says “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Another translation says, “When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is happy.” Proverbs 29:18.

There are certain laws our bodies are subject to. Eat more than you burn, and don’t exercise, and your body will run wild (get fat). Start watching what you eat, and start exercising, and your body gets better (and you get happy).

Now I’m not claiming to have a special revelation or anything but it sure seems like divine guidance to me: “TAKE BETTER CARE OF YOURSELF!” Make a commitment. Can you catch the vision?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Eat Smart, Part 4

So how much is too much? Protein? Carbs? Fat? There are so many diets, you might as well have one more to chew on. Actually, the best diet is no diet—it’s eating right. Balanced meals in the right amount.

First of all, it’s a good idea for you to count calories for awhile. You need to know what the real energy value, and energy cost of food is.

After you eat something, and then get on the treadmill to try to burn it off, you’ll be amazed at how long and how hard you have to work to get rid of just 300-400 calories. That’ll make you think twice before putting those _________________ (fill in the blank) in your mouth next time.

It’s also a real help if you know the approximate values of foods, so you can keep your meal portions about the right size. This will go a long way toward helping you lose weight, if that’s your goal.

Medium size women need around 400 calorie meals for breakfast, lunch and supper, and 2-3 snacks around 150 calories. Men need around 500-600 calorie meals, and 300 calorie snacks to lose weight.

So for meals, if your protein serving (fish, chicken, lean beef) is about the size of your palm, it will be about 3-4 oz for women, and 5-6 oz for men. That’s around 200 calories for women and 300 calories for men. Sorry guys, you’re just not going to lose weight eating that 16 oz Big Daddy Porterhouse special!

Your starch should be about 100 calories for women. Examples would be half a baked sweet potato, or half a cup of baked beans or whole grain pasta. Men can have a little more.

That leaves about 100 calories for fruits & greens. A great example is a medium mixed salad with all kinds of different greens: Iceberg lettuce, spinach lettuce, carrots, cucumber, onions, red pepper, green pepper, tomatoes, and 2 tbsp low fat dressing.

Once you have a few weeks under your belt, you’ll have a pretty good feel for everything, and it’s much easier to know how much to serve. That’s right—serve it in those amounts! Chow down and then walk away. It’s enough, and if you’re eating all your meals and snacks, you’ll be satisfied.

If you’re eating balanced meals (Protein, Starch, Fruits & Greens), and taking an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement, you don’t really need to count anything, other than hitting your daily target.

For me (active, 44 years old, 185 lbs & around 10% body fat), if I stay at 2400 calories a day, I’ll cut some fat. If I stay around 3000 calories, I’ll maintain. That’s good to know. So, how much do you need? Have you thought about it?

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Eat Smart, Part 3

For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about how to eat right. As you recall, it all starts with a good, healthy breakfast. Unless you had the late night munchies (we’ll save that for another discussion), you’ve been fasting all night. Now it’s time to get your engine started.

You also learned you need to have a high quality starch, whole grains—for long lasting fuel; a low fat source of protein—for building muscle and bone; and some fresh fruit—for quick energy to get things going.

This applies equally to lunch and supper, but you can switch from fruit to greens—to get your vitamins and minerals. Some diet experts also recommend you leave off the starch at suppertime focusing more on protein & vegetables—a Mediterranean diet.

But what happens when you get hungry in between meals? Or if the meals are too big? Or worse, when you have a “train wreck”—like those donuts they brought to work, the mega candy bar from the gas station; or worse, that plate of chocolate chip cookies lovingly made for you by your wife!

The problem’s pretty simple, really. It’s a matter of fueling up more often. If you want to avoid train wrecks, you have to eat smaller meals with snacks in between. If you find yourself reaching for something, it’s because you probably do need something. What you have to do, is control what that something is! You’ve got to plan it out by having healthy snacks around.

Snacks should be about 150 calories for women, and 300 calories for men (sorry ladies). They should have protein—for building muscle and bone, and carbs—for fuel. The carbs can be complex like whole grains, or simple, like fruits.

Here are some great snack ideas for you. Slice up an apple with 1 tbsp of peanut butter (men can have 2 tbsp). Eat some fresh fruit with low fat yogurt or cottage cheese. Or, a ½ of a peanut butter & jelly sandwich on whole grain bread.

You can also have a meal replacement shake—not to replace meals, but as a healthy snack. You can even go with those pre-packaged fruit cups, but fresh is always better if you have a choice.

A lot of people are even eating those 100 calorie bite size snack packages, but be careful—make sure there aren’t any Trans Fats in them (but that’s another discussion, too). You can even consider your dessert as a snack, if the calories are right, and it’s low fat—one of my favorites is low fat frozen yogurt with strawberries!

Snacks will tide you over until your next meal and keep you from having a train wreck later! You’re meals will be filling and more satisfying, too. Next week—we’ll look at the role protein plays in a healthy diet. Now, I’ve got to go have my snack!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Eat Smart, Part 2

This week, let’s look at what a day’s worth of food should look like. Remember, quality whole-grain starches give you long lasting energy; protein builds muscle and bone; and fruits & greens give you quick energy, fiber, and lots of vitamins and minerals!

It’s the most important meal of the day, and I didn’t make that up! It doesn’t need to be huge—it just needs to be something. Pick a healthy whole grain starch like oatmeal, or a high quality cereal, or 100% whole grain bread. Don’t eat too much—most women can probably get by on 1/2 to 2/3 cup of cereal or oatmeal, or a piece of toast. Men probably need a full cup, or 2 pieces of toast.

Add a good quality source of protein, like low fat milk, yogurt, or soy milk. Even low fat cottage cheese will work. A glass of milk will do, or 6-8 oz of yogurt.

Finally, add some fresh fruit like a banana, some cut strawberries, or even a fruit medley. If you have to, frozen is o.k., but fresh is always better!

Again you need to have a good quality starch—100% multigrain bread, or even Ezekiel bread! 1 slice for women, 2 slices for men. Whole wheat pasta or baked beans are also good choices. ½ a cup for women, and a whole cup for men.

Pick a good protein source, like fish, chicken, turkey slices (get fresh cuts—avoid the packaged kind), eggs, or cottage cheese. Sometimes I’ll have a chicken sub on whole wheat.

Round it off with some fruits or greens—maybe a side salad with low fat dressing. Or, you could have a chicken salad. Remember, the more colors in the salad, the better—it means you’re getting more vitamins and minerals! Another possibility could be cottage cheese on a salad, so you’ll get your protein too.

Some people will choose not to eat a starch for supper, which is fine, unless you’re working out. If so, you really need it for fuel. If you do, make sure you’re getting quality whole grains!

Make sure you get your protein here. Maybe 3-4 oz of meatloaf for ladies and 5-6 oz for men. Or have a chicken breast, or fresh fish—baked, not fried!

Don’t forget to load up on fruits & greens. I have a mixed salad every night, or sometimes a side dish like fresh cut garden green beans! Next week—we’ll take a look at some good snacks.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Eat Smart, Part 1

Last week, we looked at how to do Smart Cardio workouts, and the week before, Seven Tips for Smart Muscle workouts. This week, it’s time to look at How To Eat Smart.

First of all, it’s important to realize that we are what we eat. If we eat healthier foods, we’ll feel better. If we don’t, we won’t. The answer isn’t found in goofy diets, either. Eating Smart is a learned lifestyle. It’s something you can do wherever you are, if you know how to do it.

Eating Smart also starts first thing in the morning. I made the mistake of working out this morning without having any breakfast—boy was that a mistake! I ran out of gas halfway through, and had to go drink a quick energy shake to fuel back up. I not only didn’t eat smart, I didn’t eat—and that was dumb!

Remember, we’ve been fasting all night (that’s why they call it breakfast), and there’s usually nothing left in the blood stream to use for energy. It is alright to exercise on an empty stomach, if you’re doing light to moderate cardio. Research even shows we’ll burn more fat this way, but it can be tough.

You definitely shouldn’t try doing 20 minutes of high intensity cardio intervals, and then a serious muscle workout without eating though—lesson learned! Next time, I’ll do better.

Usually I’ll have a piece of Ezekiel Bread and some yogurt, first thing in the morning, or at least a Meal Replacement Shake (24grams protein/24 grams carbs). I just happened to get side-tracked and before I knew it, it was time to work out.
And that leads to one of our main problems. Many people are missing breakfast, and that’s a shame. Of if they do have something, it isn’t enough, or it’s poor quality. You need more energy to start your day—especially if you’re doing intense exercise. A fire doesn’t start burning without some kindling, right?

Miss a meal, and then some snacks, and it’s no wonder you might have a train wreck with those donuts or ___________ (fill in the blank) in the office later. No wonder you’ll gobble the whole bag of chips.

You’ve got to start out right. Eat 3 smaller meals a day, with 2-3 snacks in between. You’ll be fueling up as you need it, and you’ll burn everything you eat. The average woman needs around 1500-1650 calories to lose weight, and the average man needs around 1800-2400.

That amounts to around 400 calorie meals and 100-150 calorie snacks for women, and around 500-600 calorie meals and 250-300 calorie snacks for men.
Next time (after I’ve had my breakfast), we’ll talk about what healthy meals should look like. See you in the gym!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Exercise Smart, Part 2

Last week, I told you about a talk I had recently with a client. Like many people, they’d put some of their weight back on, and were pretty frustrated.

Before going into what they’re eating, I always like to find out what they’ve been doing in the gym. Remember, it’s easy to workout and not get what you want—you’ve got to exercise smart!

Building muscle is the key to boosting your metabolism. More muscle means your body needs more energy to survive, so you become a fat-burner all the time! And ladies, you don’t need to worry about looking goofy, your body will simply get toned up and look great! So, we looked at seven keys to exercising smart:

Be Consistent—nothing happens without consistency.
Always Push Yourself a little—so your body has to change.
Go Slower—to make it safer, and harder, too.
Use a Full Range of Motion—to get more flexible
Use Some Free Weights—to use your stabilizer muscles and core more.
Change It Up every few weeks—so your body has to keep adapting.
Get Enough Rest—so your muscles can fully recover.

We also need to exercise smart in our cardio workouts. Did you know that you can walk everyday for years and get fatter? If you do the same thing you’ve always done, your body has no reason to change—so it won’t. Then, as you get older, your metabolism slows down, burning fewer calories. You can actually keep exercising, but gain weight!

What you have to do is push it a little. You’ve got to make your body change, or it won’t. It might even get worse. So, the best way to push it is by doing interval training. This lets you push it a little, and then back off to recover.

If you’re walking, do some intervals where you walk faster for a couple minutes before backing off to recover. Then hit it again. Or crank up the grade on that treadmill. Walk uphill awhile, and then come back down for a little bit. Then, hit it again. Or, mix up some hills with walking faster.

If you’re running, jog a little while, and then walk. Then do it again. Maybe this is your first time jogging. That’s O.K. It doesn’t matter how fast you go, or how far—just that you push it a little bit at your own level. Always try to push it a little faster, or for a little longer. Don’t just do the same thing all the time!

If you’re on an elliptical, bike, stair-stepper, etc… try some intervals there, too. Go faster for awhile, or crank up the difficulty to a higher level. Then back it down to recover before hitting it again.

Remember, Interval Training burns more calories in the same amount of time. It also has a much longer afterburn—so you’ll burn more calories even after exercising. This should help you jump start your metabolism again. Next week, we’ll look at the other side of the equation—how to get back to eating right!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Exercise Smart, Part 1

I just had a conversation with someone about how things have changed—for the worse. They’d lost quite a bit of weight before, but have gained it back.

How did that happen? What’s going on? This is a pretty common thing, and I know it can be pretty depressing. You should see my “quit file.” It’s five inches thick and filled with people who have stopped trying for one reason or another.

First of all, I have to say that individual is extremely dedicated to their exercise routine—never missing a workout. So what’s going on? Let’s look at the workout side of things first.

A success coach once said “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” This principle also applies to your body when working out. We’ve got to learn how to exercise smart! Here are some rules to follow.

1. Be consistent. Show up. Get it done. Show me someone who works out daily for a couple years, and I’ll show you someone who’s close to their ideal body weight.

2. Always push it a little. I’m always amazed at how often I see people doing the same thing they did the last time I saw them working out—and it might be months later! I wish I could personally train or coach everyone all the time—because man, do I push them. But they need to learn to push themselves.

3. Go slower. It’s safer, and it’s much more work, too! Slow it down—especially on the downward lowering part (eccentric contraction). That will get you way better results.

4. Use your full range of motion. Don’t do short motions. Contract the muscle all the way, and let it stretch out fully the other way. This is more work, and it also makes you more flexible.

5. Start using some free weights like dumbbells and barbells, in addition to the machines. While machines provide a good starting point, they have their limitations. Free weights force you to balance the weights, so all your stabilizer muscles, and your entire core (abs, obliques, low back) have to work more. You burn more calories, and build more muscle, making you a better fat burner, too!

6. Change it up. Every fourth week, do a “deload” week, where you just go crazy—doing different exercises. Your body is “fearfully and wonderfully made” and it adapts very quickly—getting used to things. Shake it up a little!

7. Get enough rest. It takes at least 96 hours for a muscle to fully recover. Try using a 3 Day Split instead. On Monday do Pushing (chest, shoulder, triceps). On Wednesday, do your Lower Body (legs, hips, low back). On Fridays, do your Pulling (back & biceps). Do your Cardio on your other days.

If you do these things, it will start going back the other way. Next week, we’ll look at how to do Smart Cardio Exercise, and later, we'll look at how to get back to eating right. Hang in there!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Some Real Results!

After helping getting people started, I like to check in with them once in awhile to see how they’re doing.

One couple in their early 50’s started their program last January 2nd. It’s been just over three months, and they’ve had great results, so I thought you might like to hear some of their secrets!

She’s 51 and he’ll be 51 in about a month. They’d been pretty inactive prior to starting their program, but both work pretty hard—she cleans houses all day, and he’s on his feet all day.

In 13 weeks, she’s lost 31 pounds and a significant amount of body fat, and he’s lost 43 pounds. This isn’t unusual, because it’s a little easier for men to lose weight than women. Still, for her, she’s averaged more than 2 pounds a week—and that’s about the best that anybody can ever expect. His results are actually pretty amazing!

I know they exercise on a regular basis, because I see them at least four days a week with the weights or cardio. She told me she’d always thought she was pretty active with her job but after starting a focused exercise program, realized it was a lot different.

She said when she first started exercising, she could only do about 2-3 minutes on the elliptical. Now she’s up to 20 minutes, plus walking. Before, she was “draggy, with no energy.” Now she just “feels so much better now.” And he said people are “trying to keep up with him” when walking through the plant, “instead of the other way around.”

When I asked them how they were eating, they said they cut out the fried foods and cut out the pop. Now, they’re eating more balanced meals (Protein, Starch, Fruits & Greens). They don’t eat as much bread anymore, and when they do, it’s whole grain.

When they eat out, they avoid fast foods, and try to focus on salads, chicken, and fish. If they have deserts, they make them small ones, but they don’t eat many of those anymore, either. He also quit spending money in the vending machine at work.

The other day, he read the label of a snack from the vending machine that was 150 calories/serving. It had 4 servings—and he used to eat the whole thing! Now, he thinks about what he’s eating because he knows what it represents in the gym.

Feeling a little like Larry King at this point, I asked them what they’d like to tell people who’ve been trying to lose weight. “You really can do it” she said, “but you just can’t give up—you’ve got to keep at it.”

He said it hasn’t been that hard. “You just have to make a commitment.” “Of course, it’s getting expensive,” they went on. “We need new Sunday clothes now.” And he laughed, “I let go of my pants the other day, and down they went!” Now that’s cool!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

You Need a Big "Have To"

Last time I told you about several people that have been an inspiration to me. Each of them had a personal battle to deal with—greater than many of us. Yet they kept fighting.

It reminds me of the Dylan Thomas poem. “Do not go gentle into that good night. Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.”

How is it that some are able to keep fighting when others give up? Why do some rage against the dying of the light while others simply surrender?

I’ve had people with arthritis tell me “It’s going to hurt regardless, so I might as well keep moving.” So, I’ll see them in the gym. I’ve also worked with stroke victims trying to find that reconnection between their mind and their muscles.

A friend has a condition where a virus attacks the myelin sheath around his nervous system—kind of like stripping and exposing a wire—so it just shorts out. Still, he comes to the gym.

Another client wanted to take more than 40 pounds off before a friend’s wedding next month. After 3 months, she’s lost over pounds, with a month to go. I know she’s going to make it, because she’s here about every day, sweating, working hard on the elliptical. She’s watching what she’s eating, and she’s getting to the gym.

These are the kinds of things that inspire me. Still, I’m haunted by the hundreds I’ve seen come and go. Sure, some moved, while others had work conflicts, and some were just too ill.

But why did so many others quit? Why do some stick when others don’t? I think it has to do with their “have to.” Your “have to” is what keeps you on track. It’s what drives you. It’s what keeps you working out, even when it’s tough getting there.

To me, it doesn’t matter if it’s a round of golf, swimming at the Y, tennis with a friend, walking outside, weight training, cardio, or taking my kickboxing class. You’ve got to do something! The Great Designer made you to move, and you’ll surely lose it if you don’t use it—if your “have to” is too small.

Each of us has a “want to” when it comes to things like poor food choices (junk food), over-eating, and even quitting. This extends to other destructive behaviors, too. To turn it around, we’ve got to have a bigger “have to” then our “want to.”

When you “have to” feel better, you’ll make a commitment to daily exercise. When you “have to” make a change, it won’t matter if you “want to” stay home today—you’ll show up. When you “have to” turn things around, your “want to” eat that Twinkie, or do that other thing, will have a smaller hold on you.

How big is your “have to?” Do you have one, yet? Because when you get your “have to”, things start getting better.

Monday, April 03, 2006

What About Bob?

I had a GREAT experience a few days ago. A person I’d been working with came up and said she just had to tell me something. “You told me something,” she said.

At this point I’m hoping I’d said something meaningful, or at least not stupid. She went on to say “You said that I’d be stronger next Spring when I’m in the garden. I just want you to know that you were right!

At this point I’m doing back flips in my heart because not only did I not say something stupid, but I’d actually said something that helped someone!

She continued, “I spent most of yesterday working in the garden, and I thought my back and legs would be really sore, like they usually are. You know what? I wasn’t sore at all! I just wanted you to know that.”

Wow. There it is. My reason for being. My purpose. And all her hard work paid off—she felt better and her life was better. And it’s kind of sweet to be right about something, once in a while, too!

Another woman was just talking to me about her husband. He’s in chronic pain all the time. She said I’d been an inspiration to him, and now he exercises most days. She said he’d all but given up before, and never would have left that chair. What she didn’t know, was that he really inspires me.

Like my friend Bob who came in a couple years ago, kicking and screaming. His wife basically dragged him in. Someone had told him he had the worst case of arthritis they’d ever seen (now that was saying something stupid), so he’d just given up.

He said he couldn’t do it, but I asked him to just try. So he got on the bike for just a minute—and ended up doing five. Over the next two years, he was a regular, working out twice a day! When he first came in, he was bent over, shuffling. In just a few months, he was walking with his chest held high. Though he went on to be with the Lord due to a serious heart condition and other complications, he’d inspired all of us every time we saw him.

And yesterday, another friend told me his knee had gotten hit by a forklift! It took the knee cap all the way around, and severed ligaments. They’d said he’d never walk without a brace, so consequently, insurance wouldn’t even pay for his rehab! He told me he’d joined a gym in Texas, paid $400 for the year, and worked on it himself! I’d of never known there was even a problem.

What do each of them have in common? They all did something about it. Yes, sometimes they had to be prodded a little bit—other times they had it inside that they weren’t giving up. But in each case, they worked it out, and to a person, they inspire me.

That woman I mentioned? I see her almost every day. And the husband? Him too. And Bob? It was twice a day. What are you doing?

Friday, March 31, 2006

We've Met The Enemy

Last week I told you about a recent seminar I gave in Pennsylvania, and how I saw people were the same everywhere, with the same needs and same struggles!

Out of 65 people, everyone raised their hand when I asked who’d tried a diet and failed. When I asked about two, three, four, or five diets, some still had their hands up. Five different diets!

We do it too. We’re so desperate that we try everything: Lo Fat, No Fat, Lo Carb, No Starch, No Sense, and more. But then we go right back to business as usual. It’s not the diet. To coin an old phrase, we have met the enemy and he is …us!

No diet works if we won’t. And the best diet? It’s no diet. It’s about eating right most of the time, and avoiding the things you know are bad for you. It’s about not over-eating, and in some cases not under-eating. It’s about getting moving and using the muscles that God gave us. It’s about taking your head out of the sand.

It’s about making decisions and sticking with them. Diets fail because people fail. When people get results, it’s really not the diet, it’s that they get off the junk, and start eating right.

We want to think it works though, because if it fails—and it usually will, then it’s not our fault—it was the diet. It was too tough, or too restrictive. We transfer blame to the diet, or system—anywhere but ourselves.

What we really need is some gumption. To stick with it. To not quit. To get back up and keep going. So it takes a year, or even two, to get back in shape. So what? Don’t quit just because it’s not fast enough to suit you. Or because you happened to slip up.

It’s kind of like marriage. The rate of divorce is what—50%? How can we expect success when we won’t invest ourselves in it? We’re too willing to walk away. We lack commitment. It’s the same thing with getting moving, and learning how to eat right.

It’s kind of ironic, because we’re so desperate to change—but we don’t. It’s biblical. The things we know to do we don’t, and the things we shouldn’t do—we do. We need some help with this thing.

The first step is to acknowledge our weakness. I’ll start. I really like Oreo’s. My first memory in life is sitting on top of the stairs at age 4, eating Oreos while my parents moved into our new house. I figure it was a convenient way to keep me out of the way.

Think about it. My earliest memory—cookies! Later, in school, as a pretty sick asthmatic, I became pretty much an outsider. No sports, no gym class—and no friends. All I had was my music, and snacks at home. No wonder I love sweet crunchy things. They filled the void. And no wonder I’m so into exercise and physical things now—I’m compensating like crazy for all those years before.

What are you struggling with? Where do you fall short? Is there a reason why you do the things you do? Spend some time and think about it. Pray about it, even. Get some real help. And get started!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Hungry for Better Health!

I just got back from a Bodies-in-Balance Seminar in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania. It was great—I taught a Kickboxing class for the Motion & Devotion ministry at a church over there, and then spoke an hour on dieting. Over 65 people were kicking and punching, and learning how to get in shape—and they were looking for answers too.

You know what really struck me? It was how hungry people are for better health, no matter where I go. I happened to be in Shrewsbury, PA (where?) but they’re just like us here. They’re all fighting to get their bodies back, too.

We covered the basics first. Like making sure you hit your minimum to make sure your metabolism doesn’t drag you down. For the average woman 5’2 and up, it’s about 1300-1400 calories. Petite women can get away with 1200-1300, and taller women 5’8 and up have to eat even more—just to hit their minimum. For men, it’s around 1800 calories.

To lose weight, the average woman needs to have a target around 1650 calories—for men, it’s about 2400 calories. It’s amazing to me how many people don’t eat enough!

We also talked about eating 3 smaller meals, and 2-3 snacks, and what a balanced meal looks like. We need a serving of Protein about the size of the palm of our hand. This can come from lean meat, fish, chicken, or a cup of a low-fat dairy product.

We need ONE high quality Starch—instead of all the junk we normally eat. Finally, we need to eat way more Fruits & Greens—to get all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber to help us feel better.
I also told them to choose low fat dairy products, dressings, etc… and then take an Omega-3 supplement daily (fish oil). Did you know that Omega-3 has anti-inflammatory properties, and is a brain food too? Kids have even gotten off Ritalin after their parents started giving them Omega-3.

We talked about drinking way more water—at least 3-4 20 oz bottles a day. Maybe 5-6 if you’re bigger, or very active. If we’re too acidic, we can have all kinds of problems, and water brings us back in balance.

Finally, we talked about staying active every day—we eat every day; what makes us think we don’t have to be active every day? They understood all that (it’s not rocket science—and I’m no rocket scientist either). During the question and answer session, though, it became clear that their struggles went deeper.

“We’ve been doing some of those things, but we just stopped.” Or, “I just can’t quit eating those _____ (fill in the blank).”People truly are the same everywhere, with the same needs, and same struggles. Next week, I’ll tell you about some of the issues that came up, and we’ll look at why diets fail. Until then, get off the junk, and get off the couch, too!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

How to Shop, Part 2

So you’re grocery shopping. Doing fine until you run across that Twinkie display. Or that Dorito’s display. They put those things right there where you can’t possibly escape them.

What do you do? Most people surrender and put them in the cart. Remember, over half of all Americans are overweight. We’re doing something wrong. Could it be it’s how we shop?

Have you ever seen a magazine ad for a hamburger, and you actually smelled it? You can even taste it. I mean, they’re full size. You can almost reach out and grab it off the page and eat it.

Of course that’s the point. They spend millions on advertising to get us to do just that. But what if we drew the line in the sand right there? What if we had the willpower to say no? When we see that box with the huge picture on it, and we can almost taste it we still said no. Not today! Not now. Today I’m gonna pass.

That’s what you need to do. There’s not a single thing you get that you don’t know if it’s good for you or not. You know if it’s good, and you know if it’s bad. There are no excuses. That’s where you have to make your stand.

If you don’t have it in your kitchen, you can’t eat it. You’re probably not going to get in your car and run out to the store at night just to get a box of cookies. It’s too much trouble. But if they’re on the shelf right there, you just might eat them all.

The first thing is to never shop when you’re hungry. Always shop after you’ve eaten. Then you’re full, satisfied, and can resist a little temptation. The second thing is to have a plan when you go to the store. Make a list.

Start in the produce section and fill up your cart with the good stuff for your salads. Get some fresh fruits for snacks and breakfast. Then get your whole grain breads and low fat dairy. Yogurts, cottage cheese, skim milk or 2%. Stay out of the cookie aisle. Say a prayer when you walk by that special end cap display!

Think in terms of meals when you’re shopping. Buy some chicken and meat for protein. Or some frozen fish for broiling or baking. Pick up some sweet potatoes, baked beans or whole wheat pasta for starch. Get some frozen vegetables for your greens, but watch out for those sauces. Make sure the package says zero Trans Fats.

If you want to have something sweet for dessert, or a snack, plan for it. Pick some healthy substitutes. Maybe some low cal frozen yogurt with fresh cut strawberries. Or slice up some apples with some peanut butter. Have some mixed nuts. Make some healthy muffins. Just think a little bit before you shop.

Start making some better choices, so you can look and feel better. Don’t surrender in the store. And next time you see that one thing that drives you wild—just turn and walk away!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

How to Eat Right, Part 2

Previously, I gave you some examples for breakfast, lunch and supper. If you remember, each meal should have Protein—for building muscle and bone; Starch—for long lasting energy to get through your day; and Fruits or Greens—for quick energy, and lots of vitamins and minerals. If you can just grab hold of this idea, it can change your life.

Unfortunately, old habits are hard to break. People tell me all the time they’re just too busy to do it. Instead, they do frozen dinners, fast foods, and often, miss meals—especially breakfast. Let me say this loud and clear: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!”

They call it break-fast, because you’ve been fasting all night. You’re starting the morning with nothing in your system—it’s all been used or stored as fat! You need to get the engine going, so make a point to start eating breakfast. One study showed that women who started eating breakfast, started losing weight, without doing anything else!

You see, each of us has so many calories we can eat that are basically “free”. You’ll burn it. For most women, it’s more than they’re eating now. Unless you’re a very petite lady (under 5’), you’re going to need a minimum of around 1300-1400 calories just to hit your minimum—to keep all your systems operating well.

If you don’t get your minimum in, your metabolism slows down to a crawl, making it very hard to lose fat. It’s kind of ironic—sometimes you have to eat more to lose weight! This can be true for guys too, but usually their problem is overeating—meals that are too big, and too much junk food. Nine out of ten women though, aren’t eating enough! Some know it; but some still think they’re eating too much.

You’ve got to start eating healthier breakfasts. Get up 5 minutes earlier, and cook a bowl of oatmeal with a banana, and have a glass of skim milk. You’ll have protein, starch, and fruit—a much better start to your day. Have a snack mid-morning, too. Some yogurt and fruit, or apple slices with some peanut butter.

For lunch, have something healthy. If you have to eat out, get the chicken salad, or a 6” sub, loaded with vegetables on whole wheat, or honey oat. Have another snack in the afternoon—maybe a meal replacement shack (lots of protein!), or a protein bar.

Have a great home cooked meal for supper. Have a Protein serving about the size of your hand. Have one Starch, and load up on the greens—a large salad with low fat dressing, or some fresh or frozen vegetables!

You might have to change your shopping habits, but it will be well worth it—you’ll start feeling better, and have more energy for your workouts, too! Next week, I’ll give you some examples of quality Proteins, Starches, and Fruits & Greens to choose from. You can do it. Make a decision!

How to Eat Right, Part 1

I heard a report on the news the other day about car seats getting larger to accommodate our growing population! On the bookshelf in our local superstore there were 3 different calorie counting books, 4 diet books, and 3 exercise books—all best sellers. With that much attention to diet and exercise, you’d think they’d be putting smaller seats in cars!

Today I was counseling a woman who wants to drop 20-25 pounds. She started her day with a large cappuccino for breakfast. Lunch was a fast food chicken sandwich, with several lemon drops for a snack. Finally, supper was a 6” sub on wheat (actually, not a bad choice). Now there’s nothing wrong with a cup of coffee to start your day, but for breakfast?

Clearly, she needs to make better choices. Every meal should have a source of Protein, a Starch, and some Fruits or Greens. Here’s how she could change things and feel a whole lot better, right away:

1. A serving of Oatmeal or Quality Whole Grain Cereal (1 cup)
2. Glass of Lowfat Milk (8 oz)
3. A Banana (medium)

The banana is a simple carb—for quick energy to get going. The oatmeal is a high quality complex (long burning) carb—so she’ll have energy for a few hours. Both have lots of vitamins and minerals, so she’ll feel better! Finally, the lowfat milk is a good source of protein—for building muscle and bone.

1. 6” chicken (or other meat) sub on whole grain bread
2. Load it with lots of vegetables
3. Have a few chips if you like (buy the small bag)

The chicken is the protein—for building muscle and bone. The bread is the starch—for long lasting fuel for the afternoon, and the veggies are your fruits and greens—for some fiber and lots of vitamins & minerals.

1. Home made Meatloaf (3-4 oz women, 5-6 oz men)
2. 1/2 of a baked Sweet Potato
3. A Large Salad with lots of veggies: Lettuce, Spinach greens, tomato, cucumber, carrots, purple onion, green peppers, olives, and low fat dressing.

The meatloaf is the protein—for building muscle & bone. The 1/2 baked sweet potato is the starch—for fuel, and the salad is full of lots of vitamins & minerals—for your body. See the pattern?

You’d be stunned at how much you can eat when you’re eating the right things. And snacks? Try an apple sliced up with peanut butter, or some cottage cheese & fruit, or mixed nuts & raisins. Or even some frozen yogurt with some strawberries! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

How to Shop, Part 1

You’ve made a promise to yourself to start eating right. You know you need more protein, less starch, and lots of fruits & greens, and it’s time to go shopping. But what do you buy when you get there? Here are some quick guidelines to follow.

This week, let’s look at what NOT to put in your cart. Most frozen, prepared foods have too much sodium—anything over 300mg is way too much. Be careful--you’ve got to read the label.

Next, don’t buy anything that doesn’t say “Trans Fat 0g”. Trans Fats are found in hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, and you would not believe how prevalent these are. Directly linked to the epidemic of heart disease and high cholesterol today, the government is now making them put it on the label. Trans Fats can’t be absorbed by the body. Instead, your body coats them with bad cholesterol and hides them in your arteries! Yikes!

Stop buying whole milk and other whole fat dairy products. Drink skim milk or 1% instead. Go with 2% if you have to, but try to choose the low fat dairy option.

This one might hurt a bit, but you’ve got to stop the pop. Your body needs more water. When you drink anything else, your body wastes time and energy removing anything from it that wasn’t water. Drink flavored water or tea if you have to. If you’re eating right, you won’t need it the quick pick-me-up you’re getting from pop.

Next, do NOT put any white bread, or white hotdog or hamburger buns in your cart. They have no nutritional value, and act just like sugar in your body. And speaking of sugar—don’t buy sugar substitutes—they’re not natural, and the jury’s still out on them. The most popular brand right now is actually cholorinated sugar! Double Yikes. Use honey, molasses, or … real sugar if you have to.

Now we come to junk foods. There’s good junk, and bad junk. If you have to snack, make it good junk. Or even better, no junk.

Fruits, low fat yogurts and cottage cheese, some puddings and jellos, granola bars, nuts, cheese, low fat frozen yogurts, are all better choices than your typical junk foods. Not all chips are created equal, either. Make sure they have zero Trans Fats. Buy smaller bags or better yet, single servings. Even better—make your own muffins to munch on instead of those pastries!
Remember, junk foods are basically sugar. They give you a quick buzz, and satisfy your sweet tooth, but offer little or no nutritional value in return. Stay away from these. If you’re eating quality foods throughout the day, you won’t have to have them. This doesn’t mean you can’t have your chocolate once in awhile, or some crunchy cookies (my arch nemesis)—just make them occasional. Next week—we’ll take a look at what you CAN put in your cart. And like my cutie pie tells me—“It’s a healthy snack with no Trans Fats, Papaw!”