3-1-07 235lbs 3-29-07 221lbs 3-30-07 221lbs 4-6-07 217lbs Host unlimited photos at slide.com for FREE! Host unlimited photos at slide.com for FREE!

Five Month Break

 So what happens when you take a five month break from eating right? Well first hand experience says you climb back from being 205lbs to tipping the scale at 230lbs.  Your blood pressure climbs back to 165/118.  You feel lousy most of the time. You become depressed because you had been doing so well and now you are right back to where you started from.

Photograph:Start of a women's 100-metre sprintWhy  does someone let himself slide? Not sure it is an easy answer. Home life gets goofy, stress at work climbs, the focus on what not to eat, or what to eat, gets old and you don"t feel like being disciplined.  Beer looks and tastes really good.  I am one who likes to experience life and enjoy all it has to offer. Not eating what you want goes against that philosophy.  However, so does dying early.  I find myself being tired, unable to do all that I want with my kids, having difficulty tying my shoes, and watching my jeans leave marks from being so tight.  I've got to change.

The title of this blog is One Man's Battle. I am learning that this has always been a battle for me. A life long battle.  Today I jumped back on South Beach.  Day one of a strict 2 weeks.  I only made it 5 weeks last time, so here is to making it six weeks.

South Beach Diet - Week #5

Following the South Beach Diet continues to be a learning experience.  I have to remind myself over and over that the primary goal is not the weight loss, but healthy living.  My desire is to stop my slide towards diabetes, to lower my chance of a heart attack or stroke, to be able to participate in the activities I enjoy well into my old age.  Weight loss is just part of moving towards the healthy lifestyle that I want to enjoy for years to come. 

This last week was full of potential pit falls and my own weak will.  On a few occasions I blew it and ate a few things I had been missing.  But in each of those cases I readjusted my diet the next day and got back on track.  A meeting provided for very few options and I was still able to manage.  I probably had a few more beers this week then I want to have a part of my routine, but I managed through it.  In the end I continued to drop weight and I would be lying if I said I wasn't excited at the progress.  Today I jumped on the scale to find myself at 206lbs.  That is 5 more ponds lost, and in 5 weeks I have lost 24 pounds.  A few people have noticed and I feel good about the way I look and the way I am begriming to feel.

Now I am sure that a lot of the weight loss occurred last night when I had to work night shift at the last minute.  I spent most of the night sweating, and while I drank lots of water I am sure that I weighted in less then I would have normally due to hydration.  We will see if I actually lose this next week.  While I won't hit 200lbs by my birthday on June 4th, I believe I will be below 205.  To me that is huge.  I promised my boys I would start rock climbing with them once I get below 200 lbs.  They are excited.  It is worth the Battle and I am glad I am fighting it.

Relationship Between Stress and Weight

I have been thinking a lot lately about the connection between weight management and stress.  I know that I can be a stress eater, meaning as the stress increases I tend to go for comfort food to help me get through it.  A bowl of ice cream, a snickers bar, a can of Pepsi have all been stand ins for that in the past.  What I am wondering is do those who are weight challenged more likely to experience stress, or when stress comes does it have a great negative impact on those of us who are heavier.

Each one of us handles stress in a different way, and we all  know that the same situation effects two different people in different ways as well.  A study by the Department of Public Health Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago found that in African American women found that stress directly affected their weight control efforts.  But does weight have an affect on stress.

Obviously exercise is used by many as a stress reducer.  Those who are struggling with weight often have a low activity level which in turn means that they are missing out on one key way of managing stress.  It might also be argued that those with weight challenges are at higher risk for high blood pressure, and studies suggest that high blood pressure and stress can go hand in hand.

The most obvious issue however is again what the study above mentioned.  Simply that many of us have developed bad habits when it comes to coping with stress and instead of trying to deal with it in a healthy way we start eating, or neglect exercise, or start drinking (alcohol has high carbs), which all impact weight loss or weight control. 

While we will never be able to remove all stress from our lives, we can learn to manage it, and work through stressful situations in a healthy way.  It is worth the battle

Google Pedometer

Now that I am trying to be more healthy by doing some exercising I find myself jumping into my car to figure out how far I went.  My problem is a lot of my walking or jogging takes place on trails my car can't go.  I also find that driving my car around to log mileage is not as practical with gas up above $3.35 a gallon.  So leave it to Google to use add a feature to their map program and create a Gmaps Pedometer.  You can record your route, have it determine your distance and calories burned.  You can save it, print it, share it, you name it.  It even calculates for an out and back route.  Now I can figure out where to go on a five mile walk or run.  If I am traveling I can figure out a route from my hotel before I even get there.  It is very cool and I am sure has many more uses than I am even thinking of.  Log on and give it a try.  Great job Google, this is a huge help in my Battle to Live Healthy

Diet Success or Failure?

I said I would report back regarding my success or failure related to my meeting and the navigation of the dieting nightmare.  As I anticipated the room was ripe with temptation.  The muffins, the Snickers Bars, Peanut Butter Cups, Pepsi, 7up.  To make it worse the bottled water that was present a month ago was completely missing, luckily I had brought in a big bottle of water with me.  Bringing a few of my own snacks was a great idea, but the meeting was so slow moving that the snacks were gone before I knew it.  I was able to avoid the candy bowls and the Muffins for breakfast.  As lunch approached I didn't know what to expect, and as we were told lunch had arrived we were greeted with boxes of Pizza.  If you know me you know Pizza is my weakness.  I looked to see if a salad was coming and sure enough there was one.  Lettuce, croutons, and cheese.  No chicken or tomatoes are anything that would be filling.  As I ate the salad I realized it would not be enough to fill me.  I decided to scrap the cheese and veggies off of a slice of pizza and leave the crust behind.  Finally the meeting ended and we were off for drinks.  I had planned on drinking a few glasses of wine, but I gave in to a few beers instead.  It was worth it.  As I headed home I thought, I made it, I navigated the maze called a work meeting.  Pulling up to the house I was hungry, and there was no quick fix in sight.  And then I saw it.  Cheese and chips, an old favorite.  And in a moment of weakness I blew it, I made a plate of Nacho's and consumed the calories I was trying to avoid.

Looking back this morning I realized I could look at yesterday a couple of ways.

  • It could have been much worse and wasn't
  • I have successfully avoided Nacho's for over a month
  • In the grand scheme of things this is the first little slip I have had since starting
  • What a loser I am for blowing it
  • How could my family have put those two items where I would see them and be tempted.

Instead I am choosing to look at yesterday as part of life.  In dieting or a healthy lifestyle there will be days when we all eat a little less than what is best for us.  The real measure of a person is what they do the day after they slip.  Do they continue on their slid or do they make the adjustment and get back to making good choices.  I am proud to say that today I was back on track and heading in the right direction.  Sundays weigh in will tell the story of who bad I slipped, but looking at the bigger picture my goal is to become as healthy as possible and this isn't just physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  So as part of the battle, I am back on track.

Diet Obstacles

Today I will need to put all of my tricks to overcoming obstacles to work.  Once a month all of the facility managers come together for a regional meeting.  Looking at the tables you find a dieters, or healthy person's nightmare.  Walking in I will find the morning fare of Costco Muffins - High in Carbs, Fat, Calories, etc...  On the tables will be every kind of candy I crave.  The cooler will be packed with soft drinks.  Lunch will be provided and is out of my control to determine what is purchased.  Following work we usually head out to the local bar to unwind, catch up, and debrief over a few stiff drinks.  So how can a person navigate?

Here are a few things I am in the process of doing, and I'll report back tomorrow on how well it worked.

  • I have made myself a large breakfast of things I am able to eat, and made sure I am full.
  • I will be taking a few snacks with me like cheese sticks and peanuts, to help me avoid the candy.
  • I will push the candy bowls out of my reach and try to sit next to someone else who is trying to avoid the pitfalls.
  • I will do whatever it takes to get a salad ordered for lunch instead of pizza, pasta, etc...
  • I will grab a few bottles of water before I get to the meeting
  • I will limit myself to two glasses of red wine tonight and if dinner is involved order something that works off the menu.
  • I will tell myself all day, that the long term goal is more important than the short term gratification.

I was successful at last months meeting.  We will see how it goes this month.  I am a little more tired which sometimes leads to less will power.  It is worth the battle.

Weight Loss and Self Esteem

An interesting thing has been happening as I lose weight on my diet.  Not only is my blood pressure decreasing and my blood chemistry coming back in line, I have found I am feeling better about myself.  I always felt I had a good self esteem, but looking back I realize I was becoming disgusted with how I looked and felt it reflected on who I was.  I was also becoming increasingly frustrated about not being able to participate in activities that I normally found enjoyable, like soccer with my kids, running, and even hiking.

However, with the loss in weight I am finding my attitude about myself is changing.  I feel like I am able to be in control of things that have controlled me in the past.  I like looking in the mirror and seeing progress towards how I want to look.  Again, there are many benefits to losing a few pounds and this is just another on.  I am enjoying the side benefits of starting to live more healthy.

South Beach Diet Success - Week #4

5-20-07 211 lbsAnother week of my life style change and still moving in the right direction. And while the real purpose of my life style change is to avoid becoming diabetic, to reduce blood pressure without medication, and to live past 56 (when my Dad died), I find that the loss of weight is becoming almost an obsession.  Each morning I get up and head right to the scale.  My mood for the day is determined by what the dial reads (I hate the control that scale has on my life).  I spend a lot of time thinking about combinations of foods,their affect on digestion and fat retention.  Gone are the days of sitting down and just simply enjoying the taste of a steak or piece of Salmon. A glass of wine is no longer thought of as a Shiraz or Merlot, or talked about regarding its quality, instead it has become a Carb and calories.  Yet this is exactly what I enjoy.  Eating has become another process to gain control over or system to tweak and master.  So far I am figuring it out.

As of today when I jumped off the scale the dial stopped at 211lbs. That is another 3lbs in a week and 19lbs in four weeks. The only bummer is that my official weigh in day wasn't yesterday when I woke up and saw 210.  While 200 lbs is out of reach for my birthday on June 4th, 205 could be close. 

The cool thing is I am making progress, feel that I am eating very well, seeing visible results, and realizing the benefits of healthy choices in terms of blood pressure and blood sugars.  That is huge and very motivating.  Ok, the comments of people noticing is also motivating. This is so worth the battle.

Simple Ways to Increase Stress

At work we just completed a very stressful stretch of time.  In the Long Term Care industry we are evaluated constantly by a variety of outside agencies regarding our quality of care, documentation, floor practice, etc... Jobs are lost as a result of state surveys, fines are levied, and reputations made or destroyed.  Our annual survey was last week and the stress level went through the ceiling.  This process made me think about all the other thing in life that can cause stress so I thought I would share a few from my life, in hopes that I won't allow them to affect me so greatly the next time I face them.

  • Starting a conversation about home finances with your wife, 10 minutes before leaving for work
  • Being late to a social engagement
  • Paying Bills
  • A/R review meetings
  • Firing employees
  • Presenting to shareholders or owners
  • Trying to make everyone happy
  • Unannounced visits from your boss
  • Announced visits from your boss
  • Performance Evaluations
  • My Diet
  • The growing home repair list
  • Kids needs and wants
  • Buying gifts for my wife - I want to find the perfect one
  • Car repairs
  • Being pulled over by the Police
  • Subpoenas

This is just a small list of things that cause my blood pressure to go up.  However, I have found that with a plan ahead of time I am able to navigate the issue that causes stress, and minimize the impact.  Stress isn't necessarily bad, it usually is the alarm that tells me I need to get focused and get moving.  It actually is responsible for the success I have in life and at work.  But left uncontrolled it can rob you of living healthy over time.  It is just another battle I am facing, and on worth figuring out how to win.

Reducing Blood Pressure Without Medication

Once again I am seeing the results of living Healthy in a reduction in Blood Pressure. I have just finished my third week of a eating live style change (diet) that is focused on weight loss, and changing my blood chemistry.  As mentioned earlier I have high cholesterol, triglycerides, am pre-diabetic and my blood pressure has crept up beyond acceptable limits.  My goal through a change in my eating habits is to change each of these problem areas and bring them back into control.  In addition I have added mild forms of exercise back into my life.  Walking the dog, hikes in the mountains and along the local rivers.  I have cut way back on alcohol use and after three weeks am seeing the results. 

I take my blood pressure first thing in the morning to keep the time consistent, and also before the stress of the day starts to build.  In three weeks I have seen a drop in 15 points systolic and 10 points diastolic.  I am almost back in the acceptable range in both categories.  This is quicker and beyond what I expected.  I am living proof that eating right and staying active can make a difference.

My goal is to continue with the change in my eating habits indefinitely and to add intensity to my exercise over time.  What I am going for is something that I can sustain the rest of my life and right now working out at the gym 5 days a week is not sustainable, but brisk walks are.  It is worth the changes in diet and lifestyle to know I am becoming healthier day by day.  My 44th birthday is three weeks away.  My plan is that on my 45th birthday I will be 45 pounds lighter, that my blood chemistry will be in line, and that my blood pressure will be controlled naturally.  It is so worth the battle.

South Beach Week 3

Another week down and a few more pounds dropped.  This week allowed for the reintroduction of fruits and carbs back into the diet.  I have to admit, with the first two weeks calling foods high in sugar bad, it was almost scary to add them back in.  I have been very limited in how much fruit and bread I eat as I try to figure this part of the diet out.  I went mostly with a piece of 8 grain toast and red grapes.  The toughest part of the week was a party at our house last weekend. Chips, pasta salads, french fries, cheese cake, brownies, more chips, beer, wine, and hamburger buns, made it hard to find the vegetables and chicken. They were there but you had to look hard. Yes, I had a brownie, and a couple of chips.  The real problem was the beer, after two weeks of no alcohol I went overboard and really indulged in this area.  However, after my slip up I went right back on the diet and continued on.

I find that I love grilling food on the BBQ.  I just like the taste better.  Even veggies taste better that way. I am also getting smarter in how I store food before freezing.  I am anticipating nights that I will need to eat differently from the rest of my family and as a result am putting single steaks in a freezer bag so I don't have to thaw full slabs and then figure out how to deal with it.  My wife is also enjoying the fact that I am cooking and tries to have me cook for the entire clan a few times a week.  I am beginning to find it enjoyable. 

So, week three found me weighing in at 214lbs this morning. for my height of 5'11" that puts me at a Body Mass Index of 28.4. I am now officially overweight and not obese (not sure if that is something to cheer about or not).  That is a three pound drop from last week and 16 pounds overall. My birthday is June 4th, and while I won't be under 200lbs by then it sure would be great if I could get down to 205.  Anyway, I have been lax on any kind of exercise, so adding that back in should make a difference.  Although, adding muscle actually increases weight.  Still, I feel a lot better.  It is definitely worth the battle.

Lower Blood Pressure Through Food

Struggling with lowering High Blood Pressure?  The DASH approach might be for you.  DASH is a simple acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.  I came across it recently in a Long Term Care Nursing Facility.  This approach has been shown to help prevent, or help reduce, High Blood Pressure.  It is very similar to what is found in the South Beach Diet I am on.  The DASH approach is big on vegetables and fruits, encourages low fat milk and cheeses, watches or limits foods regarding saturated fat and cholesterol, and stresses a reduction in salt and sodium. 

Dash for Health is a Web Site that will create menus and assist you in getting started on this diet.  The creators of the diet claim you will see reductions in your blood pressure in just 14 days.  It is worth taking a look at, if you are looking for natural ways to reduce your blood pressure.

Blood Pressure - What to Do

For years I watched my dad struggle with High Blood Pressure.  Expensive medications, attempts to be physically active, moodiness, where all apart of his life as a result of his elevated Blood Pressure. I remember as a kid vowing to never get it.

Fast forward 30 years.  I am now 43, and have been told by my doctor I have High Blood Pressure. Research would say that those who are over weight or obese, those who are inactive, those who have poor diets, high in salt and cholesterol, are at increased risk for High Blood Pressure.  Experts differ on what is High Blood Pressure.  Some say anything 0ver 120/88, yet others say 140/90.  All I know is that I have it.  So not wanting to go on medications I have been reading on what can reduce Blood Pressure, and while each of us respond differently to these ideas, they are worth trying"

  1. Lose that weight - I realized through reading that I fall into the obese range.  My first step to lose weight. Because I also was told I am pre-diabetic my diet needed to consider this as well.  I have landed on the South Beach Diet to get me going.
  2. Get Active - Not ready to train for a marathon yet, but I do realize I need to get moving.  I have started to walk and am increasing my pace.  My goal is 30 minutes 5 times a week.  When I get to 200lbs I will go back to running.
  3. Limit Alcohol - Everything I read says this can be an issue. A glass of wine each day is ok, but more than that your risking it.
  4. Watch the salt and other BP problem foods - Diet is taking care of that one.
  5. Monitor your Stress in Life - One reason I take walks is to reduce my stress and get where I can think.  I also have calming music on in my office on most days.
  6. Don't completely avoid medications- I would rather take pills than wind up in the hospital.

The reality is the list above is a part of Healthy Living.  I am finding that my Blood Pressure, Weight, Pre-diabetes, and other issues are really the by product of unhealthy choices I have made over the last few years.  Healthy Living is a battle worth fighting.

Dealing with Diet Setbacks

It was a gorgeous day Sunday.  Friends were coming over for a barbeque, the grill was ready to go, and the first guest to arrive comes in with a wonderful cheese cake for desert. Each guest to follow brought something equally off my diet like chips, rolls, you name it all the foods showed up calling my name.  Earlier in the day I had developed a plan on how to have just one beer, stay away from using a bun, stay with the veggies and not the chips. It was all going well until I noticed I was drinking beer number three and the party was still young.

As you can guess, with the resolve broken soon the chips and fries were on my plate, a brownie and who could pass on the cheese cake.  That night I felt like a loser, taken out of my game, I had blown it.  So now what?  My definition of a setback is something that impedes progress for a short time. I have determined the time for the setback is over and it its time to resume with the original plan of living healthy, so, back on the diet.

With South Beach you can move back and forth between phases.  I am going to jump back on the strict phase for a three to four days and keep moving ahead.  I am anticipating set backs along the way, however, I resolve to have a game plan to deal with them before they occur. And, if I should fail to stay with the plan, I commit to getting back on track the next day.  Again, I am talking about a change in lifestyle, one that corrects my blood chemistry (to the extent it can), that gets me off the obesity chart and even the overweight chart, that helps me lower my blood pressure, and results in a healthy life style.  It is worth the battle over set backs.

Weight Loss in Pictures

3-1-07 235lbs 3-29-07 221lbs 3-30-07 221lbs 4-6-07 217lbs

A week at a time

South Beach Diet - Week 2

I have just stepped off the scale at the end of week #2 on the South Beach Diet.  The first two weeks are the strict phase where you cut out the high carb, high sugar items. Translated that means no bread, cereal, fruit, candy, pop, alcohol, chips, tortillas, etc..... (you know, all the things that used to make up my diet). The purpose of this strict phase is to change you blood chemistry, change your metabolism, and to reduce cravings for the wrong types of food.  Obviously, the byproduct of those three things happening should show up in weight loss result and the claimed reduced inches around the middle. Those who know I am on the diet have asked a number of questions, so let me list a few answers here before giving the results from the week.

  • I am on the diet because my Doctor said I am pre-diabetic and need to make a change in my diet and lifestyle.  Also, my weight has crept up and in reading I find I am no longer overweight, but am considered obese at 230 pounds.
  • There have been two really tough days on the diet so far.  The first was during a day of work meetings in which the tables are full of candy bowls, there are soft drinks galore, lunch is provided, and we all go out for drinks afterwards.  The second tough day was yesterday following my son's soccer teams state cup victory.  While we celebrated with pizza and wine as a family, I ate a salad and drank water (those who know me, understand that I could live on pizza)
  • I am typically a stress eater - however, I have found that eating small snacks throughout the day has helped me control this some what.  I think I am grabbing a cheese stick, or a handful of peanuts instead of making a plate of nacho chips.
  • I am having to change a number of bad habits like..... not eating breakfast or lunch, and coming home and attacking the fridge for the next two hours at the end of the day, eating lots of bread to try and stop the hunger, eating as fast as possible, large portions, and going back for seconds.
  • I am no longer eating without thinking.  I find as we have been out to eat a few times I am really looking at the menu to see what is a healthy choice, and not just what sounds good. I am making my lunch before I go to work rather than being forced to run across the street at lunch to the McD's
  • You may laugh but No, it is not a diet, it is a life style I am trying to develop.

So what has happened this last week?  I started the week at 221 pounds, and this morning as I stepped of the scale I was at 217 pounds.  I weighed without any clothes, without eating anything yet this morning, and having just gone to the bathroom.  That is a 4 pound loss. Total weight lost to date is 13 pounds.  The loss should start slowing down as I introduce some carbs and fruits back into my diet.  My goal is to lose a total of 55 pounds over the year.  That is a simple one pound a week loss.  if it is faster than that you won't hear me complain.  It is worth the battle.

Winning at Weight Loss

I found myself getting a little discourage with my attempt to lose 45 pounds this last week.  Obviously I would like to see it melt off instantly, but as I have mentioned in earlier posts sustained weight loss usually occurs in those who have changed their lifestyle and reached their goal slowly over time.  So to get myself out of the funk I was in I started to ask myself the same questions I ask when I run into similar feelings with my plans/strategies at work.

  1. Is the goal specific - Have I really defined what I am shooting for?  In my case the goal is bigger then weight loss, it is about brining my metabolism back on line, changing my blood chemistry, and living healthy.
  2. Is the goal attainable - Can I really make it happen?  If the goal is to drop 20 pounds by tomorrow, you probably won't be successful.  If the goal is to reduce your calorie intake by 500 cal per day, now you might make it.  If it is to lose 1 pounds per week over over 45 weeks, you have a fighting chance.
  3. Does the goal allow for setbacks - In other words, what happens if you fall short? Do you give up and quit or does your goal allow for the ups and downs of life?  For me and weight loss there will be weeks of 1 pound loss followed by weeks of one pound gains.  Sometimes I might have a three pound loss and be back on track.  Perfection is not my goal.

If you are like me you can be easily discouraged and want to give up.  The trick is to see the long term goal and the outcome it will produce, recognizing that it is worth pursuing.  Short term focus, while necessary, has a tenancy to trip us up.  It is worth the battle.

Stress Reduction Tips

Everyone experiences stress at some level in their lives.  In many ways, stress is a red flag to tell us that something is effecting us.  These things are not always bad.  That butterfly feeling you have before you run in a track meet, or speak in front of a crowd, is alerting every part of your body that something big is going to happen, and to be ready.  The stress/anxiety you feel before meeting with your boss, tells your body it needs to be ready to think fast, impress, or maybe protect itself emotionally. For me lately, the stress has been related to my children, and it simply reminds me I need to keep my defenses up, and be ready to respond quickly to the issues they are bringing up. While stress isn't necessarily bad by itself, it can have a negative affect on us and those around us.  Let me list a few:

  • Headaches.
  • Muscle tension and pain.
  • Sleep Problems.
  • Feeling tired.
  • Chest pain.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Weight problems, up or down.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Decreased sex drive.
  • Eating more or less.
  • Withdrawing from others.
  • Neglecting your responsibilities.
  • Increasing alcohol and drug use.
  • Nervous habits (nail biting, pacing).
  • Teeth grinding or jaw clenching.
  • Overdoing activities such as exercising or shopping.
  • Losing your temper.
  • Overreacting.
  • Moody and hypersensitive.
  • Restlessness and anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Anger and resentment.
  • Easily irritated .
  • Feeling overwhelmed.
  • Lack of confidence.
  • Apathy.

    So what can you do when you start to see some of these things surface in your life?  Here is what I did this last week (I experienced almost every one of the above symptoms):

    • Took a long walk with my dog.
    • Listened to some great music - the actually make some cd's just to help reduce stress.
    • Did yard work.
    • Went to an Art Show.
    • Listened to the Wind in the Trees.
    • Went to the movies
    • Spent time talking with friends
    • Started a book
    • Exercised

    If a few of these sound like I was running away from the issues I was facing, you are right. But a short time focused on something else can free your mind up long enough to come back and deal with it from a fresh perspective.  The goal is not to run away or avoid, but to give your self a short break before coming back and dealing with it.  As you come up with your own list of stress relievers leave a comment of things you do.  It could help me and others.


  • Effects of Weight Loss on Blood Pressure

    Over the last few weeks I have been very interested in finding non pharmaceutical ways to control my blood pressure.  Without to much surprise, weight loss through proper nutrition seems to be the number one thing you can do for yourself.  A 10 pound weight loss is said my some experts to reduce your BP by 8 points.  Eating the right types of food can also have a dramatic impact on your blood pressure.

    Most of us resign to the using of medications to control blood pressure because it means we don't have to change our live style.  However, I would rather spend the $50 - $100 a month I would have to pay for medications, on a gym membership, a mountain bike, healthier foods, etc....

    This last week I was able to lose 9 pounds following a diet plan. While this is a fast drop in weight my goal is to lose another 45 pounds over the course of this year.  In the first week alone my blood pressure dropped by 5 points systolic and 7 points diastolic.  While that still puts me in the category of Pre-hypertension (Pre-hypertension is 120-139 over 80-89), to me that is significant.  I am not sure if it is a result of the weight or the change in foods.  Next I will be adding a little more exercise, but weight loss does make a difference.  I am proof. For more info on Blood Pressure go to Workings.  They have some great thoughts on this topic.

    South Beach Diet Excitement

    I have just stepped off the scale after 7 days on the south beach diet.  I have stayed away from weighing myself because in the past I had trouble emotionally handling the 2 pounds lost, one pound gained cycle I typically find myself in.  So here are some quick facts about my past week.

    • I started the week at 230 pounds and my goal is to be at 178-175lbs
    • I started by going to the store and buying the food I would need to be successful
    • I kept a jar of unsalted penults at work for quick snacks and always had a glass of water close by
    • I made one mistake, I without thinking grabbed a piece of taffy out of a bowl in one of my employees offices without thinking.
    • I tried very hard to anticipate situations that might mess up my diet attempts
    • I have a very supportive family - wife and kids - and a few supportive friends.
    • I felt hungry often, but found that a slice of thin ham, or cottage cheese, did a great job of helping me get rid of it.
    • I took a few walks, but not as many as I had planned 

    So what were the results???  I am at 221 pounds this morning.  I have not eaten yet or drank anything this morning, but I am at 221 pounds on 4/29/07. I am off to a very satisfying start to this diet.  As I mentioned before, my real reason for being on the diet has more to do with overall health then weight loss.  As I have been reading, those who have lost the weight and keep it off generally lose small amounts of weight each week, 1-2 pounds, over 2 years or more, not as a result of a fad diet, but as a result in a life style change that effects how they view food, how they use food, what they think about food, and ultimately what they do with their food.

    So what did a typical day look like for me? I started each morning with a large glass of water.  I then would make breakfast with a variety of sauteed vegetables ( I love onions, mushrooms and bell peppers), two slices of lean thin sliced ham, two eggs, and a small amount of cheese. I also gave myself a small cup of coffee with some 1% mild.  While breakfast was cooking I would start making a salad for lunch.  I tried to always add chicken, shrimp or ham to the salad for protein and then olive oil and balsamic vinegar for the dressing.  I would grab a cheese stick out of the fridge for a later morning snack and by the time that breakfast was ready I had lunch ready to go as well. My kids laughed at me because I was outside grilling chicken at 7am.  I would try to eat the cheese stick around 10:30 and lunch at noon.  The second half of the day is tough for me.  I would find myself getting hungry around 2pm.  I would have a handful of peanuts but be hungry again at 3pm. With only peanuts around I would have another handful and hope to make it until dinner.  At home around 6pm I would grab another cheese stick or some cottage cheese so I wouldn't be so hungry at dinner I would eat uncontrollably.  Dinner would be some form of grilled beef or chicken, I will buy fish this week. I also would fix up a large amount of vegetables steamed or sauteed, and then make a crispy, crunch salad. Throughout the day I was drinking glass after glass of water.  Sometimes it would help with the hunger, but I swear most of my exercise was walking back and forth from the bathroom.

    I found that yesterday I was a little bit bored of the same type of food every day, but after next week will be adding some fruit and carbs back in.

    Weight is coming down and so are the blood pressure numbers.  I am excited.  I wish you success this week in your diet endeavors.  It is worth the battle.

    Remember your youth

    Today I found myself outside watching my 14 year olds semi-final soccer match.  It is said that in a soccer game the midfielder's can easily run 5+ miles.  What struck me was how they were running without appearing that they were affected in anyway by the effort they were exerting.  Perhaps it was the almost 70 matches they have played this year, or the fact that not one of them had an ounce of extra body fat on them.  These soon to be men, boys are the picture of healthy.  Bodies utilizing their fuel to produce the energy needed to complete the task assigned.

    Not to long ago (well longer then I want to admit) I too was able to run from dawn to dusk, place super human demands on my body, and accomplish almost every physical task I undertook.  What a change when I look at the Me of today.  I carry extra weight, do not efficiently use the fuel I give my body, tire in mid-task, and have difficulty more than I would care to admit accomplishing a few of the tasks I set out to complete.  The interesting thing is each of us can move towards the IMGP0653energy, vitality and good health that the 14 year olds I watched have.  We can gain control of our situation.

     While waiting for the soccer game to start I found myself in a book store reading Men's Health.  My eye was caught by the story of a man in his mid 30's who woke up one morning at 300 pounds.  He decided he was going to change his situation.  He cut his calories in half, started eating good foods (not fast food and candy), and began to exercise an hour a day.  After 5 years he is now 175 pounds and just completed a marathon.  There is nothing that says anyone is stuck where they are in regards to health and fitness.  Each of us can gain control and change our current situation. For me, it is a battle worth fitting.  I probably will never be able to play soccer at the level I saw today, but I can reclaim good health.

    What Keeps Me From Living Healthy

    I have been asking myself the last few days, what keeps me from living Healthy. By Healthy I mean, physically, emotionally, and socially. A few months ago I was ignorant of what healthy living might look like and entail. However, waking up, looking in the mirror, and being dissatisfied, I decided to start educating myself. There is a wealth of knowledge out there in books and on the web. The trick I've found is sifting through it and determining what applies to you and your life style, as opposed to just adopting whatever someone else says. So...... back to what keeps me from living healthy.

    1. It takes work to live healthy - The planning of meals, the buying of good food, making time to work out and then actually doing it. I come home after working all day and am tired, now I need to work again?
    2. I have to think - What is the Healthy choice? Should I really have another drink? Do I want to think this way? Is this something I should go to the doctor for? - When I get home from work I want to go mindless, not make more decisions.
    3. It will cost me relationally - My friends are going out to eat? If I make time to exercise I won't have time for my friends/family? Why should everyone else have to make sacrifices for me to eat what I need to, exercise when I need to, etc...
    4. I don't see immediate results - I want instant success that the world can see, not a slow over time change in my life.
    5. If I go to the Doctor, he is going to tell me what I don't want to hear -

    Of course my thinking is flawed, I see it in every line I write, but it is this very thinking that keeps me from living healthy. It is my thought process and way of thinking that is my biggest obstacle to living healthy. For most healthy living needs to start with changing the way we think and view life, work, relationships, happiness, success, etc.... It starts with facing the reality of "Who I am, Where I am at, and Where or Who I want to be." Seems so easy to say, but tough to do. For me I have 43 years of habits and faulty thinking to undo, if I am ever to have a chance at living healthy. Educating my self has been the starting point and a way to see what must change in my life.

    There are lots of inspiring Blogs on healthy living a great way to find a few is on the search directories like Blog Top List - Heath, or, Blog Top Sites. And there is no end to the books on Healthy Living. Each of us needs to decide what place Healthy Living will play in our lives, and then we need to decide what we are willing to do to get there. Again, I say it is worth the battle if the outcome is a happier, healthier, better, me.

    South Beach Diet - Obstacles to Success

    I am officially on the South Beach Diet, Day 4 is just beginning. I notice I woke up less hungry than the first few days, and after eating I am full. This is great, because during the first few days I almost had to tie myself down to keep from heading to the fridge, convenience store, or fast food restaurant.

    There were a few things I didn't anticipate or have a plan for going in, that you might want to be aware of as you start out on your diet, South Beach or other type):

    • Co-Workers Candy Jars - Many offices where I work have candy jars. Some full of taffy, others M&M's. Prior to my diet I would take a few whenever I was in one of those offices. On day one I, without thinking, picked up a piece of taffy and popped it in my mouth. You need a plan to deal with your environment.
    • The Mother In Law - Day two I got a call at work that we were going over to the In Laws for dinner. Not a problem because we do this almost once a week. However, when at someone else's house you lose control of what is being prepared. Noticing it, I quickly mentioned I was on a diet. We were having Hamburgers, Potatoes, lots of wine, and cake. With her ok I went for the Hamburger without the bun and Ketchup and instead put on some mustard, took some extra tomatoes and onions, poured up a big glass of water, found the makings for a salad, and skipped out on dessert. Since it was only one hamburger patty and I was on day two, I went home a bit hungry. I quickly made up a SB dessert and made it through the day ok. You need to be able to improvise when needed.
    • Today I have an all day meeting away from my facility. Of course I am in the medical field so all the healthy snacks will be there like; Costco Muffins - 100% Carb, small little candy bars, hard candy, pop, etc... I am known for eating a good amount of these items as I am a stress eater and these meeting produce a lot of it. Also, I lose control of lunch again. So, I will bring a few of my cheese sticks, and try to grab a bag of nuts on my way in to the meeting. I'll grab some water as well. Think ahead when you know what your walking into.
    • After the meeting a group of us usually go out for drinks, and we can drink a lot. Since alcohol is off the diet at the moment, and this is an area of weakness - not the drinking, but the hanging out with friends and having a few, I will probably need to avoid the temptation all together and head home early tonight. Avoid your areas of weakness when possible.

    There are many obstacles to success in dieting. My list is growing and I am only starting day four. I anticipate things like boredom with the food choices, the desire to go out to eat, etc... will soon make my list. It would be great to hear from you what obstacles you have faced and what you are doing to keep them from hindering your resolve to live healthy. I will make sure your thoughts get posted.

    Picking the South Beach Diet

    I have been researching diets for sometime now, looking for one that isn't just hype, but makes sense. There were a number that stated I could lose 20 pounds in 30 days. Others promised I could eat whatever I wanted and lose weight at the same time. I figured that the diet I chose needed to address the health issues that are beginning to creep up on me. Those issues are:

    • Obesity - In my research a few weeks back I discovered that my height and weight but my Body Mass Index just into the range of Obesity.
    • Diabetes - My last visit to the doctor I was informed that I am pre-diabetic and need to make some changes before I become diabetic.
    • Family History of Coronary Heart Disease - May Grandfather died of a Heart Attach, my Dad had open heart surgery.
    • High Blood Pressure - My BP has crawled up there and I would love to avoid medication if at all possible. My Dad and Grandfather also had High Blood Pressure.

    The South Beach Diet was developed by Cardiologist Dr. Arthur Agatston. As a result of problems he was seeing with the Heart Healthy Diets, he went to work on something that was simple and addressed the issues he had identified with the growing Obesity issue he was seeing. Through his research he determined that the efficiency in which our bodies break down food into useful energy, makes the difference in wether or not we gain weight and place ourselves at risk for Cardiac Issues, Issues Related to Diabetes, and other problems that affect those who are overweight. At the center of how our bodies breakdown and store food is insulin - the production of, and our bodies acceptance of or resistance to the insulin we produce.

    The South Beach Diet appears to be more about changing habits in how we eat and what we eat, then it is about losing weight. It is more about overall health then a fad that everyone is following for a season. The South Beach Diet seems right for me because it addresses some of the specific issues I am facing. I encourage each one who is thinking of dieting to research the diets out there and to chose the one that addresses the medical and genetic issues that you are facing. I don't believe that one diet fits all. I also know that for me to stick with something over a long period of time, it has to make sense to me. I'll keep you posted on how it works for me. Weight will be something that I am expecting to see drop, but I also expect to see my cholesterol and triglycerides come into line, as well as my blood sugars. With those areas being controlled I trust Blood Pressure will be affected in a positive way. My goal is improvement in my overall health and wellness. If that doesn't happen I won't be on the South Beach Diet very long.

    Pre Diabetes

    At my most recent visit to the Doctors office, he ordered the normal labs to ensure that everything is working properly in my body. Going over the results he stated, "looks like you have Pre-Diabetes." Thoughts raced through my head. Will I have to give myself shots? will I lose a toe or foot? does that explain my vision getting worse? All of course are things that can occur with Diabetes.

    Going home I did a little research, and found that 54 million people in the USA with Pre-Diabetes. That didn't make me feel a whole lot better, but it was enough to show it is an issue that many people deal with. Even less comforting was the fact that most type 2 diabetics started with pre-diabetes. The definition of pre-diabetes in its simplest form is - your blood sugar (glucose) is higher than normal, but not high enough to be defined as diabetes.

    There are things you can do to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes from developing. Recent studies show that a change in lifestyle has a profound impact. In a few of the studies intense diet and exercise counseling were given, while the test subjects were given little or no instruction. The studies found that the degree to which the progression of diabetes was slowed or stopped was closely related to lost weight, reduced fat intake, reduced saturated fat intake, increased fiber intake, and exercise.

    Thinking about lifestyle changes it seems that the changing my lifestyle now to slow or stop diabetes, is better than the alternative of developing diabetes and having to change my lifestyle to accommodate the disease. Its a battle worth fighting

    A good source of information on the studies can be found at Diabetes Care.

    Stress and Job

    Its been a tough day at work, you come home to more things you need to do. You can feel the stress level going up. What do you do? For many the decision is to get lost in a favorite TV show, or to take the edge off with a glass of wine. But experts tell us the best choice is to do something healthy, something physical. Many say there are benefits to be had from simply stretching your muscles and letting your body relax naturally. Others say a 30 minute walk or run can make all the difference. Even going out and doing some physical yard work can pay off in the area of tension release.

    Why does physical activity make a difference. For some it is just the change of focus, the getting your mind off of the issues at work or home. Having to focus on balance as you run, or feeling your body stretch, means you are allowing your mind to let go of the days stressors, and focus on something different. But again, the experts tell us it has more to do with the release of endorphins in the body, the relax us and make us feel better. The release of endorphins also aides the body in its ability to sleep better at night. So before you open another bag of chips, plop down on the couch with the remote, or pour a drink, think about making a better choice. A choice to live healthy is part of the battle that I must fight everyday, because I find unhealthy is easier and comes with less hassle. But unhealthy also means more problems over the long haul. Chose to live healthy.

    Natural Blood Pressure Reduction

    In researching ways to reduce blood pressure, stress, and the potential issues that can arise, I have found many articles on mediatation as a way to lower blood pressure, and to cope with the feelings of being overwhelmed. Meditation is simply a way to calm our minds and bodies, to become more intouch with ourselves, to get a handle on the world around us. It is slowing down in a fast paced world. One site that I recently came across was Anxiety 2 Calm, which looks at this idea of meditation. Another program that is being talked about is Breathing Easy. Both take the approach that learning to relax and calm ourselves can be learned, and that rather than having our external enviornment affect us, we can gain control of that enviornment in a positive way. Some of the other writers would state that learning to relax will allow our blood pressure and stress to reduce naturally, and this makes good sense. While all blood pressure is not the result of our external enviornment, reducing your blood pressure and stress in even a small way would be worth learning how to apply these techniques. For other ideas I ran a search on Natural Remedies to Reduce Blood Pressure on Google. There are many ideas regarding natural ways to reduce your blood pressure, but make sure you are trying these techniques while communicating with your doctor what you are attempting to do.

    Benefits of Exercise on Health

    Thirty years ago I didn't think about needing exercise, or the benefits of being active. As a kid I just was. From the moment the sun came up until it went down I would be out running, swimming, playing basketball, you name it I was doing it. It was apart of my life and routine.

    Fast forward 30 years and now it takes a little work to get myself motivated to start moving. I come home from work, a little worn out from the day, looking for dinner and something relaxing to do (usually the TV). The word exercise is equal to the word work. It is something I have to schedule, prepare for, dress for, and sometimes even travel to do. That just doesn't sound like something I want to focus on until I start thinking of how it helps me.

    In earlier articles I have written about obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stress. In each of those articles a common theme has emerged, that of exercise. The Mayo Clinic has an excellent list of the benefits of exercise on their web site. A few of these benefits are worth mentioning here.

    1. Helps manage stress - as I have exercised I have noticed a marked difference in my ability to handle and deal with stress. Exercise promotes the production of endorphins. Endorphins in your body help create a feeling of relaxation or well being. A short run after a tough day can help relieve some of the pressure you feel and free you from the tension you may be experiencing.
    2. Helps you control weight - We all know that the right type of exercise, three or more times a week can help you control your weight. And being at a healthy weight comes with all kinds of benefits, not to mention feeling good about yourself. Simply burning more calories, by exercising, then you take in by eating, will result in weight loss.
    3. Helps you prevent or manage diabetes - Exercise is said to help with the body's sensitivity to insulin. Simply put it allows the body to better use the sugar it is producing by making the cells more receptive to receiving it.
    4. Helps manage blood pressure - Exercise has the benefit of lowering your overall blood pressure when consistent. This is the result of your entire cardiovascular system, heart, lungs, circulatory system, being strengthened.

    There are many more benefits to exercising, and if you want to live a healthy life, it requires that we give our bodies the benefits that come with exercise on a consistent basis.

    Foolish Things to Do, Think or Say, if You Have High Blood Pressure

    10. Pretend it is controlled and not check it regularly.

    9. Don't worry about your weight, its only a few pounds.

    8. Enjoy the Salt, after all everything tastes better with Salt.

    7. Heart Healthy Diet? Only if it allows all the greasy food my heart desires.

    6. Have a drink on me, or three or four.

    5. Stretch your pills - take them every other day and save a few $$$.

    4. The doctor can wait, I have a beer and some greasy fries waiting.

    3. Exercise is for the professional athletes

    2. Oh, I'm sure it skips every few generations, right.

    1. Blood Pressure is a disease. I better just lay on the couch and watch TV

    High Blood Pressure must be taken seriously. Because it usually affects you without symptoms the most important thing you can do is to check your blood pressure on a regular basis. This is the only way you can know if you are suffering from high blood pressure or not. In addition, losing weight, eating smart, exercising, and cutting back on drinking and smoking, might not only prevent you from getting high blood pressure, but could actually reverse it. It is worth taking the extra steps to keep your blood pressure in check.


    Diabetes affects over 150 million people. Most simply it is a problem of how the body breaks down food, and uses it for energy . In a normal body you produce the right amount of insulin to move the sugar you have created into the cells. With Diabetes you fail to make enough insulin and you blood sugar becomes to high. Left untreated you run the risk for many problems.

    There are many terms out there you may have heard, Pre- diabetes, type 1, type 2. These are labels to describe those suffering with diabetes. In Pre-Diabetes your cells are beginning to resist your bodies insulin. It can resemble a lock and key. your cell is a locked door. The sugar wants to get in the door, and the cell would like the sugar to come in. The cell picks up a key (the insulin) and is able to get in. Pre Diabetes is the beginning of a sticky lock that won't always open with the key. This is usually the precursor to Type 2. However, a change in diet, or weight loss, can often correct the situation. The South Beach Diet really addresses this whole issue in its book and was very helpful in my understanding.

    Type 1 diabetics are those who do not produce any insulin. It most often occurs in those under 30. Because the body is not producing the needed insulin type 1 diabetic require frequent insulin injections. It is usually described as a genetic disorder.

    Type 2 diabetes, sometimes called adult onset, is the result of the cells becoming resistant to the insulin. It usually happens in those who are over 30, but has been know to occur earlier in life for some. This is the most common form of diabetes with 95% of all cases being reported as type 2. If type 1 is a genetic disease, type 2 is a disease of choice. It is usually triggered lack of exercise, a poor choice in diet, and obesity. These are all items that can be controlled by the individual.

    Living Healthy in an unhealthy world requires that we each make wise choices in how we treat our bodies. What we eat, how we use our free time, controlling our weight, all play into our health and wellness, and obviously have an impact on your chances of becoming a Diabetic, or controlling your pre-diabetic state. It is worth the battle.

    High Blood Pressure

    blood pressure x2High Blood Pressure is known as the silent killer. Many people have this disease, but because there are no apparent signs or symptoms many don't know that left uncontrolled it is leading them towards a heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, or even heart failure. The only way to really determine if you have it is to have your blood pressure checked.

    In most cases the cause of high blood pressure is unknown, but if you have a family history, are obese or overweight, have a stressful job, like to smoke, or are getting older, your risk gets higher and higher. Many of us can identify with two or more of the items above, increasing your risk. If your blood pressure is 140/90 or less you are ok. Any thing more than that and you have high blood pressure.

    So if you have high blood pressure, or want to avoid high blood pressure, what can you do? Some suggestions would be:

    • Exercise Regularly
    • Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and veggies
    • Limit Salt intake
    • If overweight lose it
    • Don't smoke
    • Find ways to relax

    The list above makes great sense with or without high blood pressure. I for one want to try and incorporate it into my everyday life. It is worth it, to add a few more years of Healthy Living to my life.

    Living Healthy Requires a Plan

    Today at work I spent a large amount of time focused on strategic planning. I looked at my vision for my company, the values that need to be embraced, the goals and objectives, and finally the path steps to get us to were we want to be. It is easy for me to think clearly and strategically in regards to my business and for me is enjoyable. However, on my way home I was struck by the fact that in the area of Healthy Living I have not done the work of creating a vision of what Healthy Living would look like for me. I have not thought through what it is I value in live and want to pursue. There are no goals listed regarding what I hope to obtain health wise. And sadly, there is not a single path step. No wonder I an so easily knocked off course, in fact, how can I be knocked off course if I have no destination.

    Developing a strategic plan regarding healthy living should not take much time, and good plans are constantly being fine tuned and revised, so you don't have to worry about having it perfect. Part of my vision is to outlive my Dad who died at 56. I am forty three and have 13 years to pull it off. My vision also needs to include my desire to stay active in things such as surfing and hiking, hobbies like photography and ceramics, and developing relationships that challenge me and stimulate my thinking. I know I value friends and immediate family, I value looking attractive (which I don't right now), I value being productive and creative. The list goes on. Once the vision and values are down somewhere in writing, the short term goals should start to fall in place. I may not climb to the top of a mountain this year, but a starting point might be to go on a 20 mile backpack trip this year. You get the just of it.

    I spend a great deal of time and energy thinking about how to make my business successful for the owners. It only makes sense that I would take the skills I have developed in the area of planning and create the most important plan of all, one that allows me to move closer to living healthy in an unhealthy world.

    Dangers of Obesity

    Since determining that I am that magic Body Mass Index number that equals obesity, I have been thinking a lot about what it means or could mean. I work in the health care industry and see people who are morbidly obese, and the effects it has on their health, their live style, their self esteem, their relationships, and just about every other aspect of life. You would think that seeing someone struggle to walk or even breathe would motivate me to get on track and lose the 50 pounds that I need to lose. But since finding out that I am more than overweight, I have become a little depressed and unmotivated. Realizing this is not good, I decided to do a little research on obesity and its potential dangers. Here is what I found:
    • Heart disease is greatly increased in those who are in the overweight category - a body mass index of 25+.
    • Those who are overweight run a higher risk of type II diabetes
    • Those who are obese have a 50% greater chance of dying prematurely than those who are of a healthy weight.
    • High Blood Pressure and all the health issues that come with it are twice as likely in those that are obese.
    • Increased likelihood of Depression
    • Increased likelihood of Gallbladder disease
    • increased likelihood of Incontinence

    and the lists go on and on and on and ..........

    So what does it take for someone to get out of the feeling of being stuck, and to begin embracing and moving towards health. For some there is a strong emotional tie to food, and a councilor is probably needed. For others it is making a choice to change directions and habit patterns.

    It is something that I believe is worth battling for, but is very tough to do alone. If you have had success in this area, please share some of the steps you took to be successful. We can all do this.

    So What Keeps You From Living Healthy?

    Yesterday was a day full of problems for living Healthy. It was Easter, I had to work and deal with a few tough situations, it was raining, friends and family were over, we had Mexican food. All of these things piled up on each other and I found myself not running, I ate more then I wanted, and basically I fell into the victim role.

    You are a victim when you feel that others, or your circumstances are controlling you, or that you are powerless to change the way things are going. Click here for a good link on Victim Mentality. Victim mentality is very dangerous to living healthy because it is a way of hiding from the truth, that you are in control of your body, and your choices. I chose to not run in the rain, I chose to eat as much of the dip, and enchilada, and taco's as I did. No one made these decisions for me. I have to be honest with myself, that I chose family, friends, food and drink, over eating healthy and exercising. To make it worse, when I went to bed I wanted to blame my family and friends for my choices

    The way out of the victim cycle is to acknowledge that you are in control. Then to prioritize healthy living above everything else. Exercise needs to be scheduled into my life if it is to happen. I need to think through parties ahead of time and the choices I want to make, before I have to make them. In the Battle of Living Healthy, I need to be in control, not choosing to allow others to control me. If I had run and come 30 minutes late, no one would have cared. No one was watching how much I ate. If I had been stronger, I would be feeling better about myself today, and feeling good about yourself is part of living healthy. It is worth battling for.

    Stress and the Healthy Life Style

    This morning I woke up and was struck by the thought that in all of the business of the last few weeks, I had forgotten to pay the bills. Immediately I felt my blood pressure start to rise. Thoughts of late fees, and all the fun "we will be turning off your electricity if we don't hear from you," letters, not to mention having to admit my mistake to my wife, just added to the knot in my stomach. A little bit later I was in a conversation about on of our children and the cost of something he wants to do over the summer. Again, a few more points on the stress meter. This started me thinking about the impact of stress on a persons life, and what can be done about it.

    Stress is a mental or physiological reactions to a real or perceived experience that creates exciitment or alarm. Researchers tell us that constant stress can lead to illness. Some people experience stress as a feeling of being overwhelmed or dread. Others look at it as a call to action or a challenge to rise to. We all responde to stress and feel stress in different ways. Most of us will respond with either a Fright Fight, or Flight, response. That is to say that we either get frozen by stress, like a deer caught in headlights (fright), we rise up to the situation and take it head on, (Fight), or we withdraw and find some type of coping mechanizm like eating, sleeping or finding some form of distraction from the reality that is producing the stress.

    There are many ways a person can cope with rising stress levels, and much is written on this topic. There are breathing exercises, and meditation techniques. Some people exercise to reduce the anxiety that stress produces. But ultimatly removing the stress comes with working through the situation that caused the stress to begin with.

    The reality is that if we are going to live Healthy Lives, we must find a way to deal with the stress as we experience it (and part of life is experiencing stress), and we most be willing to face the issues that create stress in our lives and find ways to resolve, solve, or deal with the situations that are affecting us. Once again, this is a battle worth fighting, if it means living healthy in an unhealthy world.

    Obesity and Me

    As I have been working on this Blog, I have had to come to grips with reality. The reality has to do with how I look, how I feel, confidence, etc.... In researching how to become healthy I have been reading a variety of articles. The toughest to read so far was on Obesity. I ran across a page with a little calculator to determine Body Mass, a tool used for a variety of purposes, but one that can also warn you if you are becoming overweight, or moving on to Obesity. A score between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. a score of 30 or higher is Obese. My score came in at 30. My reality is I am by definition Obese. That is a hard word to swallow. If your interested in determining your BMI check out American Obesity Association Web Site and punch in your numbers.

    Even tougher to deal with is the impact that obesity can have on you. Those who are obese greatly decrease their life span, are at an increased risk for Type II Diabetes, Coronary Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, and Osteoarthritis. As a Nursing Home Administrator I see the results of these diseases everyday, and I don't want to be impacted by them. Beyond the Health Issues related to Obesity there are the Social and Emotional Issues that hit. Low endurance, feelings of shame and guilt, embarrassment, can cause us to feel like pulling away from relationships that we need. Depression is high for those who are obese for many obvious reasons.

    I have just tipped the scale into Obesity and am now faced with a choice: Do I keep living the way I am living, or do I start fighting the battle to live healthy? At 180lbs and 5'11" I am no longer considered overweight. Losing 50 pounds is all it takes. If I can sidestep the above diseases and an early death it seems an easy decision to make. I am going to Battle On to become Healthy in an unhealthy world

    Your Not 18 Any More

    There I was, the sun was shining, my new running shoes were laced up, I had my wife's watch, and I was ready to blast through my 20 minute work out. I figured for a first time out I would cover a little more then 2 miles, after all, I could easily knock of 6 minute miles in college. So off I went, and after about 40 seconds I could tell I wasn't 18 any more, or 20 or even 30 for that matter. The lungs started to cry out, stop, stop. Then the legs started to protest. What was wrong, I had barley run the length of a football field and I was ready to shut down. Not the way I wanted my first workout to go. Slowing way down, my goal was to pick up my feet in something that resembled a jog for 20 minutes. It didn't matter to me that people walking were keeping pace with me, the goal was nothing short of 20 minutes. I am not sure if the batteries in my wife's watch were bad or if time just stood soon, but that was the longest 20 minutes of my life, and somehow I made it.

    It was obvious to me that my training plan might need to be adjusted. I quickly started to check out some of the experts ideas on beginning to run again. I was surprised to see that many suggested a walk/run program with more on the walking initially then the running. There were a few that said to go for it, but most said to play it safe. The benefits are slowly building up to it, reduced injury potential, less pain initially means I might stick with it. One of my favorites comes from Runners World, and is worth a look. It comes with a weekly schedule so you don't even have to think that much. Living Healthy is something that needs to be sustained over time. So rather than thinking I am 18 and getting hurt right away, I might as well act like the 43 year old I am and start out slow. Maybe slow and steady really will win the race. In this battle to be Healthy, I hope so.

    Health and Wellness Defined

    This morning as I was thinking about how I desire Health and Wellness in my life I was struck by the thought, "Do I really know what Health and Wellness are?" I have an idea, but I might be way off. My assumption is that Health has to do with the physical aspect of our lives, being able to function, free from sickness, able to make our bodies perform in the way we want. Unhealthy would be the inability to get our bodies to function or perform as we desire, or as they were meant to. Wellness would have more to do with the emotional and spiritual aspect of life. That I am OK in my relationships, outlook on life, with nature, etc....

    With this being my thoughts on Health and Wellness, I at least know what I am pursuing, and based on my simple definitions I believe Health and Wellness is worth going after in my life.

    Dictionary definitions seem to be slightly different than my own ideas. Dictionary.com states that Health is:
    1. the general condition of the body or mind with reference to soundness and vigor: good health; poor health.
    2. soundness of body or mind; freedom from disease or ailment: to have one's health; to lose one's health.

    They define Wellness as being:
    1. the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, esp. as the result of deliberate effort.
    2. an approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases.

    So both words speak to a wholeness, of body and mind together, which makes sense because if one is not functioning well you really don't have the other. Health speaks more of the condition while wellness speaks of the quality.

    That being said, in my life I want both, quality and condition of my body and mind. That is a battle worth fighting.

    Which Exercise is Best?

    Deciding to live healthy involves a number of things. One obvious area is exercise. The experts out there tell us it helps reduce stress, burns calories, helps our minds stay sharp, keeps us fit, and a number of other great benefits to numerous to list. So, sold on the idea that I need to exercise I am hit with a huge dilemma..... which exercise is right for me? There is swimming, running, tennis, basketball, karate, cycling, lifting, dancing, you name it, its out there. Team sports or individual, indoor or outdoor, expensive or low budget, there are many different choices out there.

    My process of deciding started with asking the question "What have I enjoyed doing in the past?" The idea is simple, if I enjoyed it before I might like it again. If I hated it, I probably won't like it the second time around either. If this is your first attempt at anything, then a good question might be, "What looks like fun?" Again, we are all different, for me it needs an aspect of fun or adventure my wife just needs it to accomplish the desired goal. This leads us to the second thing to think about, what is the desired goal? I have two, I need to lose about 50lbs, and I want to be fit enough to keep up with my wife as we are out hiking or doing things together. Third is what can I afford? Do I join a club, do I want expensive gear? Finally is the idea of how easy is it to do related to my schedule. Can I do it anytime, anywhere, or do I have to be someplace at a set time. I landed on something that was very flexible, didn't cost, I doesn't require me to go anywhere, and is something I have done in the past. For between $65 and $115 you can buy a great pair of running shoes and hit the trails. You set the time, and if you want to do it with others there are plenty of runners out there. I may have to start slow, but battles are won by those who stay in the fight until it is over.

    Time to put on my shoes and go.

    Your Views on Food

    Why do you eat? My wife has been a runner for almost 20 years now. Even after running a marathon and a number of Hood To Coast Relays, and at least a dozen 1/2 marathons, she doesn't think of herself as a run, but she is. She is also very disciplined when it comes to food. I on the other hand have attempted to train for a marathon, have been to Mt. Hood and the Coast, and a number of years ago ran a 5k. I am not disciplined when it comes to food.

    I was very intrigued when a few months ago we had a discussion on eating. While my wife enjoys a good meal, for her eating is about feeding the machine. She eats because it is necessary in order to do the things in her day she wants to do. Taste has very little to do with it. Very rately will she have seconds and other than a polite, "that was very good," to friends who invite over for dinner you never hear her talk about the taste or texture of a great meal. For me, food is something to experience and enjoy. Each bite brings pleasure. Getting full gets in the way of my enjoyment. I can talk about the taste of a good steak for days. I wake up thinking about Mexican food.

    Obviously we are all very different in our motivation for eating. From a healthy perspective food is about feeding the machine. If our bodies are machines, we need to make sure we are using the right types of fuel in the right combinations. There is nothing that says it can't taste good, but for me, my enjoyment of food is dangerous, and goes against my goal of trying to live healthy. I do not want to go on a diet. I want to think right about food, and eat food right.

    The Beginning

    For years I have walked by the mirror and thought to myself, "I don't look half bad. Pull in my stomach, sinch up the belt, and I am ok." Last week all the sucking it in didn't do the trick. I realized that bending down is tougher, the shirts hang away from my body, and I am not happy with that. I have stayed away from the scale for fear of what it might really reveal, and while I only weight around 230, and have for the last three years, it is all starting to look different on me. What is happening? Change in job - that has led to more stress and less time (I am a stress eater, so this is a problem). Less active - I am not out playing soccer, climbing mountains, or surfing, like I used to. Eating on the go - I am not being proactive with what I eat, instead I allow myself to be a victim of what is available or close by, like McD's or Taco Bell. So, my goal is to move back towards health. It is not about dieting, or exercise, or less stress, or less drink, or, or, or. It is about being healthy, and for me being healthy is a battle. Everything around me trys to draw me towards unhealthyness. If I am going to become healthy I have to change the way I look at myself, the world around me, and fight for what I want to be. A healthier, more energetic, fit, me. One who walks by the mirror and sees himself for who he really is. This is one man's battle and I would love to have others join me in it.