Category Archives: Personal development

A New Approach To Wellness

This week, I’m sharing a podcast episode that I believe resonates with this blog’s focus. It’s titled “A New Approach To Wellness”.

Wellness

In it, Chris Kresser discusses how a healthy diet can reverse many of the health conditions that sideline 50% of American adults.

Chronic illnesses that are preventable!

These preventable illnesses include:

  1. Heart disease
  2. Stroke
  3. Cancer
  4. Type 2 diabetes
  5. Obesity

I firmly believe that these illnesses can be prevented, reversed, and eliminated by what I refer to as “The Health Triad”.

Wellness

This is where nutrition, exercise, and sleep become the foundation to a healthy lifestyle that’s focused on longevity and vitality. Instead of inactivity and instant gratification.

Great health & wellness only happens when you have a long-term vision, and blend consistency with healthy habits that get results.

Or, on rare occasions when a medical emergency strikes (as a result of facing one of the 5 preventable illnesses due to years of neglect), and you’re forced to make significant lifestyle changes.

But unfortunately, this isn’t even enough of a motivator to make those necessary changes, many times.

If better health & vitality interests you, then you’ll find a wealth of information and takeaways here. And I hope you learn from and enjoy this wellness podcast as much as I did.

Here’s the link:

A New Approach To Wellness podcast

And if you’d like to learn more about Chris Kresser, go to www.chriskresser.com.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

This Is The End…

This is the endor is it? I guess it all depends on how you look at it. Is it over, or the start of something awesome?

That’s up to you to decide.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s only the beginning.

Why am I asking this question?

Well, we just completed our “6 Pillars To Better Health & Vitality” program and I’m curious how you’re feeling.

It’s time to turn the page. This is a new chapter. Are you on track, or do you need to catch up?

Some of you are celebrating the completion of a successful program, and continuing on your journey. While others are lamenting because they gave up too soon and didn’t follow through.

Which one describes you?

Either way, you have results to validate your level of commitment.

Better health & vitality

But today is a new day. And it’s never too late to start. Or to continue on the trail you’re blazin’ to better health & vitality.

Stop searching for “quick fix” and get to work. You can do this.

We all have one life to live, and plenty of opportunities to get it right. There’s no time to worry about past mistakes; only a need to learn from them and move on.

We can’t stop the clock. And there’s no turning back.

There’s only one thing to do. And the time to do it is now.

So stop thinking about it, and…

Better health & vitalityWe are 100% responsible for our choices, actions, and decisions.

There is no room or need for excuses. Besides, excuses just make you look lazy and weak.

So don’t go there. Instead, decide on one element to focus on for better health & vitality, and start doing something about it. Today!

Need some ideas?

How about:

  • Increasing the amount of water you drink.
  • Exercising 3 days a week.
  • Getting 8 hours of sleep every night.
  • Cleaning up your eating habits.
  • Walking 10,000 steps a day.
  • Consuming higher quality, nutrient dense calories.
  • Meditating for 10 to 15 minutes.

Pick one and stick with it for a month or two. Make it a habit, then add another one.

Piece of cake… No, check that (sorry, poor choice of words).

Easy, right?

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

Been There, Done That. Now Don’t Get Tripped Up…

This week, we wrap up this month’s habit on “calories”, which completes our “6 Pillars To Better Health & Vitality” program. In this final post, I’d like to show you where it’s easy to get tripped up when you’re trying to make healthier choices.

It’s a common problem, and it derails far too many people.

And don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you there. We’ll discuss ideas to help you avoid these obstacles so you can stay on track for better health, despite the challenges along your journey.

But first, I want to share an alarming statistic.

It’s been widely reported that excess abdominal fat puts added stress on the heart, which increases the likelihood of heart failure.

6 pillars program

In a recent analysis involving 12 studies and more than 360,000 people, they found that every 4-inch increase in waist size ‘added’ a 29% chance of heart failure.

WOW!!! That sounds painful. And preventable.

There’s no way I’m going to let my gut put me in an early grave. Or cause me to have my chest cracked open.

Sure seems like an incentive to change a few habits, doesn’t it?

Personally, I’d rather eat right and exercise than have that hanging over me. How about you?

I think Jim Rohn said it best… “There are two types of pain you will go through in life. The pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”

Let me help you find a way to eliminate this.

Plenty of things are vying for our attention… like friends, family, and co-workers. Busy schedules, work demands, hobbies, and personal commitments. And how about social media, smartphone notifications, the media, and of course our thoughts, just to name a few.

Your list may be longer. And in most cases, aside from the good that you may gain from some of them, these “attention grabbers” usually result in one thing.

They’re a distraction!

More accurately, they can disrupt your plans and interfere with your health & wellness initiative (if you allow them to).

The point being, when you’re trying to make healthier choices and build better habits, it’s easy to get tripped up when life happens and distractions occur, despite your good intentions.

You intend to eat something nutritious, but you’re on the run and short on time. So you grab a highly processed snack because it’s fast and easy; instead of eating the macronutrient-rich meal or snack you planned for.

You think, “At least it says ‘low fat’; or ‘lightly sweetened’; or ‘organic’… So it must be okay.”

Maybe it’s a power bar or a sports drink. That’s good for you, right? Not exactly!

Or worse, you stop at a drive-thru. NOOOoooo!!!

Here are some ways and places where your nutrition and exercise plans could be compromised.

  • A hectic work schedule
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Vacation
  • Business trips
  • Family functions
  • Going out with friends
  • Holidays
  • Late nights
  • Old habits
  • Running behind schedule
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Deceptive marketing

Or just fill in the                       .

Think about what trips you up. Your Achilles Heel.

OK, now that you’ve thought about it, what can you do?

How can you take control, at least most of the time?

6 pillars program

I have some ideas. 10 to be exact…

See if any of these can help:

  1. Keep snacks with you. For example, I like to keep bags of nuts on hand. Like at my desk, in my car, and in laptop bag. And fresh fruit and veggies for the day while I’m on the road.
  2. Prepare and pack those snacks in advance to grab on the run. Otherwise, spare a few extra minutes before you leave to get them together. And remember your water too.
  3. Brown bag it. This makes your lunch decision easy and healthy. And it will probably save you a few bucks too.
  4. Eat before you go out. Yep, especially if you’re going to a function, a party, or even dinner. This way you’ll have had something nutritious and won’t be starving. Which could cause you to opt for less healthy choices. Then you can just “pick” while you’re out.
  5. Eat to 80% full. Your brain will catch up with your stomach if you give it a few minutes. And you’ll feel much better. Think about those times when you think or say “I’m so full”, or “I ate too much”. How do you feel during those moments?
  6. Avoid fast food like poison. I know it’s difficult sometimes when you’re out. It seems like 90% of your ‘options’ are garbage when you’re trying to eat clean. And they are unfortunately! That’s where the first 3 or 4 tips above can help.
  7. Don’t let 5 + 2 = 0. This is where you work hard to stay on track all week, only to throw it all away on the weekend. Late nights and some alcohol will usually sabotage your efforts. I’m not suggesting that you avoid having fun. Just trying to bring awareness to a vicious cycle that can leave you wondering why nothing is working. But it’s one you can easily fix.
  8. Get balanced. Aim for 50% carbs, 30% protein, and 20% fat with every meal. Opt for quality – complex or fibrous carbs, lean protein, and healthy fat whenever possible.
  9. Strive for 95, as Carol Merlo puts it. Stop chasing perfection, and beating yourself up when you fall short. Perfection isn’t practical so set your sights on getting it right 95% of the time. And lighten up a little. Go for progress, not perfection.
  10. Learn from feedback. Mistakes and failure are both good things if you learn from them. And these are usually our most valuable and memorable lessons. So, don’t be afraid. Instead, relax and embrace these teachable moments.

6 pillars program

As we wrap up the last post of our 6 Pillars program, I want to say thank you. Especially to our pilot group students.

Those of you who stuck with the 6 Pillars program have met or exceeded your weight loss goals. You’ve learned some valuable lessons and have built sustainable habits that are now part of you and your new healthy lifestyle.

And remember, even if you didn’t reach your goal yet, you’ve come a long way. Because you have the results to prove it. Nice work!

If you participated in the 6 Pillars program as a loyal follower of this blog, I am extremely grateful. And I congratulate you as well. I’m proud of you. And you should be too.

And finally, thanks goes out to everyone for keeping me accountable.

Let me know how the 6 Pillars program helped you. I’d love to hear:

  • What was most beneficial?
  • And most challenging?
  • What do you struggle with?
  • And what was your “a ha” moment?

Your feedback is always greatly appreciated.

If you’re new to us and would like to learn about the 6 Pillars program, and how to incorporate these 6 healthy habits into your life, you can link back to the first post of the series here.

And I’d like to ask one final…

6 pillars program

Who do you know that could benefit from a life-changing transformation in their health & wellness? I’m building a waiting list for another 6 Pillars pilot program.

So let me know, or share this.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

Fear is a Liar!

Healthy choices

The “unknown” can be fearful. But thanks to technology, we all have access to a wealth of information at our fingertips. Yet some unscrupulous companies still market by fear. I am here to tell you that fear is a liar!

Don’t buy into it or fall for it.

Remember the classic Blue Oyster Cult song Don’t Fear The Reaper? It was based on the inevitability of death, and the belief that we shouldn’t fear it.

And I agree, we shouldn’t fear death. But we should make better choices… now. And do whatever we can to live a long, healthy, happy, prosperous, and active life.

Let me ask, do you know anyone who is afraid of things?

Like heights, flying, speaking in public? Or perhaps, failure…?

How about when it comes to food?

No, not broccoli or Brussel sprouts. I’m referring to anyone that fears carbohydrates. Or fat. And then avoids them because they believe (carbs or fat) is what’s causing them to be overweight.

I hope you’re not one of them!

I’m not either, but it pisses me off to hear someone say it! Mainly because it’s so wrong, and they’re so uninformed.

But “supposed” authorities will lead you to believe this untruth to promote their agenda, book, supplements, or new “magic” claim.

Your body CANNOT survive without ALL 3 macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates and fat. So don’t believe it when you’re told that you should eliminate any of them.

Here’s my take. It’s all about how you look at it. Carbs are not bad. But some are better for you than others. And there are some you should consider avoiding altogether. Especially if you need to lose weight and get in shape.

Why?

They’re just not going to help you achieve your goal.

So go for the healthier, more nutrient-dense carbs. Like raw or steamed veggies, fresh fruits, and whole instead of refined grains. And avoid the less healthy, highly processed options. Like food that comes in a box. Or pizza, pasta, and chips or other junk snacks.

Healthy choices

The same can is true for fat and protein as well. Focus on the healthiest and highest quality choices.

Last week I made a comment about how the quality of your calories matters. For example, bagels and broccoli are both carbs. But one is clearly better than the other. So the takeaway is to eat more “broccoli-type” fibrous carbs, and ease up on the bagels.

So, if you were planning to have a mid-afternoon snack, you could:

  • Eat an apple with a scoop of peanut butter and a bottle of water.
  • Have a bag of chips with onion dip and a can of diet soda.
  • Grab a Snickers and a Snapple out of the vending machine.
  • Stop by McDonalds for a cheeseburger, fries, and a small soda.
  • Have a cup of coffee and a cigarette.
  • Skip the snack, become ravenous, stop by happy hour for a beer, catch a buzz, then overeat at dinner.

Are these recommendations? Except for the first one, NO!

The point being, you can approach your nutrition in many ways. And the quality of the contents that you’re “fueling” your body with will have an impact in the short and long term.

Like your energy level and productivity in the next few hours. And down the road with your waistline, heart health, and longevity.

Hey, it’s the Compound Effect in its simplest form. And it’s always at work, either for or against us. Based on what we do or don’t do. So doesn’t it make more sense to delay gratification and begin to make better choices that will produce significant results in the future?

And I can’t help but make another blatantly obvious point. Since the quality of our calories matters, it’s essential to fuel our body with the highest quality “macros” to ensure the compound effect is working in our favor.

For example, good quality fibrous and starchy carbs should typically make up 50% of our daily calories.

It’s obvious that you’ll benefit way more from snacking on a plate of raw veggies with hummus instead a bagel with cream cheese. Or yogurt with fresh fruit instead of a slice of pie. How about a handful of nuts instead of a candy bar? Even if the candy has nuts in it…

And we need to let healthy fat make up at least 20% of our daily calories.

Yes, even if you’re overweight and trying to slim down. Healthy fat and Omega 3 fatty acids (mostly found in certain cold water fish) are your friend, and not to be avoided.

So consider snacking on a small cup of olives instead of chips and salsa. Or a handful of nuts or seeds instead of a few cookies. How about some olive oil with fresh lemon juice as a salad dressing instead of the creamy ‘whatever’ option?

The devil is in the details… And your choices matter! For you, and for those around you.

Healthy choicesIf you’re thinking, “C’mon John!, pick up the pace and tell us something we don’t already know”. Then I have to ask, “If this is so basic, then…”

  • Why are vending machines still around?
  • Why are there SO MANY fast food joints?
  • Why are supermarkets so stocked with junk food?
  • Why are two-thirds of us over-weight?
  • Why are healthy lunch choices so difficult to find, unless you bring your own?

Obviously, it’s because too many people are still buying this crap! And it needs to STOP!

It blows my mind that people can be so lazy, unaware, and neglectful about their health & wellness?

This is the ONE and ONLY body we get to drive.

Each of us are unique and amazing miracles! We have ONE lifetime to work it out. And that one lifetime affords us so many chances and opportunities to get it right.

But the clock is ticking…

Healthy choicesSo WTF are you waiting for???

Getting back to my initial comments about fearing things. Like carbs and fats. Here’s what I think more people should be afraid of:

  • Sugar.
  • Fast food.
  • Processed food.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Being over-weight.
  • A sedentary lifestyle.
  • Heart disease, including a heart attack.
  • Stroke.
  • Cancer.
  • Cigarettes.
  • Having to rely on prescription drugs.
  • Dying too young because you didn’t take better care of yourself.

Most or all of this could be prevented with better nutrition and exercise. And it all starts with the choices we make, which influence the habits we build, and impacts the disciplines we develop. You have more control over your future than you possibly realize.

So it may be that the enemy within is your choices. And the result of your ignorance (or laziness) about nutrition and exercise.

Or your preference to “coast” down the comfortable and easy road instead of the one less traveled. BTW, there’s only one way to coast – just sayin’

Know that YOU can change your direction. The ball is in your court.

And please, please, please…

Don’t buy into extreme or highly restrictive diets. Stay away from quick fix claims. Like lose 30 pounds in 30 days. These DIETS are not sustainable. And the odds are stacked against you.

Unfortunately, you’ll eventually end up gaining it all back. And then some, which is even worse.

And finally, stay away from gimmicks, like what I am about to show you below. You’ve gotta check this out. It’s freakin’ unbelievable!!!

Healthy choices

Whatever you do, DON’T buy this crap!

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

“Have It Your Way”

Eating clean

“Have it your way, have it your way…”.

Remember that slogan from 30 years ago? Can ‘ya hear it?

And no, I’m not suggesting that you go to Burger King. That would be a ridiculous recommendation.

Eating clean

But their slogan is relevant for today’s advice.

In today’s fast-paced society, eating in restaurants has become a regular occurrence. Especially when you consider the potential of at least 3 meals a day, and the number of hours most people work. The odds that you will eat out at least a few times a week are very high.

Which can become a BIG problem.

One that slowly compounds over time if you’re not careful.

I find it astonishing to see the food choices that people make. And especially for dinner. No, not kids. I’m talking about adults.

Things like mac ‘n cheese, nachos, fried mozzarella, quesadillas, deep dish pizza, bacon cheeseburger with fries, wings or sliders, a full rack of baby back ribs, or Alfredo and other heavy, creamy sauces.

Not sure if it’s due to a lack of knowledge, laziness, or simply neglect. I try not to be judgmental, but it’s worrisome.

If you consider a greasy app, a large entrée, and maybe even dessert, it’s a lot of food. Add a couple drinks to the mix and…

You’re easily over 2,500 calories.

For ONE MEAL.

For most, that’s a whole day of calories. Not to mention all the unhealthy salt, sugar, and artery clogging saturated fat.

It’s disgusting! And should be illegal.

What if this happens 3 times a week? Or more…

Eating clean

You better loosen your belt, then rethink your strategy.

Is it any wonder why this reckless approach to eating is causing obesity rates to rise? Or medical insurance costs to skyrocket?

And the restaurants aren’t helping.

If you look at the menu choices, you could make the argument that it’s not your fault. Unfortunately, that’s not an acceptable response.

Eating clean is YOUR responsibility.

You’ve got to be more vigilant! And it’s what we’ll cover in this post.

If you are trying lose weight, or just maintaining good health, you are best served to completely avoid restaurants as much as possible.

Whaaaat??? Why?

When you cook at home, you know exactly what you are including. And you can scale back, like on salt for example. Or you can substitute a healthier ingredient, like olive oil instead of butter. Or brown rice instead of white. Salmon instead of steak…

I like to experiment and so I’m always looking for ways to eat healthier. My new “go-to” whole grain is farro. It’s easy to prepare, tastes great, and it’s super-healthy. I highly recommend it!

When restaurants list the calorie total on their menu, I appreciate it. I don’t necessarily trust the amounts, but it’s a point of reference. And better than no info at all. At the very least, it can help you make an informed decision about your food selection.

Including what NOT to order.

Let’s look at some “common” examples. WARNING: These are real.

Eating clean

The recommended “average” daily calorie requirements for adults is 2,000 to 2,500. But actual amounts vary based on your height, gender, age, and activity level.

Government organizations like the Food and Drug Administration have established daily intake recommendations about calories, sodium and sugar to help us maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The daily recommendation of sodium intake according to the FDA is no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg), which is equivalent to one teaspoon. And the recommended daily amount of added sugar intake was reduced 50% in 2014 to 25 grams, or about 6 teaspoons.

This doesn’t mean you should aim for the upper limits. Especially with sodium and sugar.

As far as I’m concerned, these are simply benchmarks to be aware of.

Sure, the FDA plays an important role in keeping us all safe. But I’ll never strive to be average and comply with recommendations that cater to the masses. Instead, do your best to minimize or eliminate salt, sugar and white flour from your daily nutrition.

Here are some other suggestions to help your eating clean initiative:

  1. Eat a little something before you go out – to dinner, to a party, or to a function where food will be served. Like a handful of nuts, an apple or other fruit, some raw veggies with hummus, or left-overs from last night’s dinner. Why? So you won’t be ravenous when you arrive, which can lead to bad food choices and unhealthy eating. Especially if you’re planning to have a cocktail or two.
  2. Skip the appetizers. You will have enough food between your entrée and a salad. And you don’t need the extra calories and unhealthy fat (as most of these apps are fried or greasy).
  3. Say no to the bread. Ask them to “not” bring it over. It will only tempt you, so make it easier by not having it in front of you.
  4. Ask for salad dressing on the side. Use “sparingly” to save  calories.
  5. Eat a little less than you normally would at home since the calories and sodium are higher. Save the rest for tomorrow. You’ll save calories and money by stretching 2 meals out of 1.
  6. Have it your way. Healthy of course. Ask to have something specially prepared. Most restaurants will do this if you ask. For example, ask for grilled chicken or fish without any heavy sauces or creams. With a side of steamed or sautéed veggies. And a sweet or baked potato, or brown rice. Even if they charge you a little more (which they probably won’t), it’s well worth it. After all, we are talking about you and your health.
  7. When a dish comes with fries, ask for an “alternative”. Like salad, fresh fruit, a baked potato, or steamed veggies.
  8. Avoid dessert. Except for special occasions. For the same reasons as skipping the apps.
  9. Strive for 95. Percent that is. Nobody’s perfect. And every situation is different. So try to make the best possible choice given the situation you’re in. And enjoy it!

Now let’s assume you have a busy schedule, but you commit to  eating in; not out. How can you make eating clean easier and save time while still making something delicious and healthy?

Oh, that’s easy.

There are 3 things you can do…

  1. Plan. Decide what you will eat tomorrow or for the next few days. Then go buy the ingredients, build in some prep time, and make it.
  2. Prep. For the next few days, or week (in advance). Sunday’s are great for this.
  3. Cook extra. This way you can just heat up what you want when you’re ready to eat it again. For example, grill extra chicken for the week, or slice raw veggies and store in zip lock bags to grab on the run. And do the same with nuts and seeds.

Eating clean will require minor tweaks to your current eating habits.

Eating cleanAnd in addition to planning, prepping, and eating out less… add these 5 things to your new strategy:

  1. Eat more whole foods, including an apple a day.
  2. Avoid sugar (start by cutting back).
  3. Minimize sodium and saturated fat.
  4. Eat every few hours.
  5. Hit your “macro” ratios at every meal and snack.

It takes thought and effort to eat clean. More so than the alternative unhealthy choices that are typically made unconsciously or hastily while flying through life on “auto-pilot”.

Eating clean also includes paying attention to things that could be sabotaging your new healthy initiative. Like saying NO to processed junk snacks and eliminating fast food.

You can do this… Start now and you’ll never look back!

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

You Are Here

Where do you appear on the “You Are Here” map in your life?

Influence

I know, this is an ambiguous question. You could be thinking about your career, relationships, or financial situation.

You may not be considering your health & wellness in this context, though. But I am, so let me be more specific

I’d like to explore your “unknown” future together. So YOU can see what YOU have to look forward to.

And know where the current path is leading you?

…based on the choices you’re making, the habits you’re building, and the disciplines you’re developing?

I know what you’re thinking… “You can’t predict the future”. And in some ways, I would have to agree with you. You’re right!

But here’s where I have to respectfully disagree with that thinking. You may not be able to predict the future, but you certainly have the control to influence your future.

But here’s the question. Are you going to influence your future in a good or a bad way?

There’s that “compound effect” phenomenon again. Thanks Darren!

It’s like the Energizer Bunny. Always working, whether you realize it or not. And “still going”.

Hopefully, today’s choices are setting you up for an active lifestyle, with great health and happiness, well into the future.

Otherwise, you could be startled to find yourself facing the Grim Reaper around some dark corner when you least expect it.

And you know what he’s known for.

Right! Death, destruction, and ultimate sadness.

Influence

So I have to ask, what’s around the corner for you in the next year?

Is that number on the scale (looking back at you) where you want it to be? And is it representative of your current choices?

What about your overall health, including how you look and feel?

Good or bad, can you see how the choices you’ve made over the past year are compounding for or against you?

How about looking down the road, like at the next 5, 10, or 20 years?

Want to look out even further? I do!

The long-term effect of consistently making bad choices is where the Grim Reaper begins to rear its ugly head. These unhealthy habits eventually morph into some nasty diseases and conditions like:

  • A heart attack
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity due to consistent weight gain
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Sleep apnea
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Chronic pain
  • Cancer
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Depression
  • And early preventable death

Bad stuff we each have control over delaying, preventing, or avoiding. So don’t wait until it’s too late!

NOW is the time to influence your future.

Just like saving, investing, and contributing to our retirement accounts when we’re younger will ensure an enjoyable and gratifying retirement. You are saving for your retirement, right?

That’s a different topic, but the same is true about our future health and well-being. We need to make deposits into our “health” account now, if we expect to influence our longevity in a positive way.

None of us are getting any younger. And just like retirement savings, healthy aging doesn’t happen by accident! I don’t care how good your genes are.

We are 3 months into our 6 Pillars To Better Health & Vitality program. I hope you are learning and benefiting from this valuable content. It’s based on a few proven and sustainable habits that can be easily incorporated into your busy life.

In fact, I’d like to give a shout out to my pilot group. I’m running a small 6 Pillars “pilot” program with about 20 students that includes private group coaching.

Influence

And I’m happy to report that everyone is benefiting. Although each person has different goals, we are seeing fantastic results as new healthy habits are being built and maintained!

Kudos and congratulations to each of you! Keep working hard.

Your consistent efforts will continue to pay off and compound into massive results that will last a lifetime!

If you need to catch up, you can link back to the first 3 Pillars here:

Next week we will launch into our 4th Pillar. And this habit is at the top of my Health Triad, which is fully integrated with nutrition.

I hope you are as eager and hungry to dig into this one as I am!

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

What Motivates You To Exercise?

So what motivates you to exercise? We’ll unpack this further today.

motivation

Learning about it is important. But taking action is paramount!

As we wrap up Habit # 2 (and reach the milestone of our 100th post), I want to make sure that you understand the value of exercise.

And break your sedentary lifestyle, if that describes you. Or help you maintain this essential habit if it’s something you’re already doing.

But let’s first address a common problem that everyone faces from time to time. We can assign several labels to it. And whether you’re a fitness veteran, or a beginner, we can all relate.

What’s the problem?

You can say it has something to do with accountability, commitment, and responsibility. And they affect us differently. So let’s take a closer look at 3 variations.

  1. Motivation. You know this feeling if you’re a fitness veteran. When you just don’t feel like going to the gym. And you look for reasons to justify why you shouldn’t, or don’t need to… ‘today’.
  2. Getting started. If exercise is new to you, then you simply need to show up and start moving. You may not want to go, but haven’t earned the right to call this a motivation issue yet.
  3. Getting re-started. And if you’ve ever taken any time off from your exercise routine and tried to get back to it, then you can understand and appreciate this issue. It’s kind of a combination of the first two.

All 3 of these relate to breaking a commitment that we’ve made to ourselves. Dodging responsibility.

Has this ever turned into a negotiation for you?

Inside your head, between you and you?

I have to admit. Been there, done that.

Actually, I’m not sure that you can even call it a negotiation since you’re working both sides of the argument.

And here’s the worst part – you can’t win. So stop the madness.

motivation

If you Google “motivation”, you’ll soon discover that it can be quite a complex topic. Involving behavior, and the psychology of what’s behind our actions that result in the decisions we make.

I’m going to attempt to keep it simple here. I think we’ve all heard of the carrot and stick. How about the desire to gain pleasure vs. the need to avoid pain? Same concept. Or how about intrinsic (internal) motivation vs. extrinsic (external) motivation?

In some situations, you may find that you’re more intrinsically motivated. For example, you’ve signed up for a course because you believe it will help you advance your career. You’re internally driven to complete the course because of the future potential it holds.

How about entering a competition where your results will be compared with other participants? Or the potential of a reward for achieving a sales goal (monetary, recognition, etc.). And you discover that in this situation, your drive is more extrinsically focused.

Whether you’re internally or externally motivated for a given task doesn’t matter as much as it does to recognize it. And more importantly, knowing why you’re doing this and what it will mean to you to accomplish it.

Your “why-power” is powerful, and necessary if you want to make it past the finish line.

Your WHY is vitally important for:

  • staying focused on the long-term picture.
  • keeping you accountable when your motivation wanes.
  • helping you stay on-track when setbacks take you off-track.
  • overcoming obstacles that cause you to want to throw in the towel.

We all face challenges, and no one is perfect. As we gain a better understanding of our own strengths and weaknesses, or disciplines and temptations, we can prepare ourselves to handle things that are thrown our way. Including those that can trip us up.

If you are currently exercising, accountability and motivation challenges can rear their ugly head from time to time. And they can be caused by anything.

For example, you may get derailed:

  • during a plateau, when results appear to be non-existent.
  • when long hours at work consume most of your waking hours.
  • if you’re stressed from life’s demands and it starts taking a toll on you.
  • after an injury, sickness, vacation, or extended time off from your normal routine.
  • when your workout gets boring, or no longer challenges you the same as it once did.
  • if chronic pain flares up.
  • [Insert your reason.]

If exercise is new to you, or it’s been years since you’ve worked out, getting started may represent your biggest challenge. But you may also have to deal with:

  • a weak, uninspiring goal.
  • laziness from being sedentary.
  • uncertainty about what to do (or how to get started).
  • insecurity, fear of the unknown, or a lack of confidence.
  • lack of interest, indicating the need for a stronger WHY.
  • initial soreness and muscle fatigue that keeps you sidelined.
  • expecting too much, too soon.
  • [Insert your reason.]

Realize that these are all normal occurrences. They happen to everyone. It’s part of being human.

But it’s also exciting and motivating to overcome these challenges when you’re faced with them. So it’s best to be aware, and prepare.

Here are some suggestions. You can hire a personal trainer for a few sessions, recruit an exercise buddy, mix up your routine a bit, or set shorter term mini goals to recognize incremental results along the way.

Or try exercising at a different time, like in the evening if morning is your normal routine. You may find that you enjoy the time change occasionally, and may even get a different result.

Here’s where a strong “why” comes to your aid. Forget about willpower. To overcome inactivity, you need strong reasons why you want to (and should)exercise. Along with what it will mean to you when you do.

And when you need a little extra motivation, take a page out of Nike’s playbook and “Just Do It!”.

Or, just stay home. Yes, that’s right. Take the day off.

Once in a while is okay. This could be your body giving you a signal that it needs a break. Only you can judge this. Just don’t let it become a habit.

Ok, let’s put exercise motivation aside for a minute, and look at this from a different perspective.

motivation

If you choose to not exercise, or haven’t exercised in years for whatever reason, we need to talk. I’m not here to pick on you. And I am certainly not here to judge. But I am here to help you recognize the necessity and the value of exercise.

And find a way to get you to take action.

While there is no guarantee that exercise helps you live a longer more active and enjoyable life, there is plenty of evidence and medical data which shows that it does.

In fact, exercise has been proven to provide numerous health benefits. We discussed some of them 2 weeks ago. You can link back here.

But in this post, I am not going to focus on the benefits again. I’d prefer to look at it from the ‘other side’ to see if I can entice you to reconsider exercise.

There’s plenty of proof that’s been gathered from people who avoid exercise and make bad food choices. After years of abuse and neglect, you’ll find many of them in hospitals and cemeteries.

By NOT exercising, you run the risk of:

  • Gaining weight (and getting fat).
  • Becoming depressed and unhappy.
  • Having a stroke or heart attack.
  • Developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Falling and breaking something.
  • Dying earlier than necessary.
  • ‘nuf said?

motivationThis is not a scare tactic. But feel free to use it as one if it gets you to start moving.

We have one body and one life.

It’s a gift that we should cherish, take seriously, and take care of.

Any questions?

Next week we’ll tone it down a little as we launch our 3rd Pillar. If you’re working hard and you’re feeling the burn, you’ll appreciate next month’s habit.

In the meantime, get some exercise and keep drinking plenty of water.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

Exercise For Longevity

Welcome to Pillar 2! This week we introduce the second healthy habit of our program – exercise. If you participated in Habit 1, I’d like to congratulate you for completing this first vital habit.

Habits help you exercise for longevity

In case you’re just joining us, we are launching 6 healthy habits to help you get into the best shape of your life. One new habit every month, from January to June.

You can link back to the first habit here.

But you may be wondering…

“One habit per month? Why are we taking it so slow?”

Here’s why

Habits can be difficult to develop, especially when life gets in the way. I want to make it as easy as possible for you to succeed. By giving you the gift of focus and time to reinforce each new habit.

For month 2 we will add exercise to your routine. It’s an essential part of your healthy lifestyle.

In addition to making you look and feel great, you will become stronger and leaner when you exercise for longevity.

I’d also like you to consider the additional benefits. Exercise will

  • burn fat and build muscle.
  • reduce stress and improve your mood.
  • improve your heart and cardiovascular functions.
  • increase blood flow to your brain and improve cognition.
  • prevent heart attacks, stroke and high blood pressure.
  • strengthen bones and improve balance as you age.
  • prevent or reverse nasty diseases like type 2 diabetes.
  • improve your focus, creativity, and productivity.
  • get you into fantastic shape, if done right.
  • help you lose or maintain weight.
  • reduce anxiety and depression.

And the benefits of exercise don’t stop here.

The two primary forms of exercise that we will cover include strength and cardio training. This week’s focus will be on the strength part. Strength-training (aka resistance training or weight lifting) becomes even more important as we age.

It’s been proven that our muscles, bones, circulatory and respiratory systems all benefit from strength-training. But despite this fact, not enough people include it in their weekly exercise routine.

Reasons vary but include limited knowledge of what to do, a lack of discipline, and a concern about becoming too bulked up with big muscles. Like this guy…

Why does Arnold exercise for longevity

Ok, so I have to ask. Was this your first thought when I mentioned strength-training? Were you afraid you would bulk up like Arnold?

Be honest…

Take a deep breath. Relax. And don’t worry. You will never look like this. Even if you spent 3 hours a day in the gym, 6 days a week.

So let’s eliminate that concern right up front. Unless it’s your goal and you consume large amounts of performance enhancing drugs.

Otherwise, you don’t have to worry. Go train hard with confidence.

If you’re new to exercise, body weight exercises like the ones covered in the Accelerate Your Weight-Loss post can become your initial workout for the first month or two as you acclimate your body to exercise, based on your fitness level.

It’s best to take it slow in the beginning.

You will also need to change the order of these 6 exercises to suit your muscle groups better.

For example, start with push-ups. Then move to squats, mountain climbers, lunges, planks, and high knee pull-downs. And then go for at least 3 sets.

During the first month, you should not be concerned with intensity, or results. Instead, shift your focus to learning the exercises and practicing good form.

After you graduate to weights, you can perform one set of this “accelerate your weight-loss” routine as your pre-workout warmup.

Exercise for longevityAfter the first month or two, your strength-training routine will continue to target the major muscle groups including your legs, chest, back, shoulders, arms, and core.

I strongly suggest that you hire a certified personal trainer (CPT) at your local gym. Especially if strength-training is new to you.

CPT’s possess the skills to help people with different physical abilities and fitness levels by customizing the right exercises that enable you to achieve maximum results.

In addition, the one-on-one interaction ensures that you’re learning the proper technique and doing the exercises in good form. Even if it’s only for a few sessions.

Tom Venuto, former bodybuilder and best-selling author suggests using dumbbells when you’re just starting out. Dumbbells are easy to handle and you can use them in the gym or at home.

Dumbbells encourage equal development on each side of your body, and they’re safer. Especially if you’re training alone. I personally include them in my strength-training sessions.

Burn the fat feed the muscle teaches you to exercise for longevity

By the way, I highly recommend his book Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle if you want to get in shape, the natural way through exercise and good nutrition.

Not only is Tom an expert in his field, he offers great insight and devotes a section to specific exercises in his 28-day plan. You’ll learn about the 10 biggest weight training myths, and how weight training helps you get leaner.

So let’s recap.

  • This month’s healthy habit is exercise.
  • This week’s homework involves starting a strength-training plan.
  • If you are new to exercise, spend the first month or two getting your body acclimated by doing body-weight exercises. Click here for suggestions.
  • After your first month or two of body-weight exercises, it’s time to start strength-training with weights. Preferably with dumbbells, 2 to 3 days per week.
  • Refer to Tom Venuto’s 28-day plan (TNB-28) in Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle.
  • You should hire a certified personal trainer (CPT) to match your physical abilities and fitness level with the right exercises.
  • And there’s no need to be intimidated by big muscles or physically fit people. You have your own goals and abilities. Focus on what you want! And work towards achieving it.

Disclaimer: Whenever starting a new exercise plan or nutrition program, you should always consult a doctor.

And finally, here’s a brief list of resources to help you exercise for longevity:

In the meantime, keep reinforcing your water habit by drinking more water as you begin to exercise for longevity.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

Stop Being So Sweet

I hope you’re still thirsty for more information, and water.

Still thirsty for more water

In this final segment of our first healthy habit, we’ll look at the impact that “sweetness” is having on your weight-loss initiative, and overall health & wellness.

From processed table sugar to artificial sweeteners.

stop being so sweet

The point is not to pick on anyone with a sweet tooth or sugar addiction. But last week’s concept of adding a little flavor to your water so you can drink more inspired this post.

I’d also like to look at the “sugar-free” craze that’s been promoted and popularized for too many years. And the side effects of relying on anything sugar-free as a crutch in your nutrition plan.

Sugar-free beverages and processed food crap is SABOTAGING your weight-loss efforts.

This has created a serious problem that’s not limited to the diet soft drink you have with lunch. But also includes those colorful little packets like Splenda, Equal, NutraSweet, and Sweet ‘N Low (to name a few), that you add to other things you consume throughout the day.

But before we go any further, let’s start by understanding a little more about sugar, which is also referred to as “added” sugar.

The American Heart Association sets daily intake guidelines by the teaspoon and total calories.

They allow up to 6 teaspoons per day for women, or about 90 calories. And up to 9 teaspoons for men, or about 135 calories.

But you shouldn’t go for the max here. Less than the recommended amount or none is better. Here’s why

Say not to sugar

Consider this, a teaspoon or an equivalent sugar packet contains 4 grams and about 15 calories.

I know it doesn’t seem like much. But those 15 calories are truly “empty” calories with ZERO nutritional value.

And they add up quickly.

I want you to think about what this means when the nutrition label on that 20-ounce bottle of Pepsi you reach for indicates zero fat.

But if you read further, you’ll see 69 grams of sugar and 250 calories. This equates to 17 packets of sugar!

Are you freakin’ kidding me?

According to the American Heart Association, the average American consumes about 21 teaspoons per day from added sugars. Equivalent to about 330 calories.

That’s more than triple the recommended daily limit for women, and more than double the recommended for men.

And although naturally occurring sugars such as those found in fruit and some dairy products contribute to your overall sugar intake, according to dietary experts, they don’t qualify as “added” sugars.

But this doesn’t mean you should go overboard. A few servings every day is sufficient.

There are hidden dangers with added sugar. The most common is white table sugar. But added sugars also include, brown sugar, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, and dextrose.

The list goes on. And keep in mind that sugar is not only limited to desserts, candy or soda. It sneaks into some “not-so-obvious” places. Like cereals, salad dressings, so-called “healthy” sports bars and drinks, low-fat yogurt, and most cold cuts, just to name a few.

So it’s important to read your nutrition labels carefully. Or just stick to whole foods whenever possible.

Remember the vitaminwater example from last week? What you see is NOT always what you get. vitaminwater is marketed as healthy, but contains 8 packets of sugar in a 20-ounce bottle.

It’s supposed to be water! So why does it need 32 grams of sugar added to it?

I won’t even waste the time to find out if it contains any legitimate vitamins as the name claims. That’s doubtful and it doesn’t matter. You can’t even use in your car’s radiator or battery.

Okay, I’m done ranting for now.

Let’s move on to artificial sweeteners, also known as low-calorie sweeteners or sugar substitutes.

It’s obvious that artificial sweeteners are intended to add sweetness without the calories.

At first glance, these sugar substitutes appear to be a good thing. You’re not consuming all of that unhealthy sugar. And they’re supposed to help you lose weight by eliminating the extra calories.

Sounds harmless, right?

Well think again…

Although they provide taste to your food and beverages similar to table sugar, they are sometimes referred to as “intense” sweeteners because they are hundreds to thousands of times sweeter. And therein lies one of the problems.

Because artificial sweeteners are so “potent”, some studies have shown that you actually train your body to crave more sugar.

And with beverages like diet soda, you could be priming your brain to want to eat more because you’re not getting the same fullness of the sugar-sweetened version.

Fat cells act like sponges, looking to absorb more fat.

One study showed that diet soda drinkers had a 70% increase in waste circumference as compared to non-diet soda drinkers. Other studies have shown associations between artificially sweetened drinks and obesity.

Here’s a very common example: “I’ll have the bacon cheeseburger with fries please. Oh, and a large diet Coke, ‘cause I’m watching my calories.”

Sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve heard someone else order this before?

So let’s cut to the chase.

Added sugar has NO nutritional value. Our bodies don’t need it.

There’s plenty of data, both in favor of, and against the use of artificial sweeteners.

Want my suggestion?

Make a commitment to STOP using sugar altogether, as soon as possible. Real or artificial, it’s not helping you.

I realize that it may not be easy to quit cold turkey. And that you’re going to have to sacrifice a little. But your health is well worth the sacrifice, and you’ll be much better off not being so sweet.

Here are a few articles that may help you kick the habit:

Next week we introduce our 2nd pillar. I’ll give you a sneak preview – it’s about exercise.

But don’t sweat it just yet. We’re going to start slow.

If you haven’t exercised in a while, talk to your doctor first. Then you will have the opportunity to ease into this 2nd essential habit. And if you’re currently exercising, there’s plenty here for you too.

In the meantime, keep reinforcing your water habit by drinking more water.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.

What, You Don’t Like Water?

Are you drinking your recommended amount of water?

drink more water

EVERY day???

I am. I hope you are too. Remember to focus on one day at a time.

As we’ve discovered so far, water is essential to our health & wellness in so many ways. This week we will look at ways to incorporate water into our daily routine.

If you know me, you know that I have at least 1 or 2 bottles of water with me at all times. And a few in the car as backup. It’s one of the reasons that I am able to reach my daily water goal.

You can’t drink it if you don’t have it. And if it’s not in your face, it’s easy to get caught up with whatever you’re doing and forget to drink. So make it easier on yourself by keeping it with you.

My favorite brand is SmartWater because I like the taste. You may be thinking, “It’s just water. Doesn’t all water taste the same?”.

Actually no, it doesn’t.

But it’s a good thing that I also like the taste of my filtered tap water at home. Because I drink so much water, I refill quite a bit. Which helps to reduce the amount of trips to Costco, and recycling.

So taste is obviously affected when I refill, which leads to the main reason I like Smart Water. It’s the shape of the bottle.

smartwater

The 1 liter bottle is slim, which makes it easy to carry and easy to track. And it fits nicely in the cup holder in my car.

I’ve also learned to drink it when it’s warm. Not hot, just room temperature. This makes it a lot easier on you.

Think about it. If you can only drink it when it’s ice cold, then you are making it tougher on yourself to keep it with you.

So give it a shot and get used to drinking it at room temperature at times. Like when you’re on the go and can’t keep it refrigerated.

I’ve met some people that simply don’t like water. It’s hard to understand, but I get it. So what can you do if this describes you?

Plenty

But it may take some extra effort to prepare something that appeals a little more to your taste buds.

Try a squeeze of lemon, lime or orange in your water

Try a squeeze of lemon, lime or orange. Or add some cucumber or fresh mint. How about fresh berries?

Some people prefer to add some fizz by carbonating their water. So if natural water tastes too bland or you’re looking for some variety, the carbon dioxide gas will make it bubbly and tangy.

Think seltzer water; not club soda. Soda water (aka club soda) contains unnecessary sodium.

I was unable to confirm the accurateness, but I’ve read multiple sources that claim you can count 50% of the volume from coffee and tea as long as you don’t add milk and sugar.

If it helps in the beginning, then count it. But I would focus on drinking your recommended amount of water, and enjoy the coffee or tea for other reasons. And count it as a bonus.

The bottom line is this.

You need to drink a lot of water every day. And whatever helps you drink more of it, then I say go for it. If you need a little help with flavoring or bubbles, that’s fine. Drink up. Just be aware of added sugars, sodium or caffeine.

Beware of sports drinks

And beware of sports drinks. They’re marketed as healthy, but in many cases, they’re not. Our bodies need water; not Propel, Vitamin Water or other sports beverages that are full of sugar.

And unless you’re an elite athlete that needs to be concerned with fluid loss due to extreme training, you don’t have to worry about drinking Gatorade to replenish your electrolyte levels.

FYI, vitaminwater (owned by Coca Cola) contains 32 grams of added sugar in a 20-ounce bottle.

32 grams of added sugar – that’s insane!

I’m not suggesting this, but even a Snapple Iced Tea contains less added sugar. And vitaminwater is marketed as “healthy” – wth?

So the lesson here is: What you see is NOT always what you get.

Don’t judge a book by its cover… Or take what you see, hear and read at face value. Look closely and question everything. Including nutrition labels on food and beverages.

Want some help keeping track of your water intake?

There are plenty of smartphone apps.

Or, you can go analog and download a copy of Darren Hardy’s “Weekly Rhythm Register”.

Go to http://thecompoundeffect.com/downloads/english-weekly_rhythm_register.pdf and download it for free.

As we add new habits, you will find this to be a valuable tool for “tracking” your new healthy habits.

Thank you for sharing your time with me. I hope you found value.

Now it’s time for YOU to take action…

What’s your Win to be Thin? Leave a comment below.

Click here to subscribe. You’ll receive an email with a link to each new post. And if you know someone that can benefit from this content, please share it with them.