Friday, April 26, 2013

7 Habits of Healthy People

As I approach the third anniversary of my lifestyle change, it's become obvious to me that there are certain behaviors and certain things that healthy people do that we could all stand to follow.  Some of these I do, some of them I should do more of.

So with apologies to the late, great Stephen Covey, I present to you the 7 habits of healthy people:

1.) Healthy people eat all the time. It's true, I've seen it in action...and now I do it.  Healthy people realize that the body is a machine and the machine needs fuel.  You can't treat your body like a car, driving around on E all the time and only filling up at the last possible minute. If you don't eat often, then you become very hungry and desperate, which leads to poor decision-making and binge eating on unhealthy foods.

2.) Healthy people are prepared.  You have to eat every day, several times a in and day out, week in and week out.  Healthy people stock up and have food on hand. My health and wellness coach at the gym I go to sits at his desk eating peanut butter out of the jar with a banana. He wouldn't dream of not packing his lunch and neither would I.  The food has to come from somewhere and healthy people don't get it from vending machines, the drive-thru or the pizza delivery guy.

3.) Healthy people don't kill themselves in the gym.  The people I know who stay in shape do not work out 4 hours a day in the gym 10 times a week.  They have a regular schedule where they go 3 or 4 times a week, about an hour a day. Nothing crazy. This allows the healthy person to maintain a healthy weight, stay in shape and not burn out.

4.) Healthy people work exercise into their daily routine. Whether it's taking the stairs, parking far away from the store entrance, going for a walk or something else, healthy people integrate physical activity into their daily lives somehow. That way, "working out" is not the only source of physical activity. The healthy person does not drive around the Walmart parking lot for 20 minutes waiting for the magic parking spot by the front door to open (which I used to do.)

5.) Healthy people keep it simple. I love technology. But in my observations, most healthy people I know don't scan bar codes into their phones at the grocery store or walk around with a tracker all day long adding up their movements.  You don't need a special machine to work out and you don't need a smartphone app to track how much you eat. I use a pen and paper.

6.) Healthy people don't avoid the doctor. I did it for years.  I would never go to the doctor until the last possible minute.  I was always flirting with disaster and my stupidity almost cost me my life.  Healthy people go to the doctor, get checked out, get treated for any problems and keep it moving.

7.) Healthy people grocery shop a lot.  Every healthy person I know, whether it be a personal trainer, a running enthusiast or a body builder...they load up at the grocery store once in awhile. The healthy person realizes that there is nothing healthier than the food they prepare themselves, because they know what's in it.  Since healthy people get most of their food from the grocery store, dining out becomes the exception rather than the rule.

Got some to add to the list? Send me an e-mail. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

An Open Letter To The Weight Loss Industry

To the weight loss industry:

I am never sponsoring, accepting advertising from, or promoting any diet pills. Ever. There is no such thing as a "fat burning pill."  Green coffee beans are not going to do anything to make you lose weight. Ever. You should all be shut down and arrested for fraud. You are deceiving the public and promoting a quick fix that is a lie. I hate you all. Every time I see or hear an advertisement for a weight loss pill, it is an insult to me and everybody else that has worked so hard to keep weight off.

To the diet food companies. You sell a product that pretends to be something like food, except it isn't. How is somebody supposed to live on frozen dinners the rest of their life? They can't. But the dirty little secret is you don't want people to keep the weight off. It's bad for business.  The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar cartel of companies that siphons billions out of people's wallets while promising them the world and doing nothing.

To the commercial fitness industry. Really? Pizza day at the gym? News flash: most people don't even need the gym.  Maybe one day they will figure it out. You sell the lie that you can go to the gym and look like a movie star. The truth is, most people never will. And if everybody that signed up for your gym actually went to it, it would be so crowded you would be run out of business. There are legitimate gyms like the one I go to, but most of them are a scam. If you want to "work out," go for a walk. And then do it again.

To the home workout equipment industry. What a sweet scam you're running. You sell people workout equipment that winds up collecting dust and being used to dry laundry.  And what exactly does that shake weight thing do? Yet another big lie.

To the restaurant industry.  No, I am never coming back.  And no, I will never run your ads. Why? Because your "healthy options" almost never are.  Sure, it's only 500 calories...but it's loaded with enough sodium to give a rhinoceros high blood pressure. All you care about is making as much money as possible.  There's nothing wrong with that, but you don't care about anyone's health and never will.

To the big diets.  South Beach. Atkins. Sugar busters. Whoever. Your diets are all a scam.  Because the truth is the truth: you will lose weight when the total number of calories you are consuming is less than the calories you are burning.  Not before.  There is no secret plan that will fix it all for you. And no, carbohydrates do not make you fat, you idiots.

And finally, Dr. Oz.  The greatest snake oil salesman of the century. Dr. Oz brings new meaning to the phrase "there's a sucker born every day."  Dr. Oz profits from low-information TV watchers who watch his show and believe the nonsense he is pedaling. How on Earth somebody who is a medical doctor could promote so many lies day in and day out blows my mind. And yet, he knows what sells. Because people sitting at home watching TV, desperate to lose weight at all costs, will go buy whatever he is pushing. 

I don't believe in conspiracies. But what I know is that all of these thieves and scoundrels have a horrible track record and I want nothing to do with it. I have not worked for 3 years...and will have to continue to work for the rest of my keep off the 360 pounds I have lost just to sell my soul to these scumbags. 

Go away...forever.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The 2013 Cooper River Bridge Run Wrap-Up

So for the third time in as many years, I participated in the Cooper River Bridge Run, a 10K race in the city where I live, Charleston, SC.

The first year, in 2011, I weighed 400 pounds and walked it.

The second year, in 2012, I walked/ran it at 285 pounds, shaving almost an hour off my time.

This year, I had fully planned and was ready to completely run the entire thing. I had trained for it. I have run a 10K easily in my training. I have run over the bridge and back without stopping.

And then disaster struck.

3 miles into a 5 mile practice run a few weeks ago, I felt my right knee pop twice. I went to a sports medicine doctor and got the news: a torn meniscus. I am also knock-kneed and have osteoarthritis in both knees.

I was told I should not run again and if I continued, knee replacements were in my future. So. What to do?

I had three choices:
-Ignore the doctor's advice and run the bridge and run it hard, going out of my running career in a "blaze of glory." This would allow me to fulfill my dream and get a good time. This was also the worst option. In all likelihood, I would've injured myself and made my knees worse.
-Drop out entirely. Just give up, don't do it.
-Go anyway and walk. So I chose option #3.

My final time: 1 hour, 53 minutes and 5 seconds. My goal was under 2 hours and I made my goal. I did it and my knees felt fine afterward!

So where do I go from here? My running career is over, because I have to preserve my knees. I am going to hit the bike. This was always my goal. I would walk until I lost enough weight to be able to ride a bike. But along the way, I became fascinated with the idea of running. Of being able to do it. So it was a nice diversion over the last year or so.

I'm glad I did it, if for no other reason to give The Bridge Run a proper farewell in my life. Now onto other things!