Posted in mindset, physical health

G.I. Joe

I don’t remember the conversation at all, but I do remember at one point in college telling a vegetarian friend of mine that I wasn’t into “all that healthy shit.”

Times have changed.

For me at that point, there was no draw to the healthy stuff. It wasn’t a defense mechanism—at least not one that I was aware of or can identify retrospectively—it just had no importance. There was no consequence to being unhealthy because I was 20, had always eaten like this, had nearly always been somewhat overweight, and it didn’t matter. No, I couldn’t run and wasn’t very flexible and on and on, but unless there was a call for those skills—and there wasn’t—it didn’t matter.

So not having connected consequences (short- or long-term) is one reason for the indifference.

Feeling powerless is another.

If a person has a strong external locus of control—they believe that things happen to them and there’s not much or anything they can do about it—then they’re not going to believe that they have responsibility for their health, and their reaction to an offer of information about health habits is most likely indifference.

The other underlying reason for a reaction like that would be for defense. A person knows on some level that what they’re doing is causing a result that they don’t like, but they have a roadblock—known or unknown—and aren’t fixing it. Their response is in defense of themselves.

Defense also comes into play in cases of insecurity. Sometimes insecure people latch on to every person or idea that comes through. But sometimes, they lash out at every person or idea that comes through. All ideas or plans are stupid or bad or dismissed on some detail or other.

This is at least part of why G.I. Joe was negligent. Maybe knowing is half the battle, but the other half—the doing—is much more difficult. Most somewhat-educated people know enough about health and wellness to keep themselves relatively fit. Doesn’t matter. In my classes and mentoring, teaching people what to do is not challenging. People following through? That’s the challenging part.

Posted in mindset, motivation, physical health, tips

Pants for weight maintenance

I’ve talked to so many people who have lost weight (intentionally) and kept their now-too-big pants “just in case.”

If keeping the weight off is a priority, get rid of the pants (or get them tailored to fit). By keeping the pants, you’re giving yourself permission to gain the weight back.

(The exception would be pregnancy-related clothes.)

Likewise, if you want to stop gaining weight, stop buying bigger pants.

In both cases, when what you have starts to get snug, that’s a heads up that you need to get your habits back in check. If your habits have legitimately been in check, then it’s time to see a doctor.

No, they didn’t shrink in the wash.

Elastic-waisted pants will not help you with this. Which is not to say that there’s no place for them—they’re comfy and wonderful!—but pants that hold you accountable need to stay in the regular rotation.

A free tool, right there in your closet (or dresser). Use it!

Posted in exercise, know better do better, physical health

Entropy

I’ve been a little bit sick—not enough to stay home in bed, but enough to be exhausted, not mentally sharp, and need extra sleep—and so for your Friday, I’m offering you something written but not by me.

I had this saved on my computer. It’s the text of an email several years old. I don’t know who wrote it. (I have a couple of guesses.) I apparently didn’t save the email, or, more likely, it was sent to an account that is no longer active. I loved what it said, copied, pasted, saved … and didn’t consider that I didn’t save the header.

But it’s fantastic. I love it. And I think you will, too. And if you know who wrote it, let me know. If you wrote it, let me know and I can credit you. (And if you don’t want it posted here, I’ll take it down.)

Without further introduction…

This New Year was subdued at our house. My wife’s parents suddenly have a flood of health problems. I’ll spare you the details, but the usual stuff, diabetes, arthritis, hip replacement and, unfortunately, cancer.

They’re in what I call a degenerative cycle. One condition feeds the other. It’s a challenging cycle to break out of.

On the flip side of that, there are regenerative cycles also. You make one positive health change, which triggers another and so on.

Here’s a critical difference between the two. Forgive me for going a little physics geek on you, the 2nd law of thermodynamics says that in a closed system, things move toward higher entropy. In other words, stuff naturally falls apart. It’s a fundamental law of nature.

People too. If you do nothing (i.e. a closed system) you fall apart, no effort required. That’s the driver for the degenerative cycle, entropy.

Regenerative cycles are a fight with entropy. Energy is required and, the 2nd law of thermodynamics says, you can’t do that in a “closed system.”

So, what does all that mean for your health?

Sitting still, doing nothing, is a bad plan. That’s the way of entropy, the path of “falling apart.”

A regenerative cycle is powerful. It’s like a glider catching an updraft, minimal effort, lots of reward. But it requires energy from outside to get it going and maintain it.

In health terms, outside energy can be many things; family and friends, religion, the food we eat or new ideas and information.

I don’t know what your inspiration will be, your “outside energy.” But, watching my in-laws as they struggle with their health, I’m acutely aware right now, the upward spiral is one heck of a lot better than the downward.

Seek your inspiration. Welcome outside energy. Find your upward spiral.

Do it today, old man Entropy never sleeps.

 

Posted in audience participation, follow-up, food, physical health

Follow-up to the dinner post

Last week, I answered a reader question about dinner. Planning. Dealing with busy evenings. Dealing with low energy.

When I posted it to social media, I asked what others do for quick, easy meals. Here’s what people shared:

  • breakfast for dinner
  • We just had make your own taco night. Fry’s has great vegetarian already-seasoned meat crumbles you literally just put in a skillet and heat up for about 5-8 minutes. I cut up the black olives while it is heating and put out all the toppings and tacos/tortillas. The girls love this and it is so easy and quick! We also heat up black beans for those who may want them as well.
  • pizza on flour tortillas baked in the oven

Great ideas!

Posted in food, mindset, physical health

Tasty, healthy food

The Kid was helping me prepare dinner the other night. He was chopping tomatoes; I was chopping onions. We were talking about upcoming Thursday night’s dinner.

“Swiss chard is so good. And it’s healthy! Which makes it perfect!”

“Did you know there are people who think that healthy food can’t be tasty?”

“WHAT?! Well, they should try Swiss chard … And I bet they’ve never heard of tomatoes. Just hamburgers and carrots. I’m not really a fan of raw carrots.”

I had a good chuckle at many aspects of that, including anyone on a fast food-based diet being offered chard as an introduction to tasty, healthy food.

To switch the mindset to enjoying healthy food, there are a few potential considerations.

Part is finding foods or meals that are close enough to what you’re used to that you don’t reject them before you’ve tried them (or being open to “weird” foods … but most people find it easier to try familiar-ish foods first).

Part is letting your taste buds acclimate to the taste of unprocessed food. (Junk food—sweet or not—tastes different when you haven’t had it for a long time. Much of it will become undesirable over time.)

Part is not believing that any “healthy replacement” is actually going to taste like what it’s a substitute for. It’s not. It doesn’t. That doesn’t mean it’s not good. I’ve had some amazing burgers made out of all sorts of not-meaty things. But they’re not burgers.

And part is believing that food can be healthy and tasty, that eating well is not a drag or a punishment. Occasionally, I really want crap and I eat well instead, and I’m not excited about it, but our daily meals? They’re tasty. I enjoy eating them, for the most part. And they’re healthy.

You can get there, too. Takes time, takes effort, but it’s possible.

Just ask The Kid.

Oh, and the chard recipe? It’s here. We add the equivalent of a can of chickpeas for bulk and protein and are more generous with the parm; we serve it over rice. For three of us, I double it. And it’s delicious.

And if you have an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, you should make your chickpeas instead of buying canned. They’re substantially better. (You don’t need a pressure cooker, but you can make them with little notice in one.)

Posted in gifts, mental health, mindset, motivation, physical health

Gratitude for pain

So … I climbed on Tuesday until my hands wouldn’t hold onto the rocks on the wall any more.

My forearms (from gripping) and lats (from pulling) hurt for two days.

On the second of those days, I had a session with my trainer. Leg Day.

My legs were hurtin’ the next day. And, from all of the weights I held and moved in addition to just legs, my lats and forearms were unhappy an extra day.

How glorious!

My body is strong enough that I can try to climb fake rocks until I physically can’t any more. I can train (hard!) with a trainer. I can walk around at work all day, noticing that I’m sore. I can run 5Ks and ride my bike and play on the playground with my kid and move furniture and carry laundry.

Lucky me.

Why do it? Because you can.

A friend’s mom recently completed her first 5K. Except that she has a degenerative disorder, making walking long distances painful. She walked it. With a walker. Took WAY longer than everyone else. But she did it.

There are countless examples of people working through massive obstacles to be able to walk or run or lift or climb. (I’m sure there are examples in other sports, too–those are just the ones on my radar.)

Do it! Because you can!

Posted in food, know better do better, mindset, motivation, physical health

New year detox?

A Facebook friend asked her online universe why cleanses and detoxes are so popular.

My opinion?

They’re popular because people believe they can trash their bodies for days/weeks/months/years and then “detox” for 2-5 days and call it even. It’s justification, and it lets people do what they want without feeling guilty because they “fix it.”

The best way to keep your body in good working order is to fuel it well on a regular basis. Perfect every day? Nah. But mostly great stuff most days. Minimal not great stuff most days.

We have built-in systems for cleaning out crap. The problem is when we overload the systems on a regular basis.

The more problems your body has, the stricter you’ll need to be for it to be happy (or happier).

Allergies typically require a modified diet (though when eczema or something similar is the consequence, many will use creams instead of diet to manage it).

Autoimmune disorders (which I would argue are a more severe case of allergies) have low or no tolerance for added sugars, fried foods, processed foods, alcohol.

Diabetes (regardless of type) requires dietary maintenance, and if you don’t do it, you’re going to have severe problems (immediately, down the road, or both).

The list goes on and on, but illnesses that we weren’t born with have some link to diet; some can be blamed entirely on diet. (And some that develop in utero can be blamed on mom’s diet. And now, we’re learning, grandma’s diet.)

What we eat and drink is really important. REALLY important. But because the side effects are gradual, because we’re “all” tired and a little (or more) overweight, because we’re “all” a little achy, we assume that’s just how it goes, but it’s not.

A detox doesn’t fix it.

Eat well. Drink well. Your body will thank you. It’s the only one you get. Treat it well.

Posted in about me, ebb & flow, exercise, food, know better do better, mental health, mindset, motivation, physical health, thoughtfulness

Accountability to self

Who are you doing it for?

Are you doing it to better yourself? (In what way? Why?)

Are you just trying to impress people?

When you eat junk hiding in the bathroom, or tell your people you went to the gym when you didn’t, or pretend you ran faster than you did… why?

There are a lot of things I’d like to do every day. Even with time off, I’m not doing all (or even most) of these things every day.

So I decided to make a chart. It’s on my dresser and tracks a week at a time. About me. For me.

On it, there are all of the self-care things that I need to do every day and all of the things that in theory I would do every day but realistically don’t have time for. But I could do all of them a couple of times per week.

Exercise. Stretch. Foam roll. Meditate. Work on my book. Spend time with friends. Eat produce every color of the rainbow. Sleep. (Enough.) Put stuff on the stupid plantar wart.

This just helps me to monitor, and to keep things a little more in the forefront of my mind.

There are a lot of things on there. I decided before I made it that it’s not a daily to-do list; that would just be stressful. More of a “how am I doing this week?” list.

Things change when you monitor them, and I believe this will spur change for the better. We’ll see.

I also have sweets and caffeine on there, just to keep track of my intake of those. Many (not all) of the teas I drink in the cold mornings are caffeinated, and I don’t have much issue with that. But if I have too much or drink it too consistently, then I get a withdrawal migraine when I stop. And I don’t want to drink enough caffeine to go into withdrawal.

Sweets is just to make sure that what I think I’m doing and what I’m actually doing match, and it includes all of ’em. Even if I just take a Peppermint Patty out of the candy jar at work. (Oddly, those have been tempting. No other candy is. Though I’m typically only at that school during my fasting period nowadays anyway, so it’s irrelevant.)

Nuts and bolts for copycats: I made the list, organized it, wrote it on a sheet of white-lined paper, and put it in a picture frame. You can write on/wipe off dry erase markers on glass. It’s so much nicer looking and uses less plastic.

Posted in food, mindset, physical health, tips

Throw it away—it’s not really food

(If you haven’t read The disclaimer post, or need a refresher, please read it here before proceeding. Thanks!)

We went to a cookie decorating party.

We hosted a Christmas Eve Eve party with sweets provided and sweets brought by guests.

We had family dinner and dessert with both daddies on Christmas Eve.

We had family brunch and dessert with the three of us Christmas Day.

The day after Christmas was wonky and we weren’t home much, and when we were home, we weren’t eating. *whew*

By today, December 27, we’re getting back into more normal health habits.

This morning, this conversation happened:

Kid: Can I have a cookie when I’m done my breakfast?

Me: No. There aren’t any.

Kid: Who ate them all?

Me: No one. I threw them away. We’ve had enough cookies.

Kid: OK.

Now, because we have a culture of healthy food in our house, it wasn’t a big deal when there weren’t any more cookies.

The holiday is over. The sweets were fun. We enjoyed making them. We enjoyed sharing them. We enjoyed eating them. But we don’t need to eat all of them. Last night, I threw the rest of the leftovers away.

It’s not wasting food, because it’s not really food.

If you’re worried about wasting food, dig the fruit and veggies out of the fridge and eat them before they rot. Or the leftovers from recent dinners gone by. Or the unmarked parcels in your freezer.

Cookies? Cake? Ice cream? Brownies? Pie? Whipped cream? Carmel corn? Chocolate? Candy?

Pitch it.

(The best stuff got eaten already anyway…)

Posted in ebb & flow, food, hope, know better do better, mental health, mindset, motivation, parenting, physical health, tips

The path and the results

Yesterday, I posted more or less the transcript of my session about sugar, and I promised you that today, I would give you advice on dealing with all of that information and what you can expect as a result of your hard work.

Read labels. (Ask me if you don’t know how—I’ll teach you.)

Use a journal or an app or whatever works for you to keep track of how much sugar you’re currently taking in. All of it. Read ALL of your labels. There is sugar hiding in so many foods that aren’t sweet.  This is not to judge—it’s to know where you’re starting.

The current WHO recommendation is less than 18 grams per day of added sugars.

If you’re over that, look at where you can start shaving it down.

If you’re like me, “moderation” is bullshit and you need to just cut it until it’s under control. (I’ll write more about this thought another day.)

If you’re like me, you’re an emotional eater and you need to make a plan for what you’re going to do when you’re happy, when you’re sad, when you’re stressed, when you’re whatever state of being causes intense sugar cravings.

Overeating sugar is a SUPER COMMON PROBLEM. There is no shame in this. You are not alone, and anyone who judges you is wrestling with the same problem and can’t face it yet.

Your value as a human being has no connection to how much junk food you eat.

I’m not gonna lie—quitting sugar is hard. Partially because we have been trained to believe we deserve it (see decades of being rewarded by parents, teachers, etc. with candy, ice cream, etc.). Partially because it’s ubiquitous, so it’s difficult to avoid contact/temptation. Partially because sometimes people in our lives react badly to us trying to live better and make it harder for us. (I’ll write more about this thought another day.)

But it’s worth the work.

When you quit sugar and it loses its hold on you, you experience liberation that you didn’t even know you needed.

You stop thinking about food all the time.

You stop shaming yourself for eating crap all the time.

You save time and money by not seeking out and buying junk all the time.

You don’t spend so much time feeling guilty.

Your moods are better.

Your energy level is higher.

And eventually, you can have a sweet here or there without it becoming all-consuming.

I’m not saying it will be easy. I’m saying it will be worth it.

And I challenge you to instill eating habits in your children that will help them not to have the same struggles that you have.