T H E 6 T H F L O O R

Life in 6 Land

T H E  6 T H  F L O O R - Life in 6 Land

50 Mile Race

AR50_logoWe are still a few weeks away from the start of 2015 and my traditional resolutions post, but yesterday I made my first commitment for the new year. Coming off a very successful year running, which included my first 50K, as well as my second Tough Mudder competition, I signed up for my first 50 mile race, the American River 50 Mile Endurance Race, running from Folsom to Auburn on Saturday, April 4, 2015. This will be my first attempt at a distance longer than 31.7 miles. I know, probably tiring for some to think about, as there is a 14 hour time limit to finish the race.

Much like my 50K attempt during the Diablo Trails Challenge this past April, the goal of my first 50 mile race is to finish. “Finishing is winning” and that is the mindset I will go into the race with. Technically the race is run on trails following the American River, but the real competition is in your mind. If you can run a marathon, you can run 50 miles, but keeping your mind and goal focused will be the challenge. I consider myself fortunate that I had a positive mindset and as I crossed the starting line I knew I was going to cross the finish line later that day.

Like the 50K, I will be running with a partner, co-worker, Brian who will have ran a marathon (CIM earlier this month) and a 50K (Razorback) in February. I knew my running partner during the Diablo Challenge was going to leave me behind early and I was not about to change my race strategy to keep up with him. I probably could have pushed it, but that might have left me short sometime after mile 25. This time around, I feel Brian is better suited to my speed, while running styles are different, it will be interesting to see how well we run together and support each other.

The goal of the race is to finish inside of 14 hours, which is the time limit. Based on my 8:53 finishing time for 31.7 miles, this leaves an additional 18.3 miles to run before we run up against the time limit. That leaves just over 5 hours and the math says we need to run 3.66 miles an hour to meet that time limit.

Replaying the 50K in my mind, I know I wasn’t in the sort of running shape I could have been in. Leading up to the race I had only run twice within 4 weeks of the race. So my conditioning wasn’t nearly at its peak, unlike the half marathon I ran the year prior. I have put together an 18 week training plan and as long as I can make my long runs each week I feel very confident on beating my 50K time and crossing the finish line in the AR50 ahead of that 14 hour cutoff.

It’s rare I run more than one race a year, because I have a very difficult time paying to register in a race, when I could walk out my front door or drive to the nearest trails, put on my hydration pack and run. This race cost me $200 to enter, but you do receive a Pategonia shirt and jacket. I am considering using the Razorback Endurance Race on February 28 as my “long” training run leading up to the AR50. It’s set to be a 4.81 mile loop (trail) or a very simple 2 mile loop (paved). Also many races conflict with my work schedule and much like paying money to run, weekends are not easy days to request off when there is little coverage.

With any luck the next few months of training will get me back into the sort of running shape I was in just a year ago. Unfortunately a second shoulder surgery and physical therapy has had me sidelined since August. I am looking forward to the start of 2015 and while I don’t want to look too far ahead, it might be time to start planning my first 100K, 100 mile run or triathlon.

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Thanks Michelle Obama

stuffyourfaceMuch has been made of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, championed by Michelle Obama. Images of paltry meals with hashtags reading #ThanksMichelleObama and comments about prisoners eating better, could this new policy be failing when to comes to feeding our youth? “The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act allows USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, opportunity to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children” (source).

This year brought about change to schools across the nation requiring all food sold during the school day to “to meet nutrition standards, which you can read in this summary. Some of the highlights include:

  • Grain items must include 50% or more whole grains by weight, or have whole grains as the first ingredient.
  • Food items must have ≤ 35%calories from total fat as served.
  • Food items must have < 10%calories from saturated
    fat as served.
  • Food items must have ≤ 35% of weight from total sugar as served.
  • Snack items and side dishes sold a la carte: ≤230 mg sodium or sold as entrée ≤480 mg sodium per item as served .
  • Snack items and side dishes sold a la carte: ≤200 calories or sold as entrée ≤350 calories per item served.

Regardless of what Michelle Obama has said in the past, politics play a role in how school aged kids will eat. They ALWAYS will! When I was younger, I rarely stood in lunch to receive a school lunch. Thankfully my mom made my lunch all the way through high school. School lunches were NEVER appealing!

Unfortunately nutritional education begins at home with good eating habits, not at school. Poor habits translate into wasted food, “some school officials say kids are throwing away fruits and vegetables that are required.” Schools are also being challenge meeting the limits on sodium and more whole grains.

dec_menuTaking a look at the December menu from the Oakley Union Elementary School District isn’t very impressive given that elementary lunches cost $2.50, with milk (dairy industry agenda) being sold for $0.50 (8 oz.). A Google image search for ‘U.S. school lunches‘ tells a different  story than does a Twitter search for #ThanksMichelleObama. Could that $2.50 not be better spent on feeding kids? The food our kids are eating at school are terrible! Hot dogs, chicken patties, cheeseburgers, bean burrito and Baja fish wrap are all staples in school lunches, little emphasis in feeding our youth QUALITY foods. Vegetables, fruits continue to play a complementary roll in school lunches, much like it does under My Plate.

A recent story from the Daily Caller compares what Obama’s girls eat at their private institution for lunch along with Twitter images from those in public schools. There is NO comparison! “Kids in America’s public, taxpayer-funded schools are not as lucky as the children of President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama” (source)

This is a topic that will continue to feature much debate, considering it was FLOTUS who backed this new school lunch initiative, but it still won’t receive the amount of attention of CCSS. Both of which are failing our kids in public schools.

While I don’t have an answer for school lunches, I know for damn sure I could put together a healthier, more satiating meal plan for school that kids would actually eat. It seems many of these new school meals are good for nothing more than posting on Twitter representing what they are being forced to eat, thanks in part to Mrs. Obama.

Pasta, vegetables, grains and starches would be the staple in my school lunch program, not as if that comes as a surprise to those who follow T6F. Is there really a need to feed kids highly processed crap that represents meat? I don’t think so. Maybe….”in moderation” but not every day, especially when there are healthier choices that are more satiating and probably cheaper ($3.00 a meal) to purchase in bulk for school districts.

Curious to hear what you think on the state of school lunches. I am just thankful my wife and I have time to prepare my son’s lunch so he is not left to eat the slop they call food in elementary school.

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Vegan Flip Flop


Plants. Nature’s medicine.

Three years ago I made the conscious decision to no longer include meat, dairy and added oil in my diet. This has been one of the best decisions I have made in life, as it allowed me to regain control of my health, something I had never had prior to following a plant based lifestyle. Yet controversy seems to swirl around how I eat.

Last week as I sat eating my Jalepeno Corn Muffins (thanks to Julie) and drinking my morning tea I read an article from the UK Daily Mail, EIGHTY FOUR percent of vegetarians in America eventually go back to eating meat. This Humane Research Council studied sampled 11,000 individuals with varied diets. As it stands now, only 2% of Americans follow a vegetarian diet and 88% of the populous has never tried a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. Even a smaller percentage will remove harmful ingredients such as oil, sugar and additives in their quest for health.

Of the 12% that have made the conscious shift to a plant based diet, “five out of six people return to being carnivores.” It was interesting to note “that half of vegetarians who went back to eating meat did it for their partners.” What better way to say “honey, I love you and will fill my diet full of meat, dairy and oil so I can see my health decrease and take a handful of pills in order to maintain health.”

Other “reasons” from the articles sounded more like weak-minded excuses. “I took a bite of my friend’s pizza, which happened to have bacon, and then the next morning we went to brunch, and I ordered more bacon because it was delicious.” Sure sodium and fried fat is like an explosion in your mouth, don’t mind what it will do to your health (yes, even in moderation). Others claimed they missed holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, describing it as “a sad time.” The only thing SAD is the lifestyle led by eating these foods that promote obesity.

Being plant based isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle. You don’t do it “part time” to achieve your goals, only to go back to poor eating habits that put you in the predicament to begin with. I have no intentions of reversing what I have done the past 3 years of my life. This IS how I want to eat, it makes me happy, provides me great energy and allows me to build on this new found health. The desire to consume foods and ingredients I once cherished continue to be nothing more than a memory.

I don’t miss feeling terrible every day. I don’t miss the aches and pains, migraines and the handful of pills some attributed to “getting old.” I am stronger, healthier and achieving things I never thought imaginable. I owe it all to a plant strong lifestyle. So while the statistics will never favor how I eat, my personal experience tells me all I need to know. I won’t become one of those “5 out of 6″ who return to making poor decisions when it comes to how I eat.

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Death. The Other Option.

extremeAt the risk of sounding like a nag, when the hell are people going to wake up and realize the food they eat to sustain their life is the same food that is causing disease, obesity and sickness? Moderation is a myth, oil still isn’t “heart healthy” and the fork could potentially be as lethal as a weapon. The statistics prove Americans moderate the wrong foods. Even the saying from the American Dietetic Association, “All foods fit,” has been taken out of context. The original saying is not “all foods fit,”  but, “All foods can fit into a healthful diet ‘if’ consumed in moderation with appropriate portion size and combined with regular physical activity.”

Change. It doesn’t come easy, if at all. People are resistant to change in favor of the status quo. Reasons vary including:

  • when the status quo is satisfactory
  • when the purpose of change is not clearly understood
  • when those affected lack courage or self confidence
  • personal fear of failure to master new skills
  • fear of personal loss of ego, status, power or resources
  • when implementation appears to be rigid and inflexible

Each of these reasons “excuses” could be applied to why people don’t take their health more serious and make changes that they would benefit from. I admitted to myself for 42 years that “I was fine.” This when dining on fast foods, fried foods, dairy and meat while not enjoy veggies and limiting starchy foods. I knew I had a problem, but I wasn’t strong enough to face the fears associated with making change.

Then something amazing happened, so unexpected it was exhilarating as I looked towards the future, seeing a happy, healthy life ahead. I accepted the change and challenged myself to accept a new, plant based lifestyle leaving behind the foods that were the cause of all my health related problems.

I know this sounds like fiction and many won’t think twice about it or consider change in their life, continuing to follow their “healthy” lifestyle that includes meat and dairy. I don’t care if you are gluten free, buy only organic, believe grass fed beef is somehow healthier or still hold on to the belief that fancy cooking oils are beneficial. The fact of the matter remains, your decisions on foods are the key to your health and many Americans continue to make the wrong decisions.

As the saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” Change doesn’t come without dedication, effort and a bit of struggle. I know this as well as anyone when making the decision to get healthy, which I did in October, 2011. Yet 3 years later people continue to find excuses not to take establishment to keep them healthy.


Left: The “SAD” days. Right: Powered by plants!

If literature and words are not enough to convince the majority to reconsider, how about leading by example. That is what I am, living proof you can take control of your health, forget about doctors and medicine and heal yourself. The transformation has been nothing short of amazing! Gone are all the maladies I once struggled with; my weight, aches and pains, including consistent migraines, foot problems (plantar fasciitis), stomach issues and lethargy.

People willing to try could be rewarded in as little as 12 days at no cost to them thanks to Dr. John McDougall and his free McDougall Program. The Internet is chocked full of beneficial information, programs and recipes to assist individuals in their quest for health. Julie Marie Christensen at Protective Diet promotes “a diet rich in whole plant foods, free of all animal products, saturated fats, oils, nuts, sugar, artificial sweeteners and food additives.” It takes 30 days to “eliminate the physical addiction… then our taste bud receptors are not searching for the missing oils and fats any longer.” Why not start now?

Unfortunately many consider a plant based lifestyle “extreme” by making the decision to remove meat, dairy and for some, oil. Open heart surgery is far too common, as the 6th most expensive surgery in the U.S. at $324,000*. “Part of the high cost of open heart surgery is because it’s often an urgent medical procedure that is usually followed by complications. Longer care and follow-up needed after surgery add to the price tag.

Conversely I hear many complain about just how expensive it is to eat a plant based diet. According to the IRS, the average person in America spends $301 on food, and the average family of four spends $765. According to the US department of Labor, a typical family of four eating “moderately” at home in 2011 spent $664. But that’s eating many processed foods (source).

I’m not saying to spend $1.50 a day on food as Darshana Thacker did on Forks Over Knives, but by following some simple rules you can save money following a plant based lifestyle.

  • Buy in bulk: beans, grains, pastas, flours, herbs, spices and nutritional yeast are staples in my pantry.
  • Make a list: write down what you want to buy and go into the store with a purpose, this will help limit food and ingredients you don’t need.
  • Comparison shop and coupons: visit a few different grocers to see which store has weekly deals or sales going on. Watch Sunday papers for coupons, which could allow you to save additional money.
  • Buy frozen and canned food: some veggies and fruits are season, so you might need to find another option. Frozen veggies are inexpensive and can be used in a variety of ways. In a pinch, canned ingredients (BPA free) can be used if something is not in season or unavailable from the bulk bins. In the past I have primarily used beans and tomatoes.
  • Menu planning: create a menu for the week, figuring in the amount of leftovers that could be used for additional meals during the week. Meal planning will allow you to create a more accurate shopping list.

Some of these suggestions are good practice in general regardless of the foods you eat. Initially stocking your pantry could require a bit larger of a cost, but in the long run removing the pricey cuts of meat, dairy such as cheese and processed foods will result in substantial savings over time.

The argument from many usually includes, “I’m going to die anyways, so I am going to eat whatever I want.” By all means do what makes you happy, but expect the possible consequences that come with eating a diet high in red meat, sugary drinks and desserts, high-fat foods, high-fat dairy products, and refined grains. The cost could be your life. You might suffer a heart attack and be diagnosed with coronary heart disease (CHD) requiring open heart surgery. Both of those options sound extreme to me. A plant based lifestyle offers results, but only if you WANT to take control of your health.

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Put Down the Fork


People need to put down the fork and pay attention to what is happening to their health. Many won’t, continuing to eat an industrial, Western pattern or “standard American diet,” characterized by high intakes of red meat, sugary desserts, high-fat foods, and refined grains. It also typically contains high-fat dairy products, high-sugar drinks, and higher intakes of processed meat (source).

Your worst enemy, the fork. This utensil has lead to one-third (34.9% or 76.4 million) of U.S. adults being obese. “Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death” (source). Yet with obesity numbers continuing to rise and the top 11 pharmaceutical companies seeing profits of $85 billion (in 2012), the message continues to be largely ignored.

Just over 3 years ago I was the poster boy for these “sad” choices in my diet. I failed to heed warning signs as my body was continually poisoned. Sickness and maladies plagued me, headaches were becoming a constant in daily life and my weight continued to increase. I was misguided to believe my pants and shirts, now ill fitting were getting smaller, as there were always bigger, comfortable, better fitting clothes to buy. That lifestyle changed overnight thanks to Forks Over Knives when I took control of my health

As we approach Thanksgiving, I have much to be thankful for. I have a beautiful wife, wonderful son, a great job, good friends and most importantly, my health. That’s similar to what some of my co-workers would say, with the except of controlling their health. As traditionally happens at the workplace, a potluck takes place and each employees provides a dish to share. This year, many wanted to pass on the early helping of turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes and opted to do breakfast/brunch.

givethanksWhile sharing ideas I was taken back by the negativity, jokes and rude comments when offering plant based suggestions to share. The responses were not surprising, the entire office knows I follow a strict plant based lifestyle, which some believe is void of flavor and no fun. Through education, experience and challenging myself with plant based recipes nothing could be further from the truth. I use my wife is the measuring stick, if she eats the plant based recipes I cook and likes it others will too!

The reality of the situation, it no longer bothers me but one would think I was offering servings of poison by the reactions I receive every time we discuss food and toss out truly healthy alternatives. Why? Can’t people accept he fact they can be healthy AND happy? As Dr. John McDougall says, “People love to hear good news about their bad habits.” That is how many individuals have chosen to eat and many willingly accept the future consequences to their health. Give plants a chance and be thankful.

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