The 6th Thought: Splurging

“Splurging is the key to life…How would you appreciate vegetables if you never had chocolate? You couldn’t live without a little chocolate, a little French fries…I still splurge when I can, but that’s why I try to exercise almost every day.”

-Source Yahoo News

What a poor message being communicated to Americans by the first lady, Michelle Obama and her Let’s Move! program at the annual White House egg roll event. This quote, by an overweight mother of two is along the same lines of “everything in moderation is okay.” As Jeff Novick, MS, RD says, “items we know that are causing harm to Americans right now are the excess consumption of added sugars, refined grains, sodium, fat, and saturated fat.” The numbers don’t lie and I have written about this previously, people are moderating the WRONG foods. Yet splurging is just another word for moderation and not a good message to be sending when heading up an expensive government program.

Someone also needs to tell Mrs. Obama that nutrition and eating right, not exercise is key to life. Many Americans still don’t understand nutrition and the roll it plays in their life and health. Many will claim to be healthy based on how they look or their weight, but what do the blood results show? Exercise is important, but one must take control of what and how they eat before they imagine eating anything and splurging are okay, as long as you are exercising.

Goal: 100 Push Ups!

After sharing my body composition results with co-workers and other interested individuals who follow a plant based lifestyle, I am reevaluating my goals for the next 4 months. As of June 12th, I had made my weight goal, although put on a few pounds this past few days. While their test scale added on a few more pounds, it’s not much concern to me. Weight is just a number, but if I look and feel good, then I am fine with it.

That said, the most immediate goal will be an upcoming physical with my doctor, if I decide to make one. You can read why I feel I don’t I need one this year, but to make a point with my doctor and this way of life (eating a plant-based diet) I might schedule one. This is also provides me the opportunity to get my blood tested.

Beyond that I have been reviewing my results and have started looking at ways to reduce my fat weight by 5 pounds. This weight has nothing to do with achieving or maintaining the initial goal I set of 175 pounds. As I was told yesterday, it’s possible that since last October I have lost a combination of fat and muscle since slimming down from 216 pounds to 175 pounds. I do believe the hard part is under control, diet. While some people won’t agree I feel I have a very healthy diet that does not have me eating added fat.

The exercise has increased since June 1, I have been trying to get to the gym 3-4 days a week, which includes lifting weights followed by 30-45 minutes of cardio. In addition to that I am adding a 6 week push up program called one hundred push ups. I have always hated push ups and honestly never really been fit enough to do more than 15-20 when I was younger and supposedly in better shape.

This program allows you to do sets of push ups 3 times a week as you build your strength, based off your initial test. All the initial test is to determine how many push ups you can do. If you can’t do more than 5 that is not a problem, if you can do 15, great! Regardless of how many you can do, you build off that number doing 5 sets, resting 60 seconds between each set. The last set allows you to max out the number of push ups you can do, while implementing a minimum.

Before you start week 4, you do another exhaustion test (how many push ups can you accomplish). Based on your results you pick the appropriate column and follow the recommended number of push ups for 5 sets. Again, maxing out with set number 5. Week 5 will be dependent on how much push ups you finished during week 4. Finally week 6 is dependent on week 5. The goal to be able to accomplish 1 set of 100 push ups.

This will help overall strength as well as core strength. “When someone talks about the core, they’re referring the muscles deep within the abs and back, attaching to the spine or pelvis” (source). It’s a basic exercise, which is accomplished without any added cost for equipment. “Many experts now agree that the push-up may well be the “perfect exercise”, as stated by personal trainer Jonathan Ross, a spokesman for the American Council on Exercise” (source). This additional exercise combined with the 60-90 minutes of weight lifting and 30 minutes of cardio three to four times a week should help me achieve my desired goal of losing 5 pounds of fat as I work towards a leaner and stronger body.

Cheese. I miss cheese.

You won’t hear me complaining when I look at what I have accomplished since October, 2011. I have taken on a new lifestyle, some like my family physician would call it a “diet” but it’s more than that. It IS a lifestyle change. Many would consider it “extreme” and not have the drive and willpower to do it. That’s fine with me. I did this for me, in order to get myself healthy. But that’s not to say I don’t miss some of the foods I have given up.

While I probably shouldn’t I still drink beer, albeit nowhere near the amount I drank prior to October, 2011. I could easily go through a case, mixing micheladas all day long as I worked around the house. Unfortunately, that drink might be a thing of the past because of the sodium content in Clamato. If anything I will really limit the amount of Clamato I take in because of the sodium.

More than anything I miss cheese. Since giving up dairy I have been yearning for some sprinkled cheese on top of my enchiladas or placed in the middle of my spicy black bean burger. I have tried a few non-dairy and soy cheese, while they are not bad it’s not cheese. Unfortunately these cheese substitutes are also pretty high in fat content. In my eyes, they should be used sparingly.

That has me combing the Internet looking for a recipe that can be used as cheese. I found a few and it wasn’t until this last week did I try it. Author and cook, Julieanna Hever provided a full meal plan for Super Bowl XLVI. One of her dishes was Hearty Nachos that had cheese. This was a recipe in itself!

Now for those who love the aroma and taste of a piece of cheese, I would not get your hopes up too high. The basis of this cheese is made from cashews, a red pepper and nutrition yeast or “nooch” as it is known in vegan. circles. And no, I don’t consider myself a vegan.

What it does give is a cheese flavor, due to the nooch, along with the consistency of a cheese when melted. The color was pretty close to what a spicy Velvetta would have been, if used instead of a substitute. I have been using this recipe for a week now and it seems to fit the bill when looking for something that calls for cheese.

Since then I have found some other recipes on the Internet for making non-dairy (usually nut based) cheese. Chances are you won’t be serving at your next party, but it’s much healthier than processed cheese. There is also a company in the UK who makes nut-based cheese and sells them. No word on that cheese coming to America though. But in my world, there is a substitute for everything. Well, maybe not beer.

Welcome Back Tony

It’s been 9 years since I purchased Power 90 with Tony Horton from a late night infomercial while working the graveyard shift at United Airlines. At the time I felt I was overweight and wanted to get into shape. I had tried diets and gyms and had not really had much luck. My daily diet consisted of a burrito from Chipotle, a few Red Bull Energy Drinks and a some chicken sandwiches from a fast food joint for dinner. Not exactly the image of health. I don’t believe I was cooking many meals at all, it was always food on the go or eating out at local establishments.

I started the program at a weight of 210 pounds on March 16, 2003 and over the course of 30 days I saw a 10 pound weight decrease and looking at the pictures (the ugly truth) I took of myself on day 1 and day 30, there were some minor changes in my body. Most notably, a 1″ increase in my chest and a 2″ loss on my waist. Still after 46 days, when I stopped keeping up a journal at Team Beachbody, I was not where I wanted to be.

This time around, I have half the battle already won, as my diet is under control and I have already dropped 26 pounds since October 30, 2011. I know I seem to bring up that number every time I talk about how I did it, but I am still in awe that I could see changes so quickly. Since moving to a plant-based whole food diet I have more energy and have my cholesterol under control. Unlike my 2003 attempt I was still not eating healthy while using Power 90, but I was loading up on recommended supplements as advertised on their web site.

Today was my reintroduction to “Tony and the kids.” Tony being fitness guru, Tony Horton who leads us in “combined quick, intense cardiovascular exercises with moderate-level strength and weight training moves” (source). His kids are the male and female he used in the video to help those, like me accomplish the moves in this DVD series.

I started with Sweat Cardio I/II today and I’ll be honest couldn’t keep with the simple moves. I had a few added breaks in the 36 minute workout. This DVD combined cardio moves, kickboxing and Pilates before moving on to 100 ab moves in 10 minutes. I know I don’t feel it now, but coming tomorrow or the next day I am sure it will start to take effect. I am a bit tired after the 45 minute workout, but like my previous attempt, I feel good and better about myself as I know I can break down the barriers that prevented me from being successful in 2003.

Combine Power 90 with 30 minutes of walking at work and my “plat strong lifestyle” and my health outlook is nothing short of spectacular! Looking forward to it in fact. the most telling sign will be when my wife begins to notice the changes. She can tell a difference in the loss of 26 pounds and damn if I can notch my belt over one more loophole. It’s the small things, right?


LDL is Bad.

Ever have those days where you need to go somewhere, but you dread the results because you know they are going to be bad, not matter what? That is how it’s been for me that last 3 years (wow since I turned 40) for me as it relates going to my family doctor for my yearly physical.

I made it a point at age 39 to start going every year. So far I have been very healthy with no real issue to concern myself or my wife with. Minor problems, but nothing that cannot be cured or remedied. It’s not the “jelly finger” I fear feeling for an enlarged prostate, it’s the LDL levels (bad cholesterol) in my blood work results.

As expected this number had increased since my last two physicals, which is now a concern for the physician. We discussed factors relating to cholesterol, my eating habits (which pretty much suck) and what we needed to go in order to control the increasing levels. At 41, this number was still to high and something that could lead to heart disease if not brought under control.

Now with my enjoyment of cooking I must throw caution to wind and pay closer attention to what ingredients I use and the style of preparation. I usually pay attention to what I cook and to a lesser degree how I prepare it, but now it will be a bit more crucial as we move forward from today. Exceptions to the rule can no longer be the norm for me. Breaking the rules can happen on occasion, but paying attention to labels and cholesterol is more important.

I have already been looking at what I should be eating or how I should be preparing food. While the two are close, I will need them to become even closer as we move forward. I also start a medicine regiment tomorrow taking simvastatin, one 40mg tablet a day. Of course no drug comes without a side effect and hopefully I won’t be a recipient of any of the negative side affects associated with this medication such as Rhabdomyolysis or muscle pain.