Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Healthy Choice (is you)

I stopped blogging back in December for a couple of reasons: First of all, we were just beginning The Wedding Tour and it was difficult to find the extra time to write (getting married once a month is exhausting and time consuming!). Secondly, I got the overwhelming impression that nobody was reading. So, why bother? But I have had some emails and some requests in person that I start writing again - not to mention a very heartwarming fan letter from someone moved by the story of my Plain Jane Jones tattoo. So I decided to start blogging again; but I was looking for the RIGHT story with which to start up again.

Last week I found it, in the numerous requests I have had from people wanting to get in shape and live healthier, happier lives.

A new story:

So you want to lose weight and get in better shape. This is an admirable thing. It says you are choosing yourself over anything else. You are choosing to love and respect yourself, your body; you are choosing to make your life better. It's a beautiful thing that you have made this decision.

Now for the reality.

In my experience, most of the people who have come to me and asked me for advice on how to get in better shape and live a healthier lifestyle -- they are not ready to commit to that decision. They want to get in shape but they don't want to stop drinking alcohol every day; they don't want to stop eating Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast; they don't want to stop eating movie popcorn; they don't want to stop eating at McDonald's. If that's you, just stop reading right now. Just. Stop.

If you want to lose weight, if you want to live a healthier life, if you want to feel better physically, if you want to feel better ABOUT your physicality, keep reading...

You have to acknowledge and understand that you cannot do this through dieting. You cannot do this through exercise. You MUST make a combination of the two for it to, truly, work. You must get up out of the chair, out from behind the computer, off of the sofa, out from in front of the television and you have to sweat. It is work. If it weren't work, everyone would do it and America would not be a nation filled with obese people. It's an hour out of your day. That's all. An hour. And don't be fooled by the tv commercials that tell you that you can get in shape in just ten minutes a day. It is true that getting out of the chair for ten minutes is good for you - because being sedentary is so effing BAD for you. But it is a lie to tell you that by doing ten minutes of a sort of exercise on a machine you bought on the tv will make you look like someone in the cast of True Blood. You have to know that you will exercise for (at the very least) 30 minutes; if you are ambitious, you can go for an hour, two hours - whatever you want and whatever your body can take.

They always say consult a physician before starting an exercise program. DO. IT. Then, join a gym or a class. Find an exercise you like that will be fun. Do it with a teacher or a friend or a group of friends - having someone with whom you meet and train gives you an accountability. You are not just doing this for yourself, you are doing it for your friend. You will be less likely to say "oh I won't go today" if you know that someone you like and care for is counting on you to be there. You will also perform harder and better if you have a friend watching you. Once you have these pieces of the puzzle in place, start simply with six days of exercise - alternating days of cardio and weight lifting. Mon, Wed, Fri do 30 to 60 minutes of cardio exercise that will raise your heartrate and make you sweat. Do some online research about what cardio exercise is and what it is for. Tues, Thur, Sat do some weight lifting. I don't care if you are lifting 5 pounds or 45 pounds - the body needs muscle as we age; and if you are trying to lose weight, lifting weight aids in that process. Take Sunday off to rest and relax and refuel - if Sunday is not a good day for you to rest, pick a different day but do rest. Make up the schedule that works best for you and stick to it. If you try this for one week, you will find you can do a second week; if you make it through two weeks, you will be curious about a third week; if you make it past three weeks, you will look forward to your fourth week. It takes 28 days to break an addiction -- you just trained for 30 days and the addiction of being sedentary has been broken.

And let's talk about wasted time and energy. Have you ever been in a gym and seen a person on the stationary bike, reading a magazine and going so slowly that they may as well not be moving? Don't be that person. You don't want to give up time out of your day to waste it; you don't want to exercise to lose weight and not lose weight. That's just wasted time and wasted movement. There is no wasted time or movement here - only work and hard work. Get on that effing machine and sweat. SWEAT. Watch tv, listen to music, but don't allow it to dictate your speed and your (non) sweating. Work for this, dudes.

Now let's talk about food.

Marci (one of my best trainees and students) always says "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a duke and dinner like a pauper". That's a nice way of thinking about it -- except you want to eat more than three times a day. You want to eat every 2 to 3 hours. Small meals. Small portions. If you are looking at a plate with three foods on it, no food should have a portion larger than the size of your hand. You should never eat until you are FULL (uncomfortable). You should always feel satisfied; never hungry, never full, just satisfied. Your body is a machine and must be fueled. That is what food is. It is fuel. If you don't put fuel in it every 2 to 3 hours, you crash. That's when you find yourself in the fridge at work stealing someone else's Entenmann's coffee cake. Fuel yourself. Don't even think about it. Set a clock on your desk at work. When it goes off, put something in the car. My body is a Rolls Royce. I do not put diesel fuel in my Rolls Royce. It has been over a decade since I ate a Hostess cake or Twizzlers or Cheetos. I'm not going to lie. I eat cookies. Now and then I treat myself to a cookie from -- I also eat my mother's cooking when I go home to Texas. It is usually breaded and fried; but it is my mother's cooking and she is my favourite cook and she won't be with me forever. So when the potatoes are mashed, I eat a small portion with a spoon of gravy. When the chicken is fried, I have a small piece. I observe portion control with a vengeance. I also have days during the year when I am unhappy and binge eat. This is my baggage and I fight with it every day; but I am a fighter and a champion and I will win. Every time. YOU can be that, too. We are all in control. Without control there is no power. And, ps, when i do go off my strict diet, I regret it later. When I put wheat or refined sugar into my body, I crash, my intestines hurt, and I feel depressed. And it hurts processing that garbage. It hurts from half an hour after I put it in my body until it reaches the point of exit. HURTS, man. So for 340 days a year, no diesel fuel in this Rolls Royce.

What kind of car are you?

There are lots of fad diets. Fooey. Stay away. Your goal is to RE-PROGRAM your thinking and your patterns. Re-program the way your body craves food. Re-program the way you eat. Prepare your own meals. Spend a month eating nothing but food you have made for yourself. Take the time out to do this for yourself -- take the time out to tell yourself that you love yourself by making yourself good things to eat. Do some online research on the foods you eat; find out what is in them, find out what is good and what isn't. Learn to use olive oil instead of butter. Learn to eat hamburger patties wrapped in lettuce or tuna salad wrapped in lettuce, rather than served on bread. Find a pizza alternative. Find a pasta alternative. Find an alternative for your sweet tooth.

Ask for help.

Go on FACEBOOK and look up!/LearnToLiveFit!/CoachJimmy

or any other health and fitness professionals and get their advice and benefit from their knowledge. They and others online are health and fitness PROFESSIONALS. I'm just a guy who lost 60 pounds and acts like he knows what he is talking about. They have the real low-down. Talk to them.

Now. I'll tell you how I eat and you can modify it for yourself. I wouldn't ask anyone to live the way I live. We are all different people. We have different standards and different needs. Find what works for you.

Like Marci said -- breakfast: king/lunch: duke/dinner: pauper. Do six or so small meals a day. Start with something that will fuel you. During winter months Pat and I eat oatmeal -- not the instant kind -- we get whole rolled oats or irish steel cut oats and we boil them down in water and eat them (he puts warmed up soy milk on his, I use protein powder). In the warm months we have eggwhites with diced up chicken breast and peppers and with homemade salsa on top. We eat until we are satisfied and we get on with our day. My friend Dan scrambles eggwhites with turkey breast, tomato and basil. I do that sometimes; it's delish. A couple hours later, have a snack. Maybe a turkey burger (no bread) or some chicken meatballs; Pat likes hardboiled eggs (he throws away the yolks) with homemade salsa. At lunch, a chicken breast or a piece of tilapia is good with some steamed broccoli or roasted asparagus. Spinach is good. Lettuces are good. Tomatoes are good. Around teatime, how about a handful of raw almonds? Or a granny smith apple? At dinner, how about a big salad? How about using orange slices instead of pouring a fatty processed salad dressing on it? How about a tablespoon of olive oil instead of a quarter cup?

Eating healthily isn't brain surgery. It doesn't really even require a lot of thought or research: just common sense. We ALL know what is or isn't good for us. We just don't want to think about it. Go online and see if there are any episodes of JAMIE OLIVER'S FOOD REVOLUTION you can watch. Watch them and find out what is in the food we eat. You will be appalled. Common sense. Here are some of my rules:

--I don't eat wheat. It makes me sick.
--I don't eat refined sugar. It makes me sick and it makes me fat. (the workout guru Jackie Warner always says "sugar is the devil" and I agree.)
--I don't eat processed food. The things they do to make food last in a wrapper longer than a week; the things they do to make foods fat free or sugar free; the things they do to make foods processed -- you may as well ingest plastic.
--I don't eat dairy. Now and then I have cheese but it has to be real cheese and nice cheese - no kraft, not Cracker Barrel.
--I don't eat white, starchy foods. Use your brain. Wheat turns to insulin, turns to sugar, turns to fat. No white bread, no wheat bread (and even though people say eat whole wheat it is better for you - you are TRYING to lose weight; why do you want to eat wheat at all?). No pasta. Too bad. I love pasta. NO. PASTA. No white potatoes. NO. NO. NO. Do some online research about the difference between simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Educate yourself about what you are doing to your body. Learn how MUCH sugar and simple carbs are in corn and carrots and how much healthier green vegetables and sweet potatoes are -- try a new vegetable now and then. Expand your experiences.
--I don't eat food that requires chemistry. I tell myself: if it exists in life, I'll eat it. If it requires any kind of chemistry, I don't want it. So there is no room in my world for Cheetos, Ruffles, Cheez Whiz, Twizzlers, etc. There is barely even room for food that requires baking or leavening. That's chemistry. There is so much GOOD, HEALTHY food that is also TASTY -- you don't need that stuff.

One of my students asked me about some processed cheese and I said "why not just go buy a nice piece of cheese? Why do you need something that has been processed to the point of where it isn't even cheese?" The student said they preferred that cheese. The thing is: it isn't cheese. It hasn't even been held in a human hand and walked past a cow. If you want cheese, go to the deli or the gourmet store and get a piece of cheese. Live your life. But do it with some sense and some dignity.

I love popcorn. I eat it sometimes. Pat buys organic popcorn and peanut oil and organic salt and pops us yummy delish popcorn. What is that shit that comes in a package that you microwave? What is that chemical shit that makes it taste like butter?

I like potato chips. Real potato chips. I can't eat them. Eat one and I may as well eat them all. But now and then, at a party, as I am headed for the door, I will eat one and get the hell out of dodge.

I love those This Chick Bakes cookies. A few times a year I will get one (ONE) and eat it. But I know where they come from. I know they are made with all natural ingredients. I also know how to eat one (ONE) and keep moving. And I NEVER do it while I am trying to lose weight. When I go on a 'rip back' so I can have all my muscles popping, I don't cheat. At. All.

Find the ways to get around your food addictions. Use your brain. Retrain your brain. Retrain your body. THINK.

Fool your psyche into thinking you just ate a huge, fattening meal. Make your jaws do the work. Make a snack into a meal. Put several leaves of romaine lettuce (which, by the way, I eat by the leaf - it's delicious) on a plate, grind some fresh pepper on it, put some slices of crunchy sweet red, yellow and orange peppers on the leaves and some slices of crunchy granny smith apples. It's a HUGE plate of food! It's crunchy! You will feel, in your mind, like you've had a big, filling, meal. It's all natural. It's all healthy.

You want an ice cream? Fool your brain. Get some bananas when they are still a little green. Slice the top off the stalk and invert the bunch of bananas into a small bowl and set it in the kitchen window, in the sunlight.. When the first brown spots begin to appear, peel the bananas and put them into freezer bags. Freeze them. The water in the window process makes them ripen sweeter. Once frozen, you can grab one and eat it when you want an ice cream. It's like a popsickle.

You want tuna salad? Throw away your Hellman's mayonaisse and the jar of sweet pickles. Get SOLID WHITE tuna IN WATER and make it with some yellow mustard and diced up granny smith apples. Take wraps with lettuce. It's delicious and less fattening than a tuna salad sandwich.

Fact: Alcohol will make you fat. Sugar, sugar, sugar. Fat, fat, fat. I don't expect people to not drink. It's yummy and it's fun. Just recognize what you are doing when you do drink. It's common sense.

There are a lot of questions. There are a lot of answers. Take some time out to do some research. Ask the questions. Write down the answers. Keep a food and exercise journal so you can go back and refer to it and see what you have done, what you are doing, what works for you, what doesn't; chart your progress. Just remember these simple rules:

--You are worth this effort. You are worth the work. You are CHOOSING YOURSELF. You are respecting and loving yourself and that is where respect and love begins.
--You cannot lose weight and be healthy with just diet or just exercise. The two MUST be used TOGETHER to live a healthier life.
--THINK. Most of what you are doing is nothing more than common sense.
--When you don't know: ASK. There is always someone at the gym who will be more than happy to help; and they aren't judging you -- they respect your decision to be healthy. They respect your choice of YOUR SELF.
--Just because something is sold in a health food store doesn't mean it is, necessarily, all that healthy.

Ok, this story is getting way too long. There are some video blogs on my blog, my Facebook page and our Youtube page with some of the recipes I use to stay healthy; they are called Food For Thought. Check them out if you like, or find others online that you will like. But do wake up every day and opt to choose yourself. Ok?





Here is a video blog on this topic:


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