Monday, December 29, 2014

Putting Out Fires...The Millennial Health Movement!!!

When I find myself waxing philosophical with a member of a prior generation, that of my parents or beyond, the conversation turns towards generational differences and most notably the focus begins to take shape around the poor and useless condition of the generation that includes millennials like myself. 

As a generation we are often described as entitled, lazy, mooching tech addicts with unrealistic career expectations and an abysmal work ethic.  It only seems right to be described this way by the prior generation because going back hundreds of years this seems to be the signature rhetoric when the baton of leadership is passed from the older to the younger. 

However, there is a need to take stock and evaluate these remarks and the true impact that these two vastly different groups have had or will have on the future of health and our society.  And a perfect way to begin this assessment is to invoke the true words of Billy Joel in his song “We didn’t Start the Fire”.  This is a perfect anthem of a new generation, especially pertaining to the health and fitness of our nation. 

In the early 1970’s the USDA began a campaign that was unofficially known as the “Cheap Food” campaign.  This movement encouraged farmers to overproduce commodity crops like corn, soy, rice and cotton in order to drive the price down and take the lion’s share of the global market.  Well this policy worked well with that regards and in many periphery countries it is cheaper to purchase US based commodity products than those that are grown locally.  The domestic side effect is that these high calorie foods became so cheap that we began making everything with them.  We use these crops to feed our food animals, which has been shown to cause a higher instance of salmonella in meat products.  They are used to create additives like hydrogenated soy bean and corn oils, aspartame, high fructose corn syrup and maltodextrin.  All of which are used as either flavor or texture additives that we have come to learn our bodies are extremely mal adjusted to consuming resulting in chronic disease and obesity.

Beyond this, the choices of our parents’ generation to alter the traditional nuclear family brought about a revolution in meals cooked outside the home.  A famous Kentucky Fried Chicken ad from the seventies attempted to tie their food to the women’s movement by declaring “Women’s Liberation…Don’t Worry About It, We’ve got you covered…We’ll Do the Cooking!”  Ever since these fateful words were placed on large billboards the traditional family meal has become one that is mobile, to-go, wrapped in greasy paper and on average 200-300 calories higher per meal than traditional home cooked meals.

This is not meant to infer that the world’s health crisis is solely a result of the choices made by our immediate predecessors, but to illustrate that usually the problems of one generation are resulted from steps taken by those who came before. 

There is a real reason we seem to have a sense of entitlement, come across as lazy or aloof and have a shortened life expectancy when compared to our parents and grandparents.  This is how we were raised.  And now is our opportunity to correct the course and move toward a culture of health and wellness.  Crop subsidies meant to keep the “Cheap Food” policy alive are no longer needed and a movement to subsidize crops that include healthy, whole fruits and vegetables is long overdue.  We have the power to make choices with our dollars that force real change within corporate giants like McDonald’s, who are scrambling with ever increasing urgency to change their face to mirror chains like Chipotle to attract millennials who have shunned the fast food giants of old. 

Take the opportunity you have to educate yourself about healthy lifestyles and the obstacles to reaching your potential.  Education is a tool through which you can change who you are inside and out and these changes will be mimicked by the next generation.  All we have to do is teach them what we know and we can put out the fire that’s been burning “since the worlds been turnin!!”

Happy Running!!!

Rob and Jess

Thursday, November 20, 2014

It is SO Expensive to Get Fit and Healthy, Diet Pills and Shakes and Memberships, OH MY!!!

We live in an age of ultra-consumerism.  It is a well-documented fact that each day the average American is subjected to close to 5,000 advertisements.  A significant section of these ads tend to be directed towards those looking to make a healthy change in their life.  Ads for nutritional supplements, shake mixes, diet pills, fad diets and gym memberships represent just a few of the types of health and fitness based advertisements we are subjected to each day.  No wonder the commonly held perception that it is too expensive to live healthily persists.

The problem with many of the products and services that are sold to us through popular media is that many of them make claims that could never be substantiated by science.  Often times diet pill retailers over promise and under deliver on results.  Fad diets are usually debunked and shown to cause more health problems than they correct.  Gym memberships trap you for a contracted length of time, so whether you use the facility or not you are forking over your hard earned money for as long as two years.  As for shake mixes and nutritional supplements, some of them deliver on the nutritional promises they make while others fall flat.  Even for the products that deliver on their promises they are often too expensive to keep purchasing for a long term.    

Given the inundating nature of advertising in our society it can seem impossible to see a path to health and wellness when the horizon is clouded with misleading billboards and electronic marquees.  However, the path does exist and it does not require an expensive gym membership or hundreds of dollars per month in pills, shakes and supplements.  The way forward becomes clear through the acumen of information.  Many people ask me what my most valuable advice would be to someone just beginning a journey to wellness and consistently my responses include; learn to cook your own food in your own kitchen and become informed about nutrition and the social forces that drive us to keep living in the fast food lane.  

Recipes and home workouts are easy to come by online, all it takes is a quick search.  And for those who are concerned with the additional food cost in eating a healthful diet, this concern becomes much easier to manage once you realize that the good, whole foods you are eating (costly as they may be) are much less expensive than your blood pressure medication, insulin shots, Metformin, or allergy medicine. 

Running, cycling, tennis, cross-fit and simple walks are all great examples of activities that are free or nearly free that you can become engaged in that will propel your physical activity and the more you learn about cooking and nutrition the less you have to rely on “Shake-ology”, supplements, and claims of “eat all you want and still lose weight”.

Make the decision to begin and each day make the decision to continue.  Once the decision is made you will find a way via becoming knowledgeable to accomplish your goals. 

Happy Running!!

Rob and Jess

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Keeping the Lights On in the Fog

It is 3am on a red-eye flight from New York to Denver an there is heavy fog settled over the Mile-High city. The biting cold of the pre-winter air provokes the escape of ominous seeping clouds of mist from the warmer streams, estuaries and lakes across the Front Range.  As the pilot makes his approach, he is on edge as he knows that the runway lights are not visible and he is keenly aware that his booked flight is carrying 176 souls of all ages.  His nerves are soothed and his focus narrows as he executes a series of actions directed by a community of air-traffic controllers.  The aircraft breaks the ceiling and the runway lights become visible just seconds before the rubber of his landing gear make their shrieking embrace of the indifferent concrete. 

Without a built in system to support his efforts, it would be considerably more difficult for the pilot to remain calm in the face of uncertainty.  Sometimes, it is too much to ask that we trust our own skills and experience to get us through the challenges that present themselves each day.  Even the most capable of us experience moments of doubt, pain and fear.  Our fears, however, are as indifferent to our feelings as the concrete is to the planes safe landing. 

We are not all so fortunate to come equipped with a transportable system of support like our pilot.

Single mothers and fathers tend to be resulted from an upbringing at the hands of a single parent.  As many of us have learned from 60 Minutes, Nightline or 20/20, problems within the family institution tend to be repeated generationally.  As children grow into adults and succumb to the self-fulfilling prophecy of struggle they find themselves without a strong support system.  It would surprise most of us though to hear that this problem, of being without a strong support system, is not relegated to single parent families.  The demands of society require that as individuals we work irregular hours, more hours, for a greater number of years, and at a lower wage relative to our cost of living than the previous generation.  As a result young families (single parent or not), who at one point had parents/grandparents who were retired and able to provide support through their contribution of time, have very little physical support from family. 

Families today can and do offer emotional and symbolic support.  However, there are times in life that we need more than a cheerleading section to help us make our way, and given the demands of society it is becoming harder for individual units within a family group to support themselves much less offer time or material to members outside of their household.

Conditions exist at any given time for your own runway to become clouded, your path in life to become littered with distractions and refuse.  But only when you have a strong community surrounding you, one that is devoted to talking you through the fog and keeping the runway lights on, is it possible to see and maintain the path to which your feet have been set. 

The best way to discover your own support network is to become part of a system that is working to support others.

Happy Running!!!

Rob and Jess

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Living on 1200 Calories...Without Starving

One of the greatest myths to changing your lifestyle to facilitate weight-loss is that you must starve yourself in order to gain results.  This is an exaggeration made by people who really are not well informed as to the right way to do this. 

For the better part of two years I survived on about 1200 calories per day.  When I say this to people their immediate response is one driven by the aforementioned myth.  "Weren't you hungry all the time?"  No.  We very rarely experienced hunger pangs that would send us into a ravenous tizzy.  As a matter of fact I don't think that ever happened.  We didn't experience the feeling of starvation, not because we claim to be awesome superheroes with powers of restraint and will that far exceed those of your average mortal, rather it’s because we went about this with an informed method to reducing our caloric intake.

To explain this you have to understand that all calories are not equal.  This is true at least as it pertains to a calories ability to keep you satisfied.  You can think about it in a way that would characterize any food you eat into two categories; those being slowly digested and those being quickly digested.  There are a number of factors that contribute to whether something is digested quickly or slowly.  Foods that are high in fiber tend to slow the absorption of calories and sugars from the foods you eat and these foods tend to take longer to move through your system.  Lean proteins are also slow to uptake, primarily because the enzymes needed to digest proteins live in your intestines.  So these proteins will pass more or less intact into your intestine before they begin to break into smaller components and this tends to slow the process of digestion for anything else consumed with it.  Complex sugars are also slower to digest than simple sugars and foods like whole grains and vegetable based starches are very fibrous and contain parts that we can't digest at all. 

So what does all this mean?

Your body is still going to attempt to digest as much of the food as possible and if your system slows down to a crawl that means food empties from your stomach much slower and food remains in your gut being processed longer thus you are not going to be hungry quite so quickly after eating. 
The other component to this is that the foods that are high in lean protein, have complex sugars or high fiber content are typically lower calorie when compared to fatty proteins, simple sugars (table sugar, candy) and low fiber foods.  A good illustration of this would be to compare 200 calories of apples (high fiber and low fructose) with 200 calories of chocolate.  In my experience you could eat 3-4 gala apples to attain the same calories and sugar that you would from a single chocolate bar.  And I believe it goes without saying that the apples will keep you fuller longer as a result of the amount eaten but also because your body will take its sweet time and getting those apples through your system.

Jess and I never felt deprived because we approached our food choices from the perspective of understanding what effect different foods have on our bodies.  It has been said that the greatest source of inequality is the ownership and proprietary state of knowledge.  If you want to make a change in your life, educate yourself and set your feet on the equal footing we've all been promised.

Happy Running!!!

Rob and Jess

Friday, October 10, 2014

Life Goes On...Long After the Thrill of Livin' is Gone

In the song Jack and Diane by John Cougar Mellencamp, Mellencamp explains that “Life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone”.

It seems sometimes as we look around all we see is people going through the motions.  We live in a world that is so technologically amazing that it is plain.  We live at a time with so much violence and hatred that these things seem normal.  We work in an economy where the income gap has widened so much that we no longer reach for the stars.

The thrill is gone.  For many people who walk the halls past us at work or who are sitting next to us in the turning lane, this is their life’s summation.  At least, that is their perspective.  Is it any wonder that when the material thrills that were experienced by prior generations like family vacations, Disneyland, buying a home, etc… , slowly escape our financial reach, that we turn to the affordable thrills located in close proximity to our homes.  And our hometowns are full of local, cheap thrills.  Restaurants, bars, movie theaters and clubs are just a few examples of the type of thrill that comes much easier to your average American.  And these activities are increasing in their frequency for most of us.

This is a major factor for the increasing waistlines of millions of Americans.  The link between lower income and obesity has been well-publicized, however most people attribute this correlation to the type of foods that are affordable for folks who subsist on these lower incomes.  I would argue that a contributing factor to this correlation is the mere fact that for many of us since we can’t afford the fun being had on reality television, that we have replaced family trips with food, alcohol, drugs and a sedentary lifestyle. 

The thrill is alive and well.  For a growing number of people, like the people you see cycling to work, running at an absurdly early time or playing in the park with their kids, this is their life’s summation.  This is the perspective I’ve chosen to use as my looking glass into life.  Once we detach ourselves from the idea that to be entertained or to accumulate happy memories we must spend, what is too often, our hard earned yet increasingly meager earnings, a whole world of hope lies waiting to be discovered. 

In the song titled Blueberry hill by Fats Domino, exclaims, “I found my thrill on Blueberry hill”.  I have come to believe that blueberry hill is portable, and it represents the thrills in life that do not require a penny’s exchange for goods or services.  Giving or receiving a hug, listening to a child speak, making love with your partner…seeing the sun rise over the flatirons, covered in sweat, your heart ringing and racing…Seek these moments and BE in these moments, perhaps a whole new perspective will wash over you.

Happy Running!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Inside the Runner's Mind...Stream of Consciousness

Ok off to a good start not too fast, not too slow.  I’ll take it easy the first 2 miles and then kill the last 3 miles.  Just gotta maintain an 8 min pace in the first 2.  Don’t try and kill yourself.  Listen to your body.  We gotta hill comin up.  Attack it.  Put some spring on your backstep and drive up the hill.  Drive your knee forward.  Swing your arms.  Don’t twist your body.  Control your breathing.  Feeling tired.  Already?  No, your’e good, just workin into it.  It’s hot.  This is gonna be a rough run.  My Hammy feels a little tight.  There is the straining I keep feeling in my foot.  Keep going.  Adjust your stride.  Don’t stretch it too far.  Short choppy steps going downhill.  How’s the knee.  Good…Good!  I wonder if I’m close to my first mile.  Don’t think about distance.  Focus on the music.  Let your body run.  Don’t focus on mechanics.  Your body knows what to do.  8:11 for my first mile.  Good.  Not too fast.  I can press a little harder into number 2.  Get after it!  I am were I am supposed to be.  All the signs point forward baby.  Topic of my next paper.  Meat’s Correlation to Animalistic Behavior in Science fiction.  Where can I go with this.  Wave at this runner approaching me.  Ah I got a wave back, good etiquette sir.  Comin up behind another runner.  Alright pull it together.  Look like you know what you are doing.  Pass em like they standin still.  Good mechanics.  Keep it up.  Dinner tonight?  Where am I at for calories.  This run’s burning a good 1000.  I can tear it up at dinner tonight.  Gotta maintain yourself.  Don’t go nuts.  But when I get home I am definitely having a banana.  Maybe some raisin bread.  Run faster.  Get Home sooner.  Raisin bread.  God my hammy is really getting tight now.  I wonder what I did to it?  Maybe just over stretched when I was going down that first hill.  Shorten your stride.  Won’t hurt as much.  Was it this hot when I started.  I shouldv’e brought water.  It’s just like the Oatmeal’s comic.  Where the hell is MY vending machine full of sugary, satiating beverages.  Keep going, you’ll be fine.  Trust your body.  7:52 on my second mile.  You can do better.  Turn it up.  I wish I had a motorcycle.  I would make it look goooood!  Focus on the music.  It’s been a while since I’ve been in this part of town.  Lord, please let me not get creamed by a car.  Music. Music.  Life sucks.  Running sucks.  Why the hell do I do this?  It’s fun.  Yeah, okay.  Maybe I could be a professional athlete.  And a doctor?  Stranger things, big boy.  The best pace is a suicide pace.  Dinner Tonight?  Oh yeah gotta figure that out.  We’ve got beans…and nothing else.  Ok.  Store.  Eat out.  Too expensive.  Make Chili.  Perfect.  Bread.  No.  We’ve got jalapenos.  Good to go.  Mile 3 7:39 awesome.  Let’s keep it here until the last mile baby.  Keep going.  Ignore the pain in your foot.  These shoes have shit traction.  30 bucks!  Next time Merrell’s!  Maybe.  The pain in my hammy is gone.  Actually I’m feelin pretty good.  Not tired.  Not soar.  Maybe I can press a little harder.  Underpass.  Is it gonna cave in on me.  Nope.  I hate running up the other side of these things.  I hate this stretch of road.  I always feel like shit during this stretch.  It’s all in your head.  Yep.  Gotta another hill.  Too tired to spring.  Just trudge up.  Losing steam.  Alright on the other side.  I think that’s the last hill.  Downhill all the way home.  Music.  Music.  Johnny Cash.  I wonder if people would judge me if they knew Lady Gaga was on my playlist.  Turn down the volume.  I don’t want anyone to hear this.  Ok no one around.  Crank it.  I live for the applause, applause.  Woo.  Feeling pretty good.  Stretch it out.  Mile 4 7:36.  Good deal.  Last mile.  Get after it.  Make this a sub seven.  Sprint it out.  Outta breath.  Keep it going.  Oh this sucks.  Alright hit the reset button.  Slow it down a little.  Catch my breath.  Crank it.  Music.  Breathing.  Music.  Front door.  Coming up.  4.95 miles.  I guess I’m going around.  Can’t finish before 5 miles.  Alright on the dot.  6:52 mile 5.  Boom.  Good run.  Felt good.  This is why I do this.  Upstairs to get dinner goin.  Raisin bread.

Friday, September 19, 2014

New Miracle Superfood Cures Obesity, Diabetes, Laziness and Flattens Your Stomach…and Does Your Taxes!!!

If any of you are like me, you spend some time each day reviewing the Facebook or Twitter newsfeed for interesting posts, information, or funny/cute online videos (yeah, we all know they are a time waster, but come on, who can resist the mini-piglets eating a salad).  Each day as I engage in this shameful ritual I tend to notice posts that purport a food or a beverage that “melts belly fat”, “detoxifies your body”, “boosts immunity” or has some other to-good-to-be-true superpower.  Are these things really all they are cracked up to be?

The answer is no.  The human body and therefore human health are extremely complex and to take the whole of nutrition and health and funnel it down to “Drink this lemon water and lose your gut” is both extremely misleading to the public and somewhat discourteous to the body.  We’ve all seen them, they claim a shake or infused drink is going to be the catalyst to burning fat, looking younger or any number of zero evidence based claims. 

Additionally, we have come to be taught of the existence of superfoods.  Let’s review the types of food products we have labeled “super”; blueberries, blackberries, kale, spinach, acai, sauerkraut, avocados, pistachios, beans, broccoli, oats, oranges, pumpkin, salmon, soy, tea, tomatoes, turkey, walnuts, yogurt, etc...  There was a time that we called these food products something else, just plain ol’ food! 

So why have we been led to believe that heirloom tomatoes cure heart disease and foods possess super powers?

There are two reasons.  First, as a culture we have actually lost sight of what food truly is.  The foods we have become accustomed to are things like tacos, burritos, hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza etc…  These things are all really tasty, but they are decidedly not super, as a matter of fact many people who eat these kinds of foods report a feeling of sluggishness or lethargy soon after their meal.  So, these foods are what we have become accustomed to, to the degree that if you ask a child to identify a piece of produce in the grocery store it becomes a toss-up when trying to predict whether or not they can tell you.  As a result we have collectively come to call foods that make us feel energized and focused (isn’t that what food is supposed to do)…super! 

Additionally, from a social science perspective we tend to label everything around us in order to categorize and organize our world around us into easily understood symbols.  These symbols appear to us on traffic signs, through language and in the media.  This is a particularly good example of a label that we have affixed to natural foods that has been usurped by the media.  Advertisers are crazy about the “superfood” buzzword.  It is a concept that has been applied to many of the items that are examples of real whole foods.

The combination of losing sight of what food truly should be and the recent uptick in pseudo-science based claims about the potential of food to cure everything from zits to failing marriages leaves us with a difficult task in sifting through the garbage.  But, if you understand that your body is a dynamic complex interplay of systems that needs an array of vitamins, sodium, potassium, cholesterol, fats, sugars and proteins you can begin to think of the fueling of your body not in terms of seeking the one miracle food that will get the job done, but in terms of picking the items your body needs and loves throughout the day; this will result in a perspective shift.

And by the way, it is okay to order a pizza once in a while, just make sure the next meal gives you an array of the stuff your body will appreciate a little more.

Happy Running!!

Monday, September 8, 2014

How Do I Get My Kids to Eat Healthily?

Why have our girls been so flexible as to eat without complaint any new food we’ve placed in front of them?
This is the question I’ve tried to come to terms with since it was first put to me a few weeks ago through social media and after some deep thought I feel like I’ve got an explanation.
From the time our kids were born we had taken on the attitude and the role as the ultimate authority in our home.  We made it our goal and purpose, not to become our child’s best friend and playmate, but to be good parents!
As far as I am concerned a good parent is one who simply teaches their kids the proper way to behave and think like a human being.  I’ve always regarded my kids as unfinished people.  I would joke (kind of) about our kids when they were small that they weren’t people, but “people-in-training”.  And for those who might be reading this who might have taken classes or might have experience in leadership, you might know that the most common ways to train employees or a team involve both positive and negative feedback.  Basically, you praise people when they do well and adhere to their training and correct them when they don’t.  The same holds true of our philosophy concerning child-rearing. 
As THE parent I feel I am in the position to decide what foods we serve for dinner, unless, as a rare treat, the kids get to pick their meal as a reward for something they accomplished.  This means that most nights the “people-in-training” will eat what we provide them.  Well, what happens when they refuse to eat what you’ve given them?  If the child decides they will not eat what we have provided, I simply explain to them that we will not be making them anything else to eat and if it is their decision not to eat; well they can look forward to breakfast.
Hunger is an incredible tool of persuasion, furthermore, it is instinctual for a person or any other organism to eat when they are hungry.  So before I get responses to this piece declaring my ineptitude as a parent for allowing my kids to starve you must understand that I have never had to put a kid to bed without dinner more than once.  Hunger is so powerful a tool that once your child understands that you are not afraid to let them go without, they will hesitate to challenge you again.
So to summarize, we never considered how we would get our kids to eat the healthier options that we were providing and we didn’t ask for their opinion.  These were the changes we were making and we trusted that if there were any objections they would be easily quelled through our stubborn refusal to be bullied by our children and the physiology of hunger. 
Parents…you are in charge, don’t be afraid to let your kid go hungry if they decide not to conform to your eating habits.  Not only will they survive a night without dinner (and trust me they will, especially if kiddo is carrying some extra weight themselves) but you will also be making a powerful statement to their “person-in-training” brain that you are in charge and you WILL stick to your guns.
And do not be swayed by tears, you must remind yourself that the changes you are making are not just for your own health but, as your kids look to you to learn how to become a person, it is for their improved health as well. 
It is better to have them upset with you now than to be forced to bury them before their time!!
Happy Running!!
Rob and Jess

Thursday, September 4, 2014

GMO? HELL NO!...But, why not?

There seems to be a fair amount of confusion as to what this term actually means and why there is such hot debate regarding their use and labeling.

First, let's clarify what these are.  GMO's or "Genetically Modified Organisms" does not refer to plants created as a result of lab or natural hybridization. Many times, I have seen it argued that if you are anti-GMO then you must be anti strawberry because the modern day strawberry is actually a result of a cross pollination of two wild species that took place many decades ago. This is wrong. GMO's are resulted from modifying the DNA of an agricultural crop. By removing or altering specific genes companies like Monsanto have been able to engineer things like soy to withstand more and more potent pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.

See over the last several decades weeds and fungus have become stronger and more resilient to traditional chemical killers of these organisms and thus Monsanto (who also manufactures commercial and residential "ROUND-UP") and others have been forced to increase the potency of their chemicals to manage crop invaders. GMO crops that have been treated with these high potency chemicals are so toxic that immediately after treatment those working in and around these crops are advised to steer clear of the plants due to their high toxicity and carcinogen content. So, of course this raises health and environmental concerns.

See here in Boulder we have the Boulder Creek and it is well documented that fish and other critters living in the creek have been feminized (meaning boy fish are losing testosterone and more female eggs are hatching) over the years as a result of hormone inhibitors contained in pesticides in crop run off. There are many reasons these chemicals are harmful and should be closer regulated.

So in essence a GMO soy bean or corn kernel in and of itself is not a bad thing, the danger comes as a result of the reason they were altered in the first place...

Speaking Your Body's Language

You can't help but engage in the kinds of changes Jess and I have and not learn a few things about your own body. And one of the things we've discovered is how truly incredible the human body is. We have learned to communicate (in a way) with our bodies to tell it what we need from it and it will communicate what it needs from you.

Your body requires fuel to keep all of it's processes running. Everything from voluntary motor functions like walking, speaking, running, cycling etc.. to the smallest involuntary functions like cellular division and hormone production requires energy from the food we take in. How your body spends the energy you consume, though, is subject to input from ourselves. If you work at a job that requires you to sit in front of a computer screen all day and you go home and sit in front of the television at night you are sending signals to your body that these are the normal functions that must be fueled and so your body will reallocate energy that would be used for building muscle, bone density and cardiovascular health to other areas of the body such as to nervous system functions and the immune system. Eventually, these systems get so much energy that they become over active and cause a wide array of health problems.

Now on to the good news...if you begin telling your body than in addition to the hours of sitting it must be ready to tackle it must also devote energy to build up your endurance and support systems to take in a 30 min walk once a day, your body will begin funneling that excess energy to building up the parts that contribute to making it possible to complete those walks. Furthermore, if you tell your body that instead of walking 30 minutes a day that you will be running for 10 minutes and walking for 30 it will devote energy to ensuring you can carry out these activities at a proficient level.

Here's the thing folks, we all have different starting points when it comes to taking on a lifestyle change. Get started doing something each day that pushes your body toward your threshold for effort and over time your body will respond in a very positive way. Forget people telling you that (fill in the blank) exercise is bad for your knees, joints, heart, head, feet or whatever. Anyone that tells you that exercise can be detrimental to any part of your body is making excuses for their own lethargy.

Trust your body and Happy Running!!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Learn to Cook...Lose Weight and Gain Much More!

It is a common theory among biologists and anthropologists that the catalyst that propelled our species from nature to culture was our having learned to cook our food.  Cooking our food, when we were living in foraging societies, became a way to detoxify our food and thus made many more nutritional options available to us.  Cooking also makes the things we eat more digestible and the nutrients more readily available.  To paint a comparison, consider other primates; who tend to spend up to 6 hours a day chewing their food.  This rigorous chomping is meant to help our evolutionary cousins to compensate for the toughness of their food and to extract as much nutritional value out of their limited options as possible. 

Why is this important?

It’s meant to illustrate the importance of cooking to our collective human culture.  It was with the advent of cooking that we were freed from hours of intensive chewing.  This made eating and digestion a much more energy efficient process.  Cooking also gave us a social focal point and gathering place to consume our meals, providing us the foundation to establish common ideas and practices with our larger group, thus establishing the first forms of culture.  Gathering around meals continued to hold a high level of importance in social interactions even through the 20th century. 

We are, according to some, at the cliffs edge of losing this opportunity to foster intellectual and emotional growth through cooking.  Many believe we are beyond the point of retribution when it comes to cooking our meals, and the result could be the end of humanity.  Not in the zombie apocalypse sort of way, but the end of what we consider to be the crucial aspects of ourselves that make us more human than animal.  The more we outsource our cooking to large food companies, the less our cultural values are nurtured; we spend less time at the table with our families and lose out on crucial opportunities to teach our culture through cooking to the next generation. 

In the H.G Wells classic The Time Machine, the Time Traveler theorizes that the race of beings he encounters in the distant future, being dullards and physically feeble, is the result of mankind’s nearly constant push to improve the comfort and quality of our lives through engineering the world around us.  Basically, we became so effective at improving our situation that we left nothing to improve and therefore we lost the ability to rationalize and perform the most basic physical tasks as there was no need for these skills. 

This is, in fact, what we are accomplishing by outsourcing our cooking, we are ridding ourselves of a skill we no longer deem necessary as a result of the convenient world that surrounds us.

This social shift is also having a tremendous impact on our health and waistlines.  By leaving cooking to companies that specialize in high fat, high sugar foods we have turned foods that were once-in-a-while foods to items that we consume daily.  Journalist Michael Pollan gives french fries as an example.  To make french fries at home, first, you need to cut the potatoes.  Then, they need to be dropped in a vat of hot oil (often times using a whole bottle of oil, which for many seems a waste).  Next you remove the fries and allow them to drain.  Once they have drained you need to re-submerge the fries in the hot oil to give them their final crisp.  Once all that is done, you season the fries and attempt to clean oil splatters off of your stove-top, your counters, your backsplash, your vaulted ceilings, refrigerator, cabinets, toaster, kids and just about anything else within a 100 feet radius of the popping oil. 

The idea here is that if we force ourselves to cook everything we eat, we make different/better food choices as a result of how difficult it is to prepare fried foods and other fast food staples. 

When we outsource our cooking, we are losing precious time with our family and an opportunity to teach our kids how to cook and eat well.  Furthermore, with every bucket of chicken or bag of burgers we order through the drive-thru we lose a piece of our collective cultural knowledge.  This trend has also turned foods that we consumed now and again to daily staples, effecting our health in a way that could result in the next generations suffering a decreased life expectancy and that is a step backwards we haven’t taken, in western culture, in as many as ten generations.

“The best diet plan in the world, eat anything you want, just cook it yourself”-Michael Pollan

Happy Running!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Absolution at Mile 9

In this day and age it is very easy to be too hard on ourselves.  Each day, there are issues and concerns that exist in our periphery awaiting their opportunity to consume us.  The familiar cast of characters include concerns about our jobs, our future, the future of our children, our finances, relationship issues and a whole host of very specific concerns that feel uniquely yours.  When they close in on you it is very easy to feel alone, isolated and desperate.  Being that there tends to be this near constant battle between ourselves and these demons we have become very skilled at masking the feelings these things illicit.  We walk down the street and try very hard to look happy and productive…like everyone else.  And we fool everyone, including ourselves.

One of the reasons that running has filled me with such passion is that when you are in the midst of the physical pain it becomes impossible to maintain the fa├žade that masks our fears worries and inhibitions.  I know that to many who might read this, this concept sounds strange.  Why would we want to confront our demons?  What purpose does it serve to let these tormentors see the light of day and engage them in battle? 

During my long run this last Sunday, as I waged war with my body, the elements and my mind, I came to the realization that despite the laundry list of failures I can attribute to my poor choices which include failures as a father, a husband, a son, a brother and a citizen of this lucid and wondrous nightmare that we desperately cling to each day; that my past transgressions did not matter in that moment.  I found myself drifting into a place of sheer euphoria, all around me the world seemed to moving very deliberately.  The sun was setting bringing me relief from the 90 degree heat.  The horizon opened up before me and beckoned me toward it promising absolution in the form of an embrace of a dear friend.  I felt for many moments relief from the despair that is resulted from consummating ourselves with our worries.  My whole body tingled as the realization hit me that I have the opportunity to learn from my mistakes and be a better father, be a better husband, a better son, a better brother…and a better example. 

Then I thought about my daughters, and felt confident that someday I would be worthy enough to be called their hero!!!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Hitting "The Wall"...Explained!!!

If you have ever engaged in any sort of intensive cardio work or have had conversations with friends or family that engage in the sort of madness Jess and I have become addicted to, you are probably familiar with the concept of “THE WALL”.  As most people describe it the wall is a point in your workout where you feel utterly spent, exhausted, desperate and forlorn.  It is the point during your workout where you think “I need to call Jess and have her come pick me up in the air-conditioned car after stopping for delicious, cold, sugary beverages or I’M GONNA DIE!!”  It is also during this time that the voices protesting your efforts become the most shrill and persuasive.  And, it is something we all encounter regardless of fitness level.

So what is this “WALL”? 

The human body produces energy from a variety of sources.  These include blood sugars, glycogen (this is a form of sugar/carbs stored in your muscles) and fat stores.  These sources are used to produce energy at different points during an intensive workout. 

When you decide to go for a run or hop on the bike or jump feet first into whatever cranks your gears, your body fires the starter’s gun for all of these sources to begin to convert to usable energy.   The first few minutes are fueled largely by sugar that is most easily accessible to your cells, meaning it is the sugar that is already present in your blood.  Now, this is a very “short burst” sort of resource because sugars burn very quickly and are meant for high intensity, short interval activity.  This resource can be exhausted in as little as a few minutes.  At the same time your cells begin taking in glucose from your blood stream, it begins to extract glycogen (those handy carbohydrate reserves) to convert to usable energy.  Now glycogen conversion usually takes a few minutes to begin to kick in, so in some instances people describe hitting a mini version of the wall very early on their workout, this wall represents the difference in time from the point your blood glucose levels are depleted to the point in time that you begin receiving energy as a result of burning your glycogen stores. 

For most folks glycogen stores are ample enough to carry you through at least 15-20 minutes worth of work, and for endurance athletes who are well trained in the disgustingly gluttonous practice of carbo-loading these stores can last up to around 90 minutes. 

The whole time your body is converting and burning all these sugars, the engines are warming up to begin burning fat.  To make this whole thing less complex, we won’t go into detail regarding why it takes so long for fat conversion to get rolling (maybe we’ll save that for another day when I am feeling like not getting any clicks or page views), but it is no coincidence that it can take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes (again depending on fitness level) for your body to begin using available fats for fuel.

Hopefully at this point the pieces are coming together just a little bit.  If the first mini-wall experienced by many folks is the few minutes between the exhaustion of blood sugar and the beginning of conversion of glycogen, then “THE WALL” (the real wall, the one that makes us question all that we hold dear) is our physiological response during the agonizing minutes between the exhaustion of our glycogen stores and the beginning of the conversion of fat to energy. 

Now here is the good news, as agonizing as these walls are, if you can manage to silence the voices telling you that there is no point in continuing, and to stop torturing yourself…your eventual absolution is the elusive “high” that many athletes describe as being experienced during the later stages of their work.  This is the point at which you feel invincible, you feel empowered and when you finish…Rainbows are brighter, trees are greener, the air smells sweeter and…your high is complete with a case of well-deserved munchies!!!

Happy Running!!!

#hittingthewall #cardio #endurancesports

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Links For Our 15 Minutes of Fame.

Here are the links to our Good Morning America appearance, as well as our local 9 news piece and finally the CNN Weekly Weigh-In that made our summer REAL inturestin!!!

The Story...How We Done It

Part 1    

     Over the last two weeks I have received e-mails from hundreds of folks from all over the world asking our advice and yearning to learn how we managed to lose weight and get fit while the rest of the world seems to be drowning in greasy, genetically modified, fatty, sugary "false foods" like those that might be purchased at your local McDonald's.

      So I'll start out by saying a little bit about being mentally prepared to take on this journey. It seems to me that many people want to lose weight/get healthy but are very reluctant or downright obstinate about changing their eating habits. This is the reason why many "diet" pills are so popular. They claim to help you lose weight even with no diet and no exercise. These products are by far and away false idols giving false hope. In order to be truly prepared to take on a task like Jess and I undertook you must be ready to change who you are from the inside out, you must change your relationship with food and in many cases (like mine) change your identity to accommodate a healthy lifestyle. Here is the reason why, let's say you plan to take a diet pill or get on some crazy fad diet to lose weight. These things are always meant as temporary solutions because in most cases fad diets and pills will be MORE detrimental to your health if taken long term than the extra weight you're carrying around. The thing is your body NEEDS fats, sugar, salt, carbohydrates, minerals, etc...and if you deny your body these things it becomes nutritionally starved and seeks sources of these things internally thus ravaging your vital systems and muscles. You must be willing to take on PERMANENT changes to your eating habits and your personal identity in order to be ready to take the first steps.

Part 2    

     Once you have established that you're properly motivated to make permanent changes to not only your eating habits, but also with your relationship with food and how this affects your sense of identity, you need to set the appropriate goals.

    When we first set out on this change we made a conscious choice not to make our goal "weight-loss", instead we chose to make our objective to become fit and healthy role models for our children and our family. It may be difficult to comprehend the MASSIVE paradigm shift this represents. If your goal is simply to lose weight and you right down on your to-do list "Lose 60 pounds". Well this only encompasses a very small part of overall health, furthermore it is a goal that once you achieve it can simply be checked off the list. I believe the reason most people gain their weight back is that they put their goals behind them once they complete them, they then look out triumphantly on the horizon and see success and accomplishment, but what they don't see is their next step! This is the reason we chose a much more ambiguous goal like getting and maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle. This is a goal that is never one that can simply be checked off your list, it is always before you. Now along the way it is important to set short term goals around your eating habits and fitness. For instance, one of my "stepping stone" goals was to complete a 5k without walking. I set this goal in late 2012 after completing my first 5k in which I walked as much as a ran. The thought of finishing my next 5k with a better time and without slowing consumed me for months and drove me to run through fevers, knee and foot injuries, soar throats and general laziness (yes I still have to battle this one from time to time). Once I completed my objective in the next 5k I began looking at longer distances and pushing myself to run farther and farther until I completed my first marathon on May 18, 2014. Now running is/may not be for everyone, which is why it is incredibly important to pick the right kind of activity, find something that is fun and keeps you engaged through competition (my first attempt at exercise in spring of 2012 was playing tennis a couple times a week, something I enjoyed when I was young). But I will talk more about exercise in a later post.

     For those looking to get started make sure you set the proper goals, your main objective should be one that is pursuable long term and not easily crossed off your list and then support your objective with small/short term goals to push your eating habits and activity level to new places.

Part 3    

     Three years ago I believed whole heartedly that my food choices had very little to do with my size and my health. It is easy to be lulled into this false reality, the one where you say "I eat the same... as anyone else". However, once you reach the point where you understand what is going into your body, in what amounts and it's effects (be they positive or detrimental) you break free of a very ill informed perception of yourself and realize that you were consuming nearly double the amount of food and calories that is recommended. In a world where ones perception is their reality it is little wonder that so many people "struggle" with weight...and they will continue to struggle until they fully understand the impact poor nutrition is having on their lives.

      Like many who are overweight my daily food habits began with a poor choice and ended no differently. I woke up each day and sprinted out the front door having no time for breakfast. I would arrive at work and drink coffee loaded with creamer and aspartame until lunch. Lunch was normally snagged quickly from a drive thru and consisted of burgers and fries, burritos, chicken wings, or some other high salt, high fat wares. Dinner would either look strikingly similar to lunch or on days we cooked at home we made enough food that everyone in the household could (and would) eat 2 to 3 servings.

      We began making changes by simply reducing our portion sizes. We adjusted what we cooked to ensure a single helping at every meal and we played mind tricks to make us feel as though we weren't being deprived. For example, we began serving all of our meals on smaller plates and on the rare occasion we still ordered pizza we would slice all the pieces in half in order to provide us the same number of trips to the grease lined cardboard box our meal arrived in. The only food we cut out in the beginning was soda. Being that we were morbidly obese, these small changes were enough to get us losing, but two months later when we committed to eating breakfast every day our progress really took off. It took me those first two months to lose 15 lbs...after making a healthy breakfast part of my normal routine I began losing 15 lbs each month. And our breakfast habit is today what it was then. We eat high fiber cereals, oatmeal, toast, homemade breakfast smoothies or simply fruit...whatever it is we usually take in between 300 and 500 calories for breakfast.

      After having our initial success (after losing about 40 lbs in the first year I felt unstoppable) we began doing a lot of homework. We started reading everything we could about nutrition, agriculture, and epigenetics (how what we eat effects gene expression and metabolism). Based on the information we were taking in we made additional small changes to our eating habits. In 2013 we switched from whole milk to skim milk and began buying as many of our groceries as possible from organic sources. Late in the same year we stopped buying red meat. All the while we were learning about our food and how to cook it and we reached a point where 90% of what we eat we make ourselves (this has gotten nuts because I recently even started making my own bread, salad dressings and fermented foods). The reason it is so crucial that you make what you eat is so you understand what ingredients are in your food. You'll find yourself truly amazed when you realize that you can make at home with 5 ingredients what it takes food companies 30 ingredients to make.

      And now our general rule of thumb when at the grocery store is that if it contains ingredients we cant pronounce WE DONT BUY IT!!!

Part 4    

     My wife is a very prolific thinker and to her I credit one of the simplest and most intelligent things I've heard regarding having a healthy relationship with food. "Food was always a comfort for me, I grew up in a family where everyone equated food with love, and so when I felt depressed, angry, lost or frustrated I turned to the one thing in my life that a constant Now I have changed my perception of what food is supposed to provide. Food is fuel for our bodies and in order to get the best from your body you must put the right fuel in!"--Jessica Foster

Smart Woman!!!!

      As I began to touch on in my previous post we went through a period of intensive learning about food and nutrition. We learned about how foods communicate with our bodies. Here are some juicy little tidbits we learned.

1) Many of the "scary" diseases that or now commonly referenced on your local nightly news such as heart disease, diabetes, diverticulitis, fatty liver disease and other gastrointestinal diseases are resulted from or made worse by inflammation.

2) Inflammation takes place when your own immune system has been kicked into overdrive and begins to attack your own tissues such as arterial walls, pancreatic cells and intestinal tissues.

3) Your immune system kicks into overdrive when you take in more Omega 6 fatty acids compared to Omega 3's than is recommended. Foods high in Omega 6's include vegetable oil, canola oil and shortening.  Foods that are high in Omega 3's include Coconut oil, sunflower oils and other nut oils, nuts and legumes, fish (especially salmon) and nut butters.

4) Interesting side note, foods high in Omega 6's also send signals to your brain through gene expression to store fats. This signal is also sent when you eat simple sugars like refined sugar, refined white flour, white breads and basically anything you find in a supermarket bakery that is not whole grain.

5) Conversely, foods that contain complex carbs and are high in Omega 3's reduce inflammation (in effect eliminating or reducing the diseases mentioned above) and send signals through gene expression to burn fat stores.

      By adding whole grains and foods high in Omega 3's you can begin reversing the effects of a poor diet and reprogram your metabolism to burn fat stores instead of adding to them. So suffice to say these, are all changes we have made. It can be very cost effective to eat this way as well. You must do some reading and a little work to learn how to cook some foods that you might not have experience with, however, once we began buying our rice, beans, nuts and lentils from the dry goods section of the grocery store instead of buying them canned we saved a ton of money. A normal grocery trip for two weeks for a family of six costs us about $200.00 to $250.00. Here is a list of our staples.

      Dry Kidney Beans, Dry Pinto Beans, Dry Brown Basmati Rice, Dry Green Lentils, Several half gallons of soy or almond milk, Cereal (BTW this is not lucky charms, we buy cereals that have a higher fiber content than sugar, NATURE's PATH Sunrise Vanilla crunch is our favorite), Carrots, Celery, Bag of yellow onions, Bag of red potatoes, Kale, Spinach, Yellow Squash, Zucchini Squash, Cucumbers, Super Greens (this is a pre-packaged salad mix), Heads of garlic, Portobello mushrooms (large and baby), Brussels sprouts, Asparagus, Tomatoes, Avocados, Limes, Lemons, Apples, Bananas, Oranges, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Tofu, Seitan, Tempeh, Whole wheat breads, Whole wheat hamburger buns...The list goes on. But as I mentioned if you can use these ingredients from their raw/dry state to make simple delicious meals at home, not only will you lose weight and grow stronger, you will also save a ton of cash!!

Part 5    

     There is nothing special about Jess and myself, we have at our disposal the same tool that every other person in the world possesses. That tool is the highly complex and adaptable human body. Anyone can accomplish what we have, the only two differences from person to person is their starting point and how far they want to take it.

     Two and a half years ago the most exertion we could muster for intensive exercise was a 2-minute jog followed by a long walk gasping for breath and holding our sides in agony. We knew we would not be able to commit to a gym routine or forms of traditional, make you want to puke, hating life types of exercise. So, we decided to just start having fun. Jess enrolled in Zumba classes and for those of you who have never witnessed this phenomenal cardio workout, just imagine you are at a Latin wedding 3-4 time a week and have the opportunity to just dance your ass off. This is probably more appealing to the ladies than most men, however Jess had a couple of men in her class that shook loose some pounds. I on the other hand had grown up playing competitive sports and felt that by re-investing myself in some high energy sports activity I could stick with it. So I began playing tennis with anyone I could find that would be willing. I played at nearby public courts with my brother, my dad or Jess. As I began feeling more confident I even enrolled in an online tennis league. It was like a social network for people wanting to play tennis. I would post times I was available to play and seek others looking for those times and often times I would have folks find my profile and ask for a match. I spent the summer of 2012 doing this. Jess and I lost a significant amount of weight just doing these things combined with our smarter eating habits.

     Now, I am absolutely confident that had I decided to simply continue playing tennis I would have continued my success in getting fit and healthy. After all through that first summer we had lost a combined 70 lbs. just doing things we were having fun with. We began to incorporate other fun activities with our kids. We would go hiking, swimming and play basketball. We basically committed to doing what the kids wanted to do during play time and we had a blast.

     So here’s the deal, if you are telling your body day in and day out that all it needs to accomplish is to sit at a desk for eight hours a day, walk to lunch or home and sit in front of the TV; your body will devote just enough energy to accomplish those tasks. Now, I bet you are wondering what happens to al that extra energy, because after all we live in a world (at least in western culture) where we are also taking in too many calories. Well your body begins to store this energy in the form of fat and begins directing energy to your immune system. Well we’ve already covered that hyper-immunity is a bad thing that causes inflammation, resulting in a whole host of awful chronic diseases. BUT, if you begin to tell your body than in addition to all the lethargic activities it must accomplish during the day, that you need energy to play tennis, take a walk, play tag with your kids, go for a run, or any other activity you would like to begin. Your body will begin redirecting its incoming energy and energy stores to building the support systems required to do this, it will devote energy to building muscle, building bone density, building new blood vessels to enhance your O2 carrying capacity, and improving cardiac functions.

     We have grown to mistrust our bodies as a result of what we feel is a betrayal by our bodies in allowing us to reside in an enlarged, cumbersome and ineffective vessel. When in reality, we have betrayed our bodies by not allowing them to fulfill its true potential. Trust your body, it will respond when you begin to really communicate with it. This holds true whether your starting point is a 2 minute run or simply walking across the living room.

Part 6    

     Those who are successful in achieving their goals pull inspiration from many, many sources. They look around and see a million reasons for them to press on and to ignore the voices of doubt, fear and ...anxiety in their head telling them to quit and go eat a bowl of ice cream. As someone who has been accused of being inspirational, I have to say that I cannot be the reason that these voices are quieted in your head as you take on your challenges each day. I can be the reason you were filled with hope and decided to take the first step but you will realize that on your journey you will need to find other sources of energy and motivation, not the least of which will be the enormous well of inspiration you discover inside yourself. It’s time to be your own hero.

      In October of 2012, Jess decided that it would be fun to register her and me for our first 5k run. I was beyond elated (sarcasm) to discover that I would have the opportunity to confront the one activity that caused me embarrassment, pain and dread throughout my childhood…running!!
I had played football growing up and from a young age had aspired to one day weigh 300 lbs. and be an offensive guard playing in the NFL. Despite my athletic aspirations I hated running and every year when two-a-days began I would put my head down and barrel through, despite being last to cross the finish line in every drill we ran. So it was a special kind of anticipation that filled me in the weeks before the 5k.

      It may have been coincidental or something more, but around the same time I was coming to terms with 3.1 miles of pain, I was working for a bank and the man who hired me was a practiced endurance athlete. So during meetings we all heard about how his training was going for the upcoming Half Ironman (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run). During one meeting in particular he showed us a YouTube video of Dick and Rick Hoyt, a father and his disabled son who compete in Ironman competitions (look them up online, guaranteed tear jerker). Well, I added Doug and this video to my growing list of sources of inspiration. See Doug is only a little older than I am, works full-time and has a large family with many daughters (sounds familiar) and if he could do the things he was talking about then, I thought, so could I.

      It seemed as we approached the day of the 5k, I had a growing feeling that I had something to prove. I needed to complete this for my wife, my kids and as a way to thumb my nose at the people who looked at me like I was nuts or had tormented me as a kid when I couldn’t pass the conditioning tests. Interestingly enough when we completed the 5k this motivation didn’t abate, it grew stronger and still does. Every time I see someone who is running faster, longer or is in better shape than I am, it reminds me I have a lot of work to do and keeps me pressing the hill to get to the next level.

      Well this weekend Doug completed the Ironman Boulder (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run) and set the bar pretty high and so my next big challenge will be triathlons with the goal of working up to completing the Ironman within the next 5 years.

      Finding inspiration, keeping your goals ahead of you, and discovering a curiosity to see how far you can go are the keys to staying active and fit as you continue your journey. Jess and I don’t ever refer to our journey over the last 2 and half years as being complete, it is ongoing, it is changing and we keep ourselves right up against the limit of sustained effort our bodies can handle.  

Part 7    

      Finding balance means different things to different people and can mean different things to one person given the context of the term. In the last few months, I have strived to find balance in my diet and exercise routine sometimes encountering frustration, but ultimately leading to a better understanding of myself.

      After two years of working hard to cut cal
ories from my daily food intake it was a true challenge to balance my diet to ensure not only that I stopped losing weight but also refrained from gaining back fat weight. There are two reasons that this has been the most challenging part of my fitness journey. First, when you see the number on the scale drop each week, there is a feeling of exhilaration that is difficult to give up. Secondly, balance is hard to define even in this context because when you are eating a healthy, balanced diet with the proper number of calories your weight fluctuates drastically. On a given day the average person can have their weight fluctuate as much as 10 lbs. as a result of when food is eaten, the previous day’s nutritional choices and simple daily regimen. As a matter of fact even the act of showering can add weight before you jump on the scale. You can retain as much as 2 lbs. of water after showering. So of course the first week that I worked to normalize my calorie intake, the scale showed I had gained 7 lbs, I nearly ripped the electronic health machine at our grocery store from it’s wall socket out of the shear panic that consumed me. What I came to learn and just so everyone understands, this added weight it turns out was simply the accrual of food and nutrition in places like my GI tract, in my muscles in the form of glycogen and of course extra waste.

      I feel confident, at this point I have laid the foundation to the balance I have sought; the key to this has been listening to and understanding my body. It is a commonly held theory that food cravings are resulted from a deficiency in your daily nutritional needs. For instance, if you are craving salty snacks it could mean that you need more sodium in your diet and since in the western diet sodium is commonly and cheaply available in fast food and other poor food choices, this is where we look to satisfy these cravings. Here is the problem with this, most sodium you take in is in the form of MSG (mono-sodium glutamate). If you begin reading food labels (and I highly recommend you do) you will be astounded how many products contain MSG (a little known fact about MSG is that it is commonly used as an artificial means to spur rapid weight gain in lab animals). This is where the compromise comes in, you must retrain your body to accept the healthier sources of things like sodium, sugar and fats. Once you do finding balance is much easier because it is easier to listen to your body when it tells you what it needs.

      Hunger is a nature’s way of telling us it is time to eat. When you have reached the point in your journey that I have reached, it is important to begin to listen to these cues. Jess and I eat when we are hungry, and since we have eliminated from our home poor quality snacks, we are left to snack on things like nuts, fruit, and raw veggies with hummus or whole grain cereal. Once you have satisfied your hunger, then holding true to the ideology around listening to your body…you stop eating!!!

      Now this language sounds simple and of course I understand that in practice this is much harder, primarily because food companies have worked for the better part of the last century to make their food more and more appealing and so they have added the substances that we have evolved to crave. The last thing I will say, however, is that once you have managed through your own willpower to cut your portions, substitute the bad stuff for healthier options, become consistently active and push your body and mind to places you never felt you were capable of reaching; then using the one perfect tool (your own body) we have to ensure a lifetime of good health to guide you…should be easy(er)!!!

Happy Running!!!

Rob and Jess

Jess and I in December of 2011, a night out with friends

Jess and I getting ready to run the Bolder Boulder, the premiere 10k in the US, after a collective 280 lb weight loss.