Tag Archives: exercise

Diet and fitness: Simple ways to be healthier for yourself, your family and the kingdom PLUS bonus smoothie recipe update

Health and fitness aren’t just about appearance.  It is about feeling better, having more energy, being less of a burden to your family, saving money (health problems are very expensive), being a better servant for the kingdom, and more.

Nobody likes diet tips from lean people, so I never give them in person.  Hopefully it will be a safe thing to do via a blog.  I was blessed with a high metabolism, so I don’t assume that it is easy for everyone.  But I eat what I want, when I want, and never gain weight.  That was a real drag when I was young and obsessed with gaining weight, but it isn’t so bad now.

These may seem like obvious tips, but consider that there are so many horrible diet programs out there that promote all sorts of counterproductive behavior.

It is all about habits.  Going on and off diets makes the problem worse.  Obsessing about food also makes it worse.

Just do a lot of small things: Eat often (yea!), eat healthy things first, eat a little less, eat a little healthier and exercise a little more.  No fad diets.  No extreme workouts.  Just make some small but permanent changes to your habits.

Eat often.  Seriously, when I eat often I eat pretty healthy foods and don’t crave junk.  But the hungrier I get the more I crave things like McDonald’s.  Don’t let yourself get too hungry.

Eat healthy foods first.  They fill you up so you don’t eat as many bad things.  You can enjoy treats, but don’t start with them.

Eat smaller portions.  Humans were not meant to eat giant plate fulls of fatty foods along with multiple high-calorie beverages.  You should have leftovers from 90% of restaurant meals.

Getting regular exercise and sleep help your metabolism.  Exercise burns calories, increases metabolism and reduces your appetite, so even a little bit it helps you in three ways.  Ironically, sleeping too little has been shown to decrease your metabolism.  Exercise can be as simple as going for a walk a few times a week.  People set themselves up for failure when they assume it has to be an intense, daily, 90 minute ritual.

Find something you like well enough and do that.  It won’t feel so much like exercise.  My wife and I took up ballroom dancing a few years back.  It isn’t my primary exercise, but it does have a lot of benefits.  My point here is that I never think about it as exercise, just as one of my hobbies.  I’ve seen people lose tons of weight and get much more fit by ballroom dancing.

Eat breakfast – its the 4th most important meal of the day!  Apparently skipping breakfast is bad for your metabolism as well.  I love breakfast foods.  I could eat them three times a day.

If you just eat a little less and a little healthier and exercise a  little more, many positive things will happen.

BONUS: Here’s the latest incarnation of my Veggie Boy smoothie recipe.  One of my first posts ten years ago (have I been blogging that long?!) was about my not-quite-patented Veggie Boy smoothies. I figured I was due for an update.

I’ve been making health smoothies for almost 40 years and have now achieved the state of the art. Here is the used-to-be secret recipe for my Veggie Boy protein smoothie. (For you Cheers fans, you’ll remember this is the name of the health drink Woody was hypnotized into liking. “You can really taste the kale!”).  Yeah, there are fruits in it as well, but “Fruity boy” just doesn’t have the same ring.

It is really, really healthy. Vitamins, protein, fiber, low fat, all natural, etc. Drink it for breakfast and you can eat Snickers the rest of the day.  I have a couple glasses for breakfast and some more for lunch or after I work out.  I never eat cooked vegetables and am fairly unlikely to eat them raw, so consuming them in smoothie form is a gigantic plus.

It helps to have a powerful blender to chop up the carrots and frozen stuff, but a simple one will suffice. We splurged and got a Vita Mix a few years back and I couldn’t be happier.  It gets used at least once per day.  (It replaced a 2 HP Waring blender.  It was nice and powerful, but didn’t blend quite as well on frozen things.  Oh, and it turns out that those blue sparks coming out of the bottom meant that it was “arcing,” which apparently is a bad electrical thingy.)

It used to be more of a production to make the smoothies it so I’d skip it when I was busy, but with the extra power I can use more frozen things.  For example, it saves a lot of time to use frozen fruit so I can just drop them in instead of cutting them up each morning.

And it saves you money as well.  If fruit, such as bananas, starts to go bad you can freeze it for smoothies instead of throwing it away.  I hate to waste things.  And when a local fruit stand was selling older bananas at 1/3 the regular price I bought a lot and froze them.

The rest of the family uses it often to make more normal (read: tastier) but still quite nutritious drinks.

Here’s the current recipe.  Believe it or not, it tastes OK.

  • Plain Greek yogurt — very high in protein — the generic kinds are much cheaper than Chobani and such
  • Milk (preferably whole milk)
  • Baby carrots
  • Baby spinach
  • Yellow squash
  • Frozen beets (though not too many, as they have a strong taste)
  • Bananas
  • Some frozen mixed fruit – strawberries / blueberries / raspberries / blackberries – Wal-Mart has a good deal on these and it is easier than buying them fresh.
  • Any other fruit we’ve got. I’m not picky.

Don’t tell CPS, but when Daughter #1 was young I told her one Halloween that she could eat all the candy she wanted if she had a small glass of Veggie Boy first. I thought she actually liked it (it is rather sweet tasting), but I learned years later that she choked it down. I would have let her eat as much candy as she wanted anyway. Fortunately, she is the forgiving type, and she and her sister turned out fabulously despite many parenting moments like that.

P.S. I never understood the juicer concept. Seems like you are throwing out all the good stuff.

Diet and fitness: Simple ways to be healthier for yourself, your family and the kingdom

vegetables.jpgHealth and fitness isn’t just about appearance.  It is about feeling better, having more energy, being less of a burden to your family, saving money (health problems are very expensive), being a better servant for the kingdom, and more.

Nobody likes diet tips from thin people, so I never give them in person.  Hopefully it will be a safe thing to do via a blog.  I was blessed with a high metabolism, so I don’t assume that it is easy for everyone.  But I eat what I want, when I want, and never gain weight.  That was a real drag when I was young and obsessed with gaining weight, but it isn’t so bad now.

These may seem like obvious tips, but consider that there are so many horrible diet programs out there that promote all sorts of counterproductive behavior.

It is all about habits.  Going on and off diets makes the problem worse.  Obsessing about food also makes it worse.

Just do a lot of small things: Eat often (yea!), eat healthy things first, eat a little less, eat a little healthier and exercise a little more.  No fad diets.  No extreme workouts.  Just make some small changes to your habits.

Eat often.  Seriously, when I eat often I eat pretty healthy foods and don’t crave junk.  But the hungrier I get the more I crave things like McDonald’s.  Don’t let yourself get too hungry.

Eat healthy foods first.  You can enjoy treats, but don’t start with them.

Eat smaller portions.  Humans were not meant to eat giant plate fulls of fatty foods along with multiple high-calorie beverages.

Getting regular exercise and sleep help your metabolism.  Exercise burns calories, increases metabolism and reduces your appetite, so even a little bit it helps you in three ways.  Ironically, sleeping too little has been shown to decrease your metabolism.  Exercise can be as simple as going for a walk a few times a week.  People set themselves up for failure when they assume it has to be an intense, daily, 90 minute ritual.  I know people who lost a ton of weight just by taking up ballroom dancing.  It isn’t that the dancing is that strenuous.  They just went from consistently doing nothing to consistently doing something, and they found something that was fun and easy to stick with.

Eat breakfast – its the 4th most important meal of the day!  Apparently skipping breakfast is bad for your metabolism as well.  I love breakfast foods.  I could eat them three times a day.

If you just eat a little less and exercise a  little more, many positive things will happen.

Another good reason to exercise: It is as good as drugs in fighting major diseases

Unless you are a complete invalid, you should be doing some type of physical activity. Another great reason: Exercise just as good as drugs in war on major disease.

Exercise could be as effective as some of the best drugs which protect against major diseases, research has found.

A study of more than 300 trials has found that physical activity was better than medication in helping patients recovering from strokes – and just as good as drugs in protecting against diabetes and in stopping heart disease worsening.

. . .

Researchers said the findings suggested that regular exercise could be “quite potent” in improving survival chances, but said that until more studies are done, patients should not stop taking their tablets without taking medical advice.

The landmark research compared the mortality rates of those prescribed medication for common serious health conditions, with those who were instead enrolled on exercise programmes.

. . .

The research found that while medication worked best for those who had suffered heart failure, in all the other groups of patients, exercise was at least as effective as the drugs which are normally prescribed.

People with heart disease who exercised but did not use commonly prescribed medications, including statins, and drugs given to reduce blood clots had the same risk of dying as patients taking the medication.

Similarly, people with borderline diabetes who exercised had the same survival chances as those taking the most commonly prescribed drugs.

. . .

They said there was a need for more research into the benefits of exercise for those suffering from serious health problems.

Researchers stressed that they were not suggesting that anyone should stop taking medications they had been prescribed, but suggested patients should think “long and hard” about their lifestyles, and talk to their doctors about incorporating more exercise into their daily routines.

Should this be surprising to us?  Why would we think that we could take some pills that would accomplish more than just using our bodies as God designed them?

Exercise is a broad term.  I always encourage people to do something — anything! — on a regular basis.  If you are one who doesn’t exercise at all, ask yourself if you’d be glad now if you had walked 20 minutes on a treadmill three times a week for the last year while watching TV or listening to the audio Bible or something.  If you do more, that’s great, but at least find some minimum level of activity.  You’ll be glad you did.  Forget about appearance and weight.  Just do it so you can feel better, have lower stress, have more energy, get sick less and ultimately be less of a burden on your family.

2nd breakfast — the 3rd most important meal of the day

Or it’s corollary, “3:00 – the 2nd most important snack time of the day.”

Important diet tip: Eat often.  Seriously.  If I eat often I eat much healthier.  I only crave things like McDonald’s if I’ve gone too long between meals.

If you eat often it is easier to eat smaller portions, because you won’t be starving.

Skipping meals = bad and counterproductive.

Eat often, but with smaller and healthier portions.  Try it.

P.S. I often eat a 2nd breakfast.  I’ll have my health shake on the way out the door around 5:45 then some cereal and/or yogurt around 9:00.  Mmmmmmm.

P90X: The “X” stands for, “Wow, this is really quite difficult.”

I’m almost halfway through the 13 week P90X fitness routine and wanted to share some thoughts on it.  I’ve exercised regularly for 30+ years, almost all just self-training — mostly lifting plus jogging/exercise bike type stuff.  When I see “As seen on TV” I take it as a reason not to buy the product in question.  But I heard of several people at work and on Facebook who used P90X and liked it so I decided to give it a try.

My philosophy on fitness is that God has numbered our days but that our choices make a big difference in how we live those days.  Narcissism and excessive exercise aren’t good, but letting ourselves go doesn’t optimize our work for the Kingdom either.  Illness can strike anyone, but I want to accomplish as much as I can with whatever days I have left and I want to minimize any burdens on my family.  I like to stay on the giving side of the giving/receiving equation as much as possible.  Exercise is also a great stress relief.  Therefore, I strive to stay fit.

Observations

Overall, I’ve been thrilled with it. It was sort of like having a personal trainer / class to participate in, but on my schedule and at a fraction of the cost.  I love the challenge.

Lots and lots of push-ups and pull-ups (many varieties of each), though you can use a chair to help on the pull-ups or use exercise bands.

Great variety of exercises: Lifting, stretching, plyometrics, yoga (just the stretches / moves with no religious stuff and actually a nice bit of humor — I wish they’d give it another name), core training and more.

The big theme is “muscle confusion,” where the routines change often and there is a lot of variety in the routines.

You need to be in shape to do this.  Seems counter-intuitive, eh?  But it is very demanding.  It isn’t just the exercises, it is the pace.  Those warnings in the beginning of the DVDs are no joke.  You do not want to dive straight into this.

Hardest routine for me: Legs and back.  One-legged squats followed by another thigh exercise followed by chin-ups will leave you breathless, especially when you do many cycles like that with little rest.  Honorable mention: Plyometrics.  Lots and lots of jumps.  Took me a while to be able to get through it without pausing.

Easiest – er, uh, I mean least difficult — Kenbo kick boxing.  Lots of variety and challenging, but at a fairly even pace.  Truly a fun workout.

You need to put your ego on the shelf and just do what you can in the beginning.  Follow the exercise, but do less repetitions or with less intensity.  Hit the pause button.  The people in the videos have been through the routines so of course they can do them better than you.  But you’ll make progress quickly.

Compete against yourself, not those in the video.  If you have to hit the pause button 10 times the first week and only 8 times the second, then you are winning.

The cost is reasonable — $140 for the program with 12 DVDs plus whatever you spend on bands / dumbbells, etc.  Not cheap, but way cheaper than a personal trainer.

I put the audio onto my iPhone so I can use it at the gym or if I travel.  Once you have watched the DVDs enough you know how the technique works.  I obviously can’t travel with dumbbells but the bands will suffice.  One of my employees did this while traveling, but apparently the person on the floor below didn’t appreciate him doing plyometrics (hence the call from the front desk)

The instructor (Tony Horton) He does a good job of explaining the technique and repeating it.

The warm-up and cool down periods are very thorough.

If you are just beginning I recommend skimming through the workout DVDs before you start.  It takes some of the mystery out of it and helps you get ready.

Their website and Facebook page have lots of good tips.  They try to sell supplements but I mainly go with my Veggie Boy smoothies.  I did try their protein bars — tasty, but on the expensive side.

I generally eat pretty well but I’ve taken it up a notch.  It wasn’t by design, more of just a thought that if I’m doing all this extra work I might as well do everything else I can.

It does take more time than I’d normally set aside for fitness.  The routines are 60-75 minutes and you do them 6 days a week.  But I definitely have more energy every day, so the investment pays off.

I really appreciate their philosophy: No gimmicks, no silly promises of quick weight loss with no effort, no fad diets, etc.  Just hard, consistent work and good eating.  And it works.

Be sure to check out their Facebook page!

Roundup

Touching story about the “female Oskar Schindler,” Irena Sendler, who risked her life saving thousands of Jewish people in WWII. 

Looking forward to this one: Confirmed: Tim Tebow Superbowl Ad Set to Run 

No details have been released regarding the content of the ad.  Many consider it likely, however, that the ad will be related to Pam Tebow’s decision to carry her son to term after she had contracted amoebic dysentery while she was serving as a Christian missionary in the Philippines. Doctors urged her to have an abortion because drugs she took to combat the disease might have affected her baby’s development; she ignored their recommendation and gave birth a perfectly healthy child.

Tim Tebow, who was home schooled before becoming a college football star and is well known for marking his eye black with scriptural verses, has also been involved in his family’s Christian ministry.  Last year he made headlines when, in response to a reporter asking him if he was “saving himself” for marriage, he said that he was.

If you already exercise regularly then ignore this.  If not, ask yourself this: What if you had walked 3 times per week for 20-30 minutes for all of 2009?  Would you feel better?  Would you have regreted the time spent?  Would you have developed relationships with a walking partner?  And so on. 

Let that be an encouragement to do something in 2010 and for the rest of your life.  You don’t have to be a triathlete.  Just do something and do it regularly.

Interesting: Fox News carries 100% of both Coakley’s and Brown’s speeches, but MSNBC and CNN carry several times more of Coakley’s than Brown’s.  But Fox has the bias, right? 

Great reminder from Stan that Christians should love, give and serve with joy and not (just) out of duty.

My #1 productivity tool

no tvI get a fair amount of “Where do you find the time to ____?” comments from people.

Here’s where I get the time: I don’t watch much TV.   I watch 30 min. per day or less, and usually only 10-15 minutes.

That doesn’t make me better or more spiritual or anything else.  I can certainly waste many hours on line, which is just as bad.  But it does explain where I “find” time to do more important things: Bible study, prayer, service, exercise, family time, etc.

OK, I watch some TV, but I am deliberate about what I watch and when I watch it.  I don’t just sit down to watch whatever is on.  I’m glad to see that my daughters picked up on the habits of my wife and me.  They have their favorite shows but are surgical in their viewing habits and don’t waste endless time watching TV.

The average person watches four hours of TV per day.  Four hours per day!  That’s 28 hours per week.  So when I hear that I have no sympathy for people claiming to want to do more things for their faith (again, Bible reading, service, prayer) or their health if they can’t find a way to just cut back 10% of their TV watching.

If people could just skip one half hour show three times a week and go for a walk it would do wonders for their health and well being.  In fact, that would do more to improve the average health of the nation than any politically driven reforms by either party.

Sorry for the sermon, but if people would take an eternal perspective and realize just how much they are missing out on participating in God’s kingdom it would do great things for their lives.  I’m not saying you have to watch zero TV, or even a certain amount.  Just decide to control it and not let it control you.  Not only can it waste your time, but the shows and commercials are almost universally designed to make you covetous and lustful. 

Map out what is truly important to you then estimate where you spend your time, then be intentional about getting the two in sync.

Exercise

treadmill.jpg“I tried lifting weights once.  But they were heavy, so I put them down.” – Kent Appleman (an old friend of the ours from Tulsa – not sure where he is, but if he finds this site please leave a comment!)

I’ve lifted weights for 30 years but I always loved that quote.

I make it a point not to be an exercise nanny, but I thought I would pass along a few tips.   

At the risk of sounding like a dated Nike shill, my philosophy is Just do it.  My advice to people who haven’t been exercising is just to do something . . . anything!  Walk around the block.  The next day, go around twice.  Work up to walking 15-20 min. three times a week for starters.  It is virtually impossible to injure yourself and you can then phase into something more strenuous if you like.  Or ride a recumbent exercise bike (much more comfortable than upright bikes and easier to read while you’re pedaling). 

You do not need to do extreme exercise.  I think that is a barrier for many people.  They think that if they don’t do something strenuous for 90 minutes, 7 days a week then they shouldn’t do anything.  But you don’t have to run a marathon.  Hey, I don’t even like to drive 26 miles. 

Get an mp3 player and listen to something as you go (Uh, walk against traffic, please!).  It makes the time go quickly.  Download some sermon Podcasts.  Pray.  Talk with a friend. Anything!

If you change nothing else in your lifestyle and diet, walking 50 hours per year (an hour a week) will have a real impact on your energy level, weight and health.  You’ll find that once you start it gets easier.  Remember that it takes about a month to make or break a habit.

What is my exercise routine?  I work out 4-5 times a week and do a mix of weightlifting and riding the recumbent bike.  I used to jog but it was aggravating a nerve problem in my neck.   Every now and then I’ll throw some swimming in but that definitely isn’t my forte’.  I used to play volleyball and tennis but got tired of them.  Maybe I’ll pick them up again someday.

I work out roughly 50 minutes at a time.  Much more than that and I get bored and start dreading the workouts.  I prefer working out at lunch – it is a great stress release and a good break in the day.  I try to do a workout that is challenging but sustainable.  God willing, I would like to keep this up for another 35-40 years. 

Diet and fitness: Simple ways to be healthier for yourself, your family and the kingdom

vegetables.jpgHealth and fitness isn’t just about appearance.  It is about feeling better, having more energy, being less of a burden to your family, saving money (health problems are very expensive), better a better servant for the kingdom, and more.

Nobody likes diet tips from thin people, so I never give them in person.  Hopefully it will be a safe thing to do via a blog.  I was blessed with a high metabolism, so I don’t assume that it is easy for everyone.  But I eat what I want, when I want, and never gain weight.  That was a real drag when I was young and obsessed with gaining weight, but it isn’t so bad now.

These may seem like obvious tips, but consider that there are so many horrible diet programs out there that promote all sorts of counterproductive behavior.

It is all about habits.  Going on and off diets makes the problem worse.  Obsessing about food also makes it worse.

Just do a lot of small things: Eat often (yea!), eat healthy things first, eat a little less, eat a little healthier and exercise a little more.  No fad diets.  No extreme workouts.  Just make some small changes to your habits.

Eat often.  Seriously, when I eat often I eat pretty healthy foods and don’t crave junk.  But the hungrier I get the more I crave things like McDonald’s.  Don’t let yourself get too hungry.

Eat healthy foods first.  You can enjoy treats, but don’t start with them.

Eat smaller portions.  Humans were not meant to eat giant plate fulls of fatty foods along with multiple high-calorie beverages.

Eat healthy stuff first but work in plenty of treats in small quantities.

Getting regular exercise and sleep help your metabolism.  Exercise burns calories, increases metabolism and reduces your appetite, so even a little bit it helps you in three ways.  Ironically, sleeping too little has been shown to decrease your metabolism.  Exercise can be as simple as going for a walk a few times a week.  People set themselves up for failure when they assume it has to be an intense, daily, 90 minute ritual.  More on that tomorrow.

Eat breakfast – its the 4th most important meal of the day!  Apparently skipping breakfast is bad for your metabolism as well.  I love breakfast foods.  I could eat them three times a day.

If you just eat a little less and exercise a  little more, many positive things will happen.