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Monday, April 19, 2010

Eatin' on the cheap

I hear people complain all the time about how much it costs to eat healthy. That, my friends, is just plain absurd.

People from the poorest states have the highest levels of obesity. Does this mean that healthy food is expensive and the poor can only eat cheap, unhealthy food? Again, this is an utter fallacy. Its about what the planning we do and the choices we make.

In today’s blog I am going to tell you how to do two things. One is to eat better. The other is to save money on your food bill. Yep. Can be done. I promise.

It all starts with a plan. This will take some time at first but once you get the hang of my system is will be like 5 minutes. Before you do your trip to the supermarket sit down with your family and make a plan.

You’ll need a pad of paper and some patience. You should be able to find both if you look hard enough.

Start with breakfast. What does everybody enjoy for breakfast? Make a list of what you come up with. Whoever is in charge (i.e. whoever pays the bills and is the most health conscious) automatically eliminates the suggestions like donuts and Poptarts.
Now what you need to do (and this is VERY important) is assign days to each meal. For example Monday and Tuesday is fresh fruit, Wednesday is cereal, Thursday and Friday is Oatmeal, Saturday and Sunday its eggs and toast. Each night you should go to bed knowing what everybody is having for breakfast. Every Monday is always the same. Remember to eat up the fresh fruits and veggies early in the week.

Do the same thing for lunch and for dinner. The kids may eat at school that’s not an issue. You may eat out on Wednesdays so don’t worry about that day. Dinner is the family meal! Decide in advance what each meal is going to be making sure that there is input from the entire family.

Make a big list of the snacks that you enjoy and, of course, eliminate all the garbage. Make sure that you plan of having snacks that everyone likes and it’s even OK to get a treat or two. DO NOT overindulge on treats! They cost money and more importantly they can cost you your health.

Let’s review. We now have a list of DAY SPECIFIC breakfast, lunches and dinners. We also have a list of snacks to get for everybody.

Now is where some trial and error needs to take place. You need to know how much of each food you’ll need. It is vastly important to over buy. A lot of food will just plain go bad. Also don’t get trapped into the nasty habit of running to the store to get extra comfort food. Not a good idea at all. Buy what you buy and readjust as you go.

Now take your list of meals and make a shopping list. Once you know what you need then start looking in the cupboards. You do NOT need to keep tons of food just in case. A hurricane storage box may be a good idea that’s it.

Don’t have a cupboard full of snacks! This is what you spend your money on! Don’t do it!

Same thing with the freezer; 15 relatives aren’t going to come over for dinner tonight. They’ll give you enough time to run to Publix.

You will likely find that many for your first week’s meals are already in your house. Keep track of everything! Did you run out of oatmeal? Buy more next time! You get the picture.

How can this way of shopping be cheaper? Several ways. Here they are in no particular order:

1. You won’t be wasting any food. Have you ever bought a bad of apples only to watch then all go bad. Same with milk or cheese or meat. If things go bad and you throw it way make and note and don’t make that mistake again!

2. If you plan and make meals it will be cheaper! I promise that rice, broccoli and chicken breast is going to be cheaper then frozen pizza because not only is it dinner but it is lunch the next day.

3. You will be less inclined to go out to eat if you PLAN what to eat and when. How many times has a “what’s for dinner” conversation turned into a $70 bill at Applebee’s? Exactly.

4. You will be healthier. How is being healthier going to save you money? Less days off from from work due to sickness, less doctors bills, better insurance premiums etc. etc.

5. Another thing that people don’t realize is that when you plan your meals out it takes less time and thus more time you could be spending working on your goals or spending time with your family. Priceless.

Let’s review.

1. Plan your week.
2. Work your plan.
3. See results.
4. Any question?

Invest the time in the beginning. This is huge. It may seem like hard work in the end you are going to be better off.

Remember to keep track. Post the menu somewhere that everyone will see. Stay strong. Don’t deviate! If a meal doesn’t work then do something to change it. It’s OK to make some changes but not OK to give in to the “take-out food” mentality of the majority of Americans.

Good luck and let me know how it goes!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Health Care Mess

I can’t really comment on the recently passed health care bill. Actually I haven’t read it and neither have most people that are making noise. It’s a pretty noisy subject if you ask me. I refuse to either support it or rail against it. That’s what everybody else is doing. I like to go against the grain.


There are indisputable facts out there. First fact that stands out to me is that the abysmal health of the people in our wonderful country compared to the rest of the world. We spend trillions every year and our health is getting worst every year. Isn’t that just plain nuts?

How is that freakin’ possible?

It comes down to two glaring facts. One fact the government somehow NEEDS to fix at some point. It’s likely that this latest “health care” bill won’t help things but make them worst. My ignorance leaves me short of really having an actually opinion; it’s just a suspicion. Item number one on my agenda today is a one word answer: GREED.

OK, class, pop quiz time. Are there a lot of people, companies and entire industries that make a killing on our poor health? Uh… that would be a yes. The food industry alone is making a killing on feeding our kids CRAP in schools. Never mind the CRAP they put on the shelves at the super market. What if people were health conscious and didn’t buy Twinkies? EXACTLY.

So you get sick with Cancer. Who benefits from your misfortune? Too many to list. What if a “cure” for cancer came along tomorrow? Would we ever find out about it?
OK, let’s journey back from the cynical island people.

My bad. The point I really want to drive home is this: waaaaaay too many people make money when you get sick. Seriously. There are so many levels and so much money that it is sickening just to contemplate. No wonder our health is declining. We wouldn’t want all the insurance companies to lose money now would we?

I will stop short of saying that the government should run health care. People need to make a buck but why at the expense of you and I when we get sick. In an ideal world we would all pay part of our income to a pool to “insure” that we can have a top notch doctor treat us if we wreck out car or break our leg playing flag football.

I don’t want to go any deeper than that. It’s not my strength. We all just need to think about how many industries are involved.

By the way, here is a question to ponder. Why are there so many different medications for lower cholesterol or blood pressure? Why don’t all the companies just pool their resources and have just a few options? Yeah and why do the drug companies spend millions advertising to regular Joes like you and I when only doctors can write prescriptions? Maybe this is all part of the problem. Just sayin’.

Health care is a mess. It’s massively complex and just plain impossible to really fix now of ever. Or is it?

How about this scenario. You don’t get sick. Once every 8-10 you have a minor accident that requires some medical attention. Since the health care system isn’t a travesty you can pay your $2000-$3000 dollar medical bill because health care runs efficiently because people don’t clog it up with ridiculousness. (Yes that is a word) Most people live this scenario. Some people still get cancer, diabetes or typhoid fever but the cases are few and far between and treatable with the proper medications and therapies.

Doesn’t sound like much fun for the doctors and insurance and drug companies. As a matter of fact is awful for these industries. But the overwhelming percentage of the population will live longer and better and not have to worry about paying large chunks of their weekly pay for “health insurance”. This world may seem unreasonable to you but it is not. Plenty of people out there live this life. Don’t ask your doctor. He won’t tell you about this. Check out this cool little essay. It’s called “A Normal Life”:

OK, what I’m really trying to say is that we have a personal accountability problem in this country. People just don’t take 100% for being healthy each and every day their lives. Try this. For one month walk for 45 minutes EVERY day, drink no fluid besides water, and eat no dairy, sugar, flour, or salt.
What do you think will happen?

Now imagine your improved health after 6 months or a year. The fact is this is just too hard. We continue day in and day out to eat like crap, leave our lazy asses on the couch and whine and complain when health insurance is so much money.
News flash here: Disease and all the crap that goes with it is caused by lack of exercise and poor food choices. Until we figure this out there is no answer.
Here is what needs to happen. Our president (maybe one that doesn’t smoke. Just sayin’..) needs to stand tall in front of the American people and say this:

“My fellow Americans. We are fat and getting fatter. Disease is rampant. Our health can system is a travesty and embarrassment. We are the laughing stock of the world. This I cannot change. There is nothing that I can do to fix this problem. It’s out of my hands. You, however, can fix it. The answers lie within you. Its time, my fellow Americans, to say enough is enough. Starting today we need to stand together. Together we must stand up to all the industries and money grubbing scumbags that have been holding us down all these years. Tonight we turn this ship around. It starts in your home.

We must realize and accept that we have screwed up. We have had help, but we have screwed up. Despite what we’ve been told we have choices that we can make every day to improve our health. To make this happen we need do the following:

• Walk 45 minutes every day of the week. If you miss a day? That’s ok. Do your best.
• Eat only foods that nourish your body. No sugar, no enriched floor, no salt.
• Drink only water.
• Eliminate caffeine from your diet.
• Don’t smoke or drink alcohol.
• Have a positive attitude.
• Reduce and eliminate “stress” from your life.
• Smile and encourage others as much as you can.
• Read and enrich yourself every day.

“Your adherence to above simple principles is your ticket to health and wellness. The road will not be an easy one. It’s going to be a challenge. However, you need to bear this in mind: If you take 100% responsibility for your health then your health will be what you want it to be. If you continue to do what you have done in the past then your health with remain the same. You can change. Your health is up to you. From now on the government of the United States is going to….”

I’m no speech writer. The point is that it would be fabulous if, instead of spending so much time trying to fix the mess we call health care we spent a bit of time educating people on HOW to be healthy.

How about these CRAZY notions:

1. We teach REAL nutrition education in school.
2. School lunches were healthy.
3. Insurance covers radical things like nutrition counseling and personal training appointments.
4. Insurance companies refused to cover smokers or heavy drinkers.
5. Doctors actually learn and teach proper nutrition.
6. Drugs were not a MULTI BILLION dollar industry.

I guess I’m ranting again. I’ll stop.

I don’t know how to fix health care and neither does anybody else (obviously). The only thing that I can do is fulfill my mission by helping YOU to avoid the whole mess all together. Good luck. I’m here for you is you need me.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Another Rant... (oh but this one is GOOD!)

During the course of my career in fitness I’ve worked in three separate gyms. I can freely admit that I’ve left in disgust every time. It took me a while each time to figure out that gyms are more part of the problem with our nation’s health then they are the solution.

A stretch? I don’t think so. Let me explain.

Someone recently asked me about PX90. It’s a fair question to ask a guy who calls himself “The Fitness Guru”. I gave her may answer and I’ll summarize here.

PX90 is a great program and it works…. for one tiny segment of the population. These are the people that are driven to succeed and have made that choice. For them is will work. For the other 95% of the population it’s a waste of time and it gives them another good excuse to fail. (it’s was too hard or it took too long or I got hurt or…)

Want to know something interesting? PX90 is exactly the same as the “Brazilian Butt Lift”, “Tao Bo”, “Zumba”, “Spinning” and the other 15,000 programs that some sellout made millions on. Exactly the same! If you are driven, determined and motivated then you will succeed. Period, the end.

Now here is the really cool part. Those people that succeed on these programs are the same that succeed on the “yeah, I changed my diet and started walking” program. Same people.

Don’t get me wrong. Some of these programs are good and will yield fabulous results… to the people that are motivated, determined… you get the picture.

I’d be willing to bet though that 85-95% of the people that enroll in any kind of program that they buy at 2am on TV fails to see results.

By the way, I’m talking about fitness here but please keep in my mind that all diet programs are EXACTLY the same. Picture me writing about “Atkins”, “South Beach” and all the other waste of time diet programs as well.

Where was I?

Oh yeah. Not many people get results of workout programs.

I once heard a story about a friend of mine who went on a long RV trip to “find inner peace”. He was in some faraway place and he called his friend up to say hello. The friend asked him if he’d found what he was looking for. Of course the answer was no.

As you know “inner peace” is not something you find. It’s already there. You just need to bring it out.

Same goes true for “results” or your “beach body” or “six pack abs”. It’s all there. No program is going to bring it out. It’s up to YOU to find it.

PX90 won’t do it for you. YOU need to strap on a pair and get the job done.
Now how do health clubs fit into this?

First of all I can tell you that they don’t fit in real well.

Let’s do some math. Let’s say an average health club, let’s pick one at random, uh… let’s say the YMCA. Let’s assume the YMCA signs up about 1000 new people per year. OK, if in 2005 they have 1000 members. How many members would they have in 2010?

A) 1000
B) 6000
C) 0
D) Somewhere between 1000 and like 1004

If you said B then you are absolutely wrong. Of course it’s a trick question. Why? Well I really didn’t give you enough information. The answer is likely to be D or perhaps A. Most fitness facilities experience very small or even negative growth.

Why is that?

Believe me I know the answer and in a few minutes you will also.

You join a gym because you need to be more physically fit. You join a gym because it’s the right thing to do. Right?

No. You join the gym because you thing that are supposed to you see all the flashy equipment and programs and willingly pay your money not knowing you are going to also have to pay the price in sweet equity. It’s hard work but you don’t know that because you see a pretty girl at the front desk, a buff guy in the weight room, and a hot aerobics instructor on the wellness floor and you believe that somehow that is going to be you. This gym is going to make me healthy, fit and HOT.

Of course that is all a fallacy. The gym provides the runway. You just need to take off. Very few people understand that.

So our random gym (the YMCA) signs up 1000 people and 1000 people leave in the course of a year. Again we ask the question: WHY?

Don’t think I’m just talking about the YMCA, or Gold’s, or Anytime Fitness. This is how it is everywhere.

And our health continues to decline at an exponential rate…

I could go on all day but I won’t. I have several distinct points to make hear before I go off to teach class.

Point #1: Health clubs and infomercials are going to try to sell you on programs and equipment. Neither one is going to help you if you don’t already have the drive and will to succeed.

Point #2: YOU can succeed on any program if you want. Again, it comes from within you.

Point #3: Most people that work at health clubs do because it is their job. The successful ones do find some people that have passion (people like Rhonda Taylor at the YMCA). These people are out there but unfortunately are few and far between.

Why the rant against health clubs today? I don’t know. I guess the mood hit me. When I started writing this morning I started with a title. Now that I’m about done I guess I need a new title because this essay has nothing to do with the original topic. I guess that will be a topic for another day.

I have nothing against the health and fitness industry. I shouldn’t. I make a living here. I have no problem with any fitness facility. (EVEN the ones that ban me) I hope that you understand that.

Working out at a health club can be a great experience and I encourage people to do that. The problem is when facilities claim they are going to do things for you that they cannot. The problem is when people believe that getting off the couch and walking into a gym is going to make everything better. It’s simply not true.

When the same number of people leave a gym in a year that sign up, you have a fundamental problem with your business model. Am I wrong?

Figure out why you want to be better tomorrow than today. Once you find the reason the results will find you.

Your best you is in there waiting to come out. Everything you’ve ever wanted is already there. You just need to dig deep enough and you get it out.

Have the right attitude. Have the right guidance. The sky’s the limit. Have faith in yourself and your will to succeed will become you measuring stick. Good luck!