Calorie Restriction Works For Your Pets Health Too

Riley clown

Though it’s been known for over 80 years now that profound calorie restriction extends the healthy lifespan of nearly all species studied – from fruit flies through dogs and now primates, * many people will not practice the regimen because of the obvious hardship it can entail.  But from a realistic viewpoint, even a small reduction in overall quantity can go a long way toward good health.  Well, what about Fido?  You have complete control over his diet, why not put this regimen to work for him?

Meet Riley, my 85 lb. Rottweiler/coon hound  mix pictured above.  He is now 12 years old and going strong.  This despite the vet saying last spring that he would have serious age-related problems by the end of that year.  Riley does have a bunch of “fatty bumps” all over his body but vet has repeatedly examined them over the years and said they were no concern.   I also keep hearing people saying the guy looks a bit over weight  :) ,  but he’s actually a model of good health for a dog his age.

Riley greets us every morning bursting with energy, he still chases sticks (breaks off his own from the surrounding trees), wrestles at every opportunity,  and acts about the same as he did 5 years ago.  The only concession to age is that he sleeps a bit more during the day.  Whats his secret?  He certainly gets regular exercise and plenty of rest, but he also has been fed a reduced calorie diet since he was a puppy.  Here is a pic of his typical morning meal:

Riley meal

That dish contains @1/4 of a can of high quality dog food along with about a handful of crunchies.  What do the dry food bags usually recommend for a dog his size?  About 8 cups per day!  Yet Riley gets this dish in the morning and evening with a few tiny bits of chicken and small dog treats per day and that’s it.  Basically about half of what other dogs typically get and yet he’s doing great!

There’s no question that we Westerners eat vastly more than we need to for optimal health.  Besides sheer bulk we also eat very high fat and sugar meals; I have written many posts suggesting ways to mitigate this.  Some here.   One idea:  Eat only as much as needed to become @ 80% full rather than as bloated as a whale at each meal.  If you eat slower and savor each bite,  you will probably enjoy the meal more and also find yourself perfectly satisfied  when the meal is done.  This is one of the best dietary habits you can develop.

Of course trying to teach my dog Riley to slow down in his attack on his dish is a lost cause.  It doesn’t matter what we tell him,  he’ll beg everytime there is something organic in the area regardless of how much we give him!


Riley walk


* read between the lines on these studies, and note that the calorie restricted diet groups in both studies were in fact healthier, and also note that the Univ of Wisconsin control group monkeys were allowed to eat whatever they wanted – a realistic control factor – and likewise both groups in the other study by the NIA were given an unrealistic healthy diet.  The results are tantalizing and actually point more to the benefit of calorie restriction, but further study is clearly needed.

For more on cal restriction and its benefits:  here

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The Gist on Diets and Health

photo 2 (9)

So you’re at a party and you see a table laid out like this, which are you most likely to grab?

Most people would opt for the chips of course, because “that’s what we usually crunch on at an affair”,  but if you decide to grab a few peas instead you might actually find them more enjoyable.

That’s right.  We’ve all  heard it before:   “Broccoli, peas, carrots and celery are acquired tastes, – chips and dip are what really taste good”  But do you really believe that? Which one of these salads do you think would taste better?


The one on the right took about 2 minutes more to prepare and probably costed about 50 cents more, unfortunately……. ;)

This net overall time and cost would be even less if you chopped up a pile in advance and kept them in a bag in the fridge.  Now a salad is a great start to any meal, it pretty much ensures that you get all the vitamins/minerals and phytos that you require for health, and causes you to eat less net calories with the meal.  When you’re filling that bag, 2 minutes more to make it tasty and healthy pay off all week long, as you dig into it multiple times.   This is an example of adding “intelligent design” to your consumption plans.

How bout this one – which sandwich are you most likely to prepare?


Many people habitually settle for the style on the right.  But you’re going to have a hard time convincing me that it would have tasted better than the other.  This is what I actually ended up having today:


I also grabbed a handful of chips to go with it by the way.  I’m not about abstinence, but only enrichment of your overall diet.  Taking a minute to plan in advance and keep the good stuff around pays out loads in the way you feel and perform in life.   Remember that the foods you eat most often are the ones that are going to show up in your face, and your body.  If you can get your own habits on your side you’ll really notice the difference over time.

Bon apetit!

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Beer and Other Healthy Barbecue Tricks

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Seems like a particularly long time in coming this year, but just around the corner lies sun, beaches, barbecues, outdoor sports and just simple basic enjoyment.  Two of our favorites – beer and cooking on the grill –  often receive bad press for healthful reasons, but there are ways to convert those exquisite pasttimes into truly healthful ones.  You can have your beer and drink it too…..

Overcooked blackened charred meats have been  implicated in studies as promoters of diseases like cancer.  The uncontrolled high temperatures and damaged meat results in the  creation of harmful chemicals such as HCA’s (heterocyclic amines) and PAH’s (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), as well as increasing levels of AGE’s which are a hallmark of accelerated aging.  Are we paying a hefty price for our pleasure?  I don’t think so.  These consequences are primarily related to the way we cook, much more  than what we are preparing.

It’s the scorching high temperatures, the dusty, charred meat surface and the flaming gasses created by the dripping fat that are the culprits – but these are easily mitigated.

Any master chef knows to control flame ups, and he knows that meat tastes better cooked slowly and turned frequently.  He also might be aware that sacrificing a little of his favorite beer (particularly dark ones) as a beer marinade has been show in  fairly recent studies (here and here) to lower the levels of those PAH’s and HCA’s while also contributing some antioxidant protection in the process.  You can later sprinkle on some herbs as well as barbecue sauce that add even further benefits – as long as these are not burnt.

One good trick when grilling chicken is to parboil it a bit longer.  This limits the chance of overdoing or singeing it on the grill.  (cooking outdoors is for taste, not for convenience or economy)

I do the bulk of the grilling of chicken legs and breasts on the bony underside, limiting the burning and charring of the top meat surface.  This  preserves the tasty fats and the skin on that meaty side.  Just remember to keep that flame in it’s place.

For steaks and chops, frequent turning at low heat is the healthiest.  This also gives you more chances to apply abundant sauces and spices to really ramp up the flavor.  Remember that you are also pouring on healthy protection with those bastes…

We hear from the health experts that we should limit our grilling to once a week or less.  I don’t know about you, but that just doesn’t cut it for me. I find barbecues to be one of the greatest pleasures of summer, even on a week night.  But by taking a few smart steps it can still fit in quite nicely with your health enhancement lifestyle……..



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Hernia Rehab for Fitness Training


Here is my chiseled midsection two days after a Laparascopic double inguinal hernia operation.  As you can see, some serious swelling, a little black and blue, but surprisingly little pain.  Yesterday I was on pain killers and I really did not feel like moving around,  but today a couple advil was enough to do the trick and Im already starting to feel cagey!  The details of the operation (and a few things to look for if you are contemplating this wonderful adventure yourself):

1.  Found out my referred surgeon used the TEP method, in which the doctors install a mesh on the surface of the peritoneum as opposed to the TAPP method where they cut through it and put the patch on the inside.  I think of the latter as the “Tapp-out” method because with that they have a greater chance of injuring organs or of the mesh causing “adhesions” to the bowel and other organs over the course of time.  If the surgeon is highly skilled (as mine appeared to be) the TEP method is the way to go hands down in my opinion.  Let em keep it on the outside, I say.

2.   My surgeon used a triangular mesh with minimal fastening, the pressure of the abdominal muscle wall was sufficient to hold it in place till the tissue healed and integrated with it.  I was glad to know that I wouldn’t have a  pile of staples or tacks floating around in my gut.  Of course there is a good success rate with this method if done by a skilled physician.  Hopefully I will experience no “foreign body sensations” which was always a private dread.

3.  With the laparacopic approach the surgeon can also turn the scope to the other side and see if you have a hernia there also, as there was in my case.  He can then make the repair without any additional cuts or holes.  Of course that is one of the main attractions of laparoscopy: you don’t have to deal with a long gash and the resultant extended rehab and scarring associated with open surgery.  There are only these 3 small vertical 5mil wide holes that I’m sure will close up and disappear in no time at all.

Feeling really good about the outcome so far although it is only the second day.  I am going to push the envelope with my rehab, however.  Nothing stupid of course, but I expect to be 100% back in full workout form in three to four weeks.  I will document my progress, we’ll see how this works out!



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5 Unblievably Easy Ways to Instantly Look and Feel Younger.



You see that picture of yourself at the office or at a party and think how aged you look in it.  (“Why didn’t anybody tell me?”)  Or you’re starting your walk or run and just  don’t have any spring or juice in your step.  Your legs feel like they got cinder blocks tied to them.  Well, it needn’t be that way.  Here are a few incredibly simple ways to instantly knock about ten years off the way you feel or look.  They are almost too easy – but you will be amazed at how well they work!

1.  When ever you’re out in public, or anywhere else for that matter, pay close attention to your posture.  Many people middle-aged or even younger tend to let their head droop forward and their shoulders sag.  They get that “dowager-hump” look.  If you would simply stand up straight, pull your shoulders back a bit and slightly tilt your head back – think that “Dancing with the Stars” posture for the men in a waltz – you would instantly appear 5-10 years younger!  Try it out in front of a mirror.  Sagging head forward in lazy stance, then Military Attention look with head slightly back.  This lessens the “jowl look”  and it also implies vitality and youth.  Make it a habit.  And while you’re at it suck in the gut a bit.  Habitually doing this strengthens the muscles too.

2.  This next tip – you might think a waste of time – but its true.  If you desire to at least look younger and certainly more attractive, simply make it a habit of smiling.  Like the posture tip above, the proof is in the mirror or the picture.  It always makes you look younger and better.  Researchers say when you smile you also have a subtle psychological effect upon your mood and the way you come across.  Telemarketers know this and always deliberately crack a big wide one before making the next dial.

3.  Getting back to the work out fatigue syndrome noted above, if you are going for a walk or a run and your legs feel tight, weak and possibly heavy, you can often relieve that right away by getting down to a squat and with back straight supporting all of your weight on your calves.  Bounce a little bit in that position, in effect giving a deep kneading massage to them, this will improve circulation and believe it or not it usually wipes that logy fatigue right away!  Try it!

4.  If you’re just starting out on that walk and come to a hill you often get a real burst of fatigue, often because you are not processing oxygen efficiently at that early stage.  You can remedy the feeling by this complicated method:  Simply take a real deep breath.  Take in as much as possible, really stretch the lungs and fill every tiny corner.  You might feel energized right off the bat.  Fighters know this well, in their corner their trainers contiuously tell them to “breath deep! Take deep breaths!”  Whenever you feel sluggish follow that simple advise.

5.  At my terribly advanced age of 58 I often get a surge of tiredness at about the midpoint of my workouts.  (typically only a short time after warmup sets)  This can really spoil the session, as the truly beneficial sets where you “push the envelope” are only beginning.  I have found a nice trick for getting another burst of energy to complete the really challenging lifts.  I merely go the the sink , with shirt off and splash cold water on my arms and shoulders.  Raise your arms and stretch them all about, splash more cold water on and you are instantly energized.  This effect is only brief, however.  But I always utilize it before  lifting anything heavy.  It goes hand in hand with proper form and balance in avoiding weight training related injury.  Had waaaay to0 many of those already!



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Dietary Monster Tamed…..


Game almost over.  The opponents have the football on your 2 yard line. You lead by 5 points, but they have the chance to take the lead from you  with a short run or pass. The ball is hiked – and they fumble it! You snatch up the ball and sprint all the way down the field for a touchdown. That there was a 14 point swing my friends, and where only seconds ago you were fighting for your life you are now fully in command of a blowout!

Why don’t we take this dramatic little vignette and apply it to the dinner table?   How can we take our weakest dietary link and turn it completely around – making it our strongest habit? How can we give ourselves that 14 point turnaround? Here’s one simple way.

People try valiantly to ensure that their entrees and side dishes are at least moderately healthy (with varied success) but for many it is the treat after the meal that sinks them. A caloric tsunami ready to drown out all their noble intentions. But Desserts are not naturally unhealthy, in fact nature has  instilled our craving of them for a legitimate reason. It provides a lot that the meals omits.

You’ve gotten all your protein, fat and calorie needs with the meal, but you might still be short on your vitamin and mineral requirements.  Fruits and vegetables are the best source of that.  But if you opt for a typical starch-based dessert such as cookies, pastry or maybe ice cream, you probably won’t be too successful right?  People often habitually reach for these, they might be the only thing associated with dessert, but that is a problem easily alleviated.

Take a look at the selection in the picture above.  The blackberries, dark chocolate covered almonds, pomegranate and grapes have some of the highest antioxidant levels of any food, they also contain other beneficial phytonutrients to help in your weight control, and equally important –  if you give them a chance you find that they are just as satisfying as any other dessert choice.  And here is the key to your success.  We don’t usually think of these delights when we’re out grocery shopping, our habits usually kick in instead and  we reach for those cookies, pies, ice cream or candy.  If you can make it a point to grab the good stuff instead, and its the only thing available after the meal – voila!  You’ve successfully extracted that painful sweet tooth!  And it might come almost as a shock that they actually taste better than what we’re used to having.  Here is another case of mind over platter.  Smart dieting.  Taming that subtle dietary killer.  Why not give it a try!


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Ahhh, Lovely Stress…….

Stress wreaks its evil havoc in so many ways:  It has been linked to depression, weight gain, sleep loss, and even shortened lifespan.  But did you know that stress is actually good for you in many ways?  The determining factor is who’s in charge – you or the stressful event?  Understanding this idea can be one of the most powerful ways to change your life for the better, basically reversing all of the above listed detriments and a whole lot more.

We’ve heard it said before: “It’s not the stress itself, it’s the way you and your body reacts to it that matters.”  There is a lot to this, it clearly deserves a closer look.  Think of another very stressful activity that greatly affects your health – exercise.  The benefits of exercise come from the body’s over-repairing or overcompensating for the damage done by what it perceives as an ordeal.  In other words, stress.  But exercise benefits just about every facet of your physical/psychological health.  It makes you a stronger person in almost every way.  So if we have here an example of stress being very good for you, why should we try to eliminate it in other areas of our lifes?  The answer is we should not, we should just seek to control the environment, the parameters of the arena it is expressed in.  Just like we do with our workouts.

Some people may say “if you can do that then it’s not a stressful event”.  I say this is begging the question in a way, but it reflects a lack of understanding of stress itself.  When you are in charge of the event – when you have recourse, or the power to act, you relish it as a challenge instead of a serious attack.  There are easy ways you can encage this confrontation in a positive environment for you as you’ll see below.  Learning the art is very important to happiness and success.

Let’s use the exercise example to illustrate.  Fitness experts are always telling us to observe proper form in our routines, to observe calculated limits of weight to use, proper speeds and time frames for running, etc.  We do it all under strictly controlled parameters.  Only when we get arrogant or lazy and violate proper methods do we experience injury.  These principles can be applied to any stressful scenario.  Here are a few tips for doing so:

1)  Keep your exertion in the gym.  Don’t perform stressful physical activity in between workouts.  In life the rule is the same – keep your work at work, don’t brood about what happened at the office on your family/down time.  Don’t persistently beat yourself up over some minor event that happened at work.  Flip the off switch.  That means change the subject (substitution principal) distract your mind with some pleasurable activity when you get home.

2)  Don’t “lift” more than you’re capable.  Know when you’ve reached your limits and move on to something else.  Compromise, clear the air, again -distract your mind – occupy it with another project.

3)  Keep things in perspective.  Is that minor insult really a cause for outright war?  If you lost a small sale will it really sink your career?  Then why beat yourself up over it?  You can still go home kiss the wife, have a tasty meal, and your job will be fine till tomorrow.  It’s not the end of the world.  Now if you got into a car accident, was blinded and paralyzed that might be a bit worse though, wouldn’t it?

4)  Get organized..  I could write volumes on this one, the gist is this:  The more you have preestablished routines or “filing methods” for dealing with daily transactions and contingencies, the faster and easier you can handle them.  And the less of the negative pressure you put on yourself.  Organization means far more than neatness.  It means having the commonly used items closest at hand.  Put those rarely used envelopes or stack of forms farther downstream, have your desk and your life set up, lean and mean and ready to roll! In other words get the miscellaneous stuff out of the way!

Contrary to what we hear on in an unending barrage, stress is not your enemy.  With a little preparation and practice you can turn those trying events to your advantage and possibly change your whole outlook in life – turn a negative into a positive – that results in the biggest swing!




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