The Three Secrets of Healthy Eating

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Want to change your eating habits – painlessly?  It’s not hard at all if you first resolve these three issues.

  1. Understand what is healthy and what is not.  This is actually the easiest of the three.  Seriously, there is very little controversy on what we should be eating, right?  “Eat more fruits and vegetables, less saturated fat and less highly processed meats and carbohydrates.”  These recommendations are drilled into our heads incessantly; the ratios of certain foods to others may be contested, but the real question is “how do I get on the bandwagon?”
  2. The trick to healthy eating is the learning of ways to prepare those healthy foods so that they are enjoyable to you.  I could argue that there is a way to prepare a tofu burger that tastes as good as the best prime rib, but I won’t go quite that far.  ;)  On the other hand, certain meats are not unhealthy at all and if you mix them with the right vegetables, cook and season correctly they can literally blow you away with the flavor.  Even that “evil weed”  broccoli –  when sautéed or stewed  in the right sauce will shock the most hardened carnivore…     You can find some suggestions on this website or try this other one:
  3. The last part of the formula is critical also.  Much of our dining or snacking is impulsive or habitual.  The way to outsmart the “grab and devour” reaction monster is to simply put it in a cage.  When out grocery shopping put only healthy foods in your cart.  Don’t go near the “snack isle”  where chips, pretzels etc. are prominently within reach.  But give your shopping a little forethought.  Plan your meals a bit.  Stock up on ripe fruit and other healthy alternatives.   Never shop when you are hungry – that’s when bad habits step in.  Just dutifully select with a little care and caution.   Later at home you’ll be forced to eat the healthy ones as they’re the only things on hand, and you’ll be shocked at how they actually taste better than what you’re accustomed to!

Eating healthy is all about eating smartly, not a great battle of willpower.  The proof is in the fact that healthy people don’t really miss the garbage a bit, but getting to that point might require a little creativity…..

Here’s one of my favorite ones from an earlier post.





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NEW Workout Routine for Crossfit, etc.

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What do the two pictures above have in common?  Both show tools for  progressive workout intensity.  If you use the primal option on the left, you might find a benefit not shown in any other exercise.  And its just too damn simple!

This is a great routine if you are a fan of Crossfit, or any other workout regimen that uses unconventional tools and highly varied routines.  They work to keep the muscles guessing, and also to utilize the very important supportive muscles and connective tissue.  This one does that in spades, and its perfect the perfect way to close out any hard workout.

Another nice benefit:  No expensive weights or machines to purchase!  (The beauty of creativity.)

Rediculously simple, just grab em and shake!  Give it a real test and you’ll be amazed!

I discovered this workout while trying to loosen and pull up a huge stake at a construction job site.  It was a rude awakening.   Try to imagine the muscles involved here:  Its a bench press, row, ab and leg workout and anaerobic ball buster;  you’ll quickly find that all of your muscles are strained to the max  and  your intensity it as great as you want it to be –  you can literally shake until you drop!  (or the roots loosen, as in this small tree –  Time for a new set ;)

Hope you add it to your list.

The Challenge:  If you go all out on this routine for 45 seconds I guarantee you will be sore the next day, regardless of your conditioning.  It uses the body in ways like no other exercise I’ve tried (except possibly grappling).




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Antiaging Works After All, Researchers Say…


Your chronological age and your physical age are two different things according to researchers, and it’s possible for two people of the same age to display a dramatically different rate of aging.  But should this really come as a big surprise?  If you are aware of the full range of benefits of a good exercise or diet program – greater strength and energy, weight loss, clearer thinking, improved blood lipid profile, etc., they pretty much mirror the losses attributed to aging.  We have the ability to instigate and witness these differences in ourselves, so why the surprise?

Researchers at Duke university studied aging in 954 young adults, reviewing their “progress” at two intervals ; age 26 and age 38.  Using a broad spectrum of parameters such as hip/waist ratio, blood pressure, cognitive ability, organ function, and even telemetric length, they were able to assess a “biological age” differential among the subjects of up to 33 years. (Some 38 years olds had a physical age of 28 while their peers indicated age 61)  Their findings were published in the Proceedings of the Nat. Academy of Sciences.

I have advocated many simple protocols to address virtually the whole list of age factors they examined.  If you begin a simple exercise program (ideas), limit processed foods, and start a simple inexpensive supplement program, you not only will look and feel better for it, but you will actually age far slower than you would otherwise.  So does chronological aging really matter?

Age wonderfully, not gracefully.


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Have a Pain Killer for Dessert

Cherry rx

If you were on a trail and saw a bunch of these hanging from a bush would you possibly grab one?  I know I would –  and that’s exactly what nature intended me to do.

Cherries are the perfect summer food.  They’re light, delicious and provide needed quick energy.  But the real beauty of cherries are in their multitude of clinically proven health benefits.  They are little red dynamos and can be used in many ways:

*   Cherries have documented anti inflammatory properties; they have  shown in studies to markedly reduce the muscle pain associated with working out.  They are the best source of anthocyanins and anthocyanidins present in colorful fruits; these phytonutrients put a damper on the muscle damage, inflammation and oxidative stress inherent with exercise.  Tart cherries in particular also outperform strawberries, grapes, apples and other fruits in levels of flavonols  and other polyphenols.  They can control levels of Cox-1 and Cox-2 enzymes as well as Tumor necrosis factor, a cytokine involved in inflammation and possible destruction of joint cartilage.  Not a bad health tonic, I say.

*  Cherries  have been shown to be effective in lessening insomnia.  If you ever experience waking in the middle of the night and turning to the clock for hours before finally passing out they might be your salvation.  Cherries are a natural source of melatonin the sleep hormone, and its precursor tryptophan; having a small glass of pure juice before bed might help you to doze off and stay that way through the night.

*  Cherries are a natural cure for that post meal sweet tooth.  Having a small glass (as I do) after dinner dramatically cuts the dietary-fatal dessert overload.  Tart cherry juice is lower in sugar than sweet cherries, I throw on a handful of frozen blueberries to chill and spruce it up.

Want a truly smart drink suggestion?  Purchase a bottle of pure tart cherry juice and some pure pomegranate juice (not from concentrate).  Mix these in a glass till you get your favorite blend, then add some sparkling water.  Then make a large batch of it to keep in the fridge.  Next step – throw out all the coke and other sugar-repository soft drinks you have kicking around.  Try your own bubbling concoction for a while and you’ll probably never go back.  This is an example of strategic dieting at its best!

Hope it works for you



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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

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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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