A Healthy Future Begins With the Choices You Make Today

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Well, April is over. Did you accomplish the things you’d planned during the month? I got started, if that counts. I guess it depends who’s keeping score. But you know how that works. Still, May is less than 24 hours away and, just like a brand-new week, it’s another chance to start over and get some things done.

Yesterday I mentioned how productive I was Sunday. I also mentioned that instead of the fifteen-minute sprints I’d recommended, I cleaned for a few straight hours, and then mowed the lawn. I felt pretty productive. But yesterday morning, my lower back decided to make me pay for it. By noon, I was in agony. It happens. And if this morning is any indication, today won’t be any better.

There are consequences for the things we do to our body. In my case, it’s a combination of age, weight, and too many years of treating my back like it was made of steel. Bad posture, poor lifting, and all those endless hours bouncing down the road in a vehicle with little to no lumbar support. Sooner or later, you have to pay the piper.

And of all those things, the only one I can do anything about today is my weight. It’s really a simple concept – the more weight you carry above your lower spine, the more that weight presses down on it. And the discs at the bottom get all the abuse. Lose the weight, and there’s less for the spine to support. Voila!

If only it were that simple. Anybody who’s ever tried to lose weight knows how hard it can be. I’m on a program that works, when I stick with the program. I’m back on it, and the results are beginning to show. But all it takes is a few days of hot lunches and the next thing you know, nothing but a hot lunch will do. Ice cream before bed becomes a habit just as quickly.

But as I said, there are consequences for the choices we make. Some are good, some not so good. Beyond just our weight, our body’s physiological health is largely determined by what goes in our mouth. And too much of anything just isn’t good. Especially when that “anything” isn’t good for you to begin with.

You’ve heard the term “empty calories.” It’s how we describe food (I use the word loosely) that’s rich in calories and devoid of any redeeming nutritional value. Twinkies would be at the top of the list, followed closely by donuts, potato chips, and a whole host of other items we know we shouldn’t be eating. But we do it anyway. And then we do it again. After all, nobody can eat just one.

That advertising slogan from the early 1960s hit the nail on the head. It was almost a challenge. “Betcha can’t eat just one!” And the truth is, your body is engineered to take that challenge and prove them right. Unless it’s a flavor you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, every one you eat makes you want at least one more. Next thing you know the bag is empty and you’re stuffed.

There’s a simple reason for that. When we eat simple carbohydrates, our body immediately turns those carbs into glucose. We get a mild energetic boost that we may not even notice, but it’s there. Until it’s not there, which happens in a matter of minutes. Then the boost is gone, and your body wants it back. And the cure is all so simple – just eat a few more.

I’m not even sure Frito Lay knew the science behind that slogan back in the 60s, but we know it today. And still, every grocery store has an entire aisle devoted exclusively to salty high-carbohydrate snacks.

We have choices during the day. Instead of refined carbs, we can choose more complex carbs. A piece of celery may not seem all that appealing at first, but if the only goal is to satisfy the urge to snack, it gets the job done. If you don’t like celery, try an apple or an orange. Don’t like fruit? Then maybe some sunflower seeds or a handful of mixed nuts.

We have all kinds of options at our disposal. And nobody says you can’t eat a few potato chips from time to time. It’s all about moderation and offsetting those lapses with a few healthier choices the rest of the day. We can eat anything we want and still remain healthy. We just can’t eat it all in the same day.

Healthy choices aren’t always as appealing, and they do take a little more planning. But as you age, your body will reward you for whatever choices you made along the way. Make sure that reward is something you’d choose.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

It’s All About the Choices We Make

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off well.

As many of you know, I’ve been on a journey to lose weight. And it’s not just a few pounds I need to lose – we’re talking about a third of my body weight. I’ve had some good days and some not so good, but overall the good days are winning. Still, it doesn’t take much to set things back. One weekend on the road, sitting in a car and eating road food, is enough to turn things around.

It seems we always look for the perfect excuse to explain why we’re not doing the things we need to do. It’s too cold outside. It’s too hot. There’s nothing healthy on the menu. The gym is too crowded this time of day. My favorite TV show is on. And my all-time favorite … it was a buffet! What do you expect when you hand me an empty plate in front of all that food???

It’s all about choices, and we make them all the time, even when we’re not really thinking about it. I always got a kick out of people going into McDonalds and ordering a Big Mac, large fries, apple pie, and a diet Coke. Nice try, but at that point, I don’t think diet anything will do much good. You might as well just go for the real thing.

When I stepped on the scale this morning, it rewarded me for a weekend of poor choices. Okay, and a couple of days since the weekend as well. Once you get out of the habit of eating healthy, even for a few days, your body is so happy to have its comfort food back that you tend to just keep on going down the same path. At least I do. And it takes effort to turn it around.

Maybe the wiser choice would have been to just stay on the program in the first place. I have healthy things I could have taken on the road with me. I didn’t have to eat fast food. I could have eaten a salad instead of a burger. Or a plate of fresh fruit with breakfast instead of hash browns. The fact is, I looked at all the tasty things on that menu and threw weight loss right out the window.

Warm weather has finally arrived, and around my house, that means it’s time to fire up the grill. My wife loves grilling out, because I do it. Somehow, she’s never figured out how to light a grill or set the perfect cooking temperature. I’m beginning to think I shouldn’t have been so eager to learn how to use a washing machine, but that’s another story.

But even with the grill, we have choices. I can cook hamburgers and hot dogs, or I can cook skinless chicken and shrimp. I can cook barbecued ribs or lean pork. I can cook steaks or salmon. Okay, that last one is just for me. I’m not even allowed to cook it in the house and nobody else will eat it. Still, it’s a choice I can make. And I have little doubt I’ll make the wrong choice a bunch of times this summer.

And that’s okay. We’re only human. But when we make the wrong choice, we should at least try to minimize the damage with some of our other choices. And no, diet soda doesn’t count. Maybe some fresh fruit as a side dish, and a walk around the neighborhood after dinner. Maybe a healthy lunch on days when I know we’re having ribs for dinner.

And maybe it’s as simple as eating a little less of the bad stuff instead of gorging. People who are trying to lose weight call that a “cheat day.” They’ll even tell you it’s important to do that every now and then. I’m not so sure about that, but even if you do cheat a little, that doesn’t mean you have to go wild. Keep it in check and balance it with some healthier choices. Minimize the damage. That’s all.

We face choices every day. At work, at home, at mealtime, in family interaction, in our personal goals, at the grocery store, driving past the gym, and dozens of other times during the day. It’s the things we choose that make the difference. They shape our being, they shape our body, they shape our relationships, and they shape our future. Mistakes are inevitable. But keeping our eye on the goal is what determines where we end up.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Exercise is a Good Thing – Taken in Moderation

Good morning! I hope you’re all having a fantastic day so far.

For the past several days, I’ve awakened to some pretty welcome news, courtesy of the bathroom scale. It seems I’m finally in the groove and what I’m doing is beginning to pay off. And yes, the batteries in the scale are fresh, thank you. All told, I’ve lost a total of 17 pounds since I started this downhill journey, and I couldn’t be happier.

I’m using a Body Key app on my phone that tracks my weight and chimes in with virtual pats on the back and helpful tips along the way. It’s designed to take you through three phases of the weight loss journey, with the ultimate goal of weaning you off the meal replacement products and sending you on your way lighter, healthier, and better equipped to continue toward your ultimate goal.

Yesterday morning, along with a message of praise for being a good boy, the app suggested now may be the time to start mixing in some exercise. Damn. It just had to go there! All this time we’ve been getting along so well, and now it wants me to intentionally put my body through stretching and pulling exercises that have the sole effect of making me smell bad. Just lovely.

I joke about that a lot, but I actually enjoy exercise. Well, I enjoy it while I’m doing it. Getting me to the gym is another matter entirely. There are just too many other things to do. Like watching TV, surfing the internet, or standing in the front door staring at absolutely nothing. I’d like to say I have a better excuse, but that’s about as good as it gets.

Part of my issue with exercise has been my lower back. The last several times I’ve started into a workout routine, it lasted about a week before I started walking around hunched over like an old man. Okay, an older man. Much older. Ten years at least. And as soon as that kicks in, my days of exercising are over for the time being. And it seems “time being” lasts a lot longer than it used to.

It’s the classic Catch-22. My back hurts because of all this extra weight I’ve been carrying around. If I want to lose an appreciable amount of weight, exercise is part of the formula. So, I nurse my back into reasonable shape and start exercising. And then I’m lucky to walk. Can I get an amen?

Well, with the loss so far, my back is beginning to feel better. Not great, but I can honestly say it’s more discomfort than pain, and as long as I can keep it at that level, exercise should be no problem. My problem is learning how to ease into something. As soon as I get back to the gym, I want to do it all. I get frustrated that my strength isn’t what it used to be, and I want that back. NOW.

It’s important to eat exercise. And it’s equally important to listen to your body along the way. A trick I’ve learned over the years is to go in one day, do a quick routine that includes one set of everything, but a little lighter on the weights, and then rest for a couple of days before I go back. That usually helps me avoid the typical first-workout muscle pain. You know, the kind that hits you two days later when you can’t do a thing about it.

From there, I can usually get back into a routine. And I guess I need to pay more attention to exercises I can do while seated, with full back support, instead of standing there swinging weights like Tarzan. Again, we have to listen to our body. What works for one person could destroy another. At this point, I’m even scared of the treadmill. So, I’ll do what I can do and hope for the best.

Weight loss is a problem, and if you’re suffering with it yourself, you’re not alone. Obesity is a national epidemic that’s spread to much of the world. Yet we are among the most mal-nourished people on the planet, thanks to processed food and junk. I’m learning that you can’t achieve sustained weight loss simply through diet or exercise – you have to give it the 1-2 punch.

And moderation is the key to success. Each day try to do just a little better than yesterday. Or maybe each week. Remember those Monday morning resolutions? Don’t try to do it all at once, because your body will revolt and then you’ll be worse off than you were. It’s not a race – it’s a marathon, long and slow. And the goal is simply to cross the finish line, no matter how long it takes. You can do this!

That’s all for now. Be healthy and have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Wanna Get Healthy? Take a Walk!

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

For those who read my post yesterday, I’m happy to report that my coffee maker is working just fine today. So, I’m sitting here sipping a steaming cup of Southern Pecan flavored coffee as I put my morning thoughts into words. Let’s hope it’s a good combination.

That said, I did drop one of my hearing aids on the multi-colored carpet this morning and had to spend the next ten minutes with a flashlight trying to find it. Turns out all that dust under the bed is the perfect camouflage for something that small. I think I know what’s first on my to-do list for this weekend.

We talk a lot about exercise and getting healthy. It’s by far the number one New Year’s resolution each year, which means there are a whole lot of people talking about it but not doing a thing to accomplish that goal. But in any discussion of dreams, it only makes sense to think about our health. Because all the best life has to offer isn’t much fun if you’re not able to enjoy it.

Open the internet and you’ll find dozens of articles describing the “miracle” diet or the “perfect” exercise. And, to be fair, some of them offer a little bit of decent advice. But if you want to know the absolute best form of exercise, get up and take a walk. Think about that perfect exercise as you walk. Do it every day, a few times a day. The answer will come to you, I promise.

Walking is, without a doubt, the best thing we can do for our physical and emotional health. And that doesn’t mean just taking a stroll to the restroom whenever the urge hits. According to the American Heart Association, we should all strive for at least 10,000 steps per day. With an average stride, that’s roughly five miles. You can’t get that pacing around the living room. It takes effort.

But it’s not that hard if you make it a priority. Instead of sitting in the break room, eating vending machine food as you commiserate with friends about your job, or your boss, or who got the last promotion and who they had to brown-nose to get it, get outside and take a walk! First of all, it’ll clear your head. All the stresses of the day fade into the background. It’s even better than alcohol.

Beyond just clearing your mind, a brisk walk has lots of physical benefits as well. It improves your heart and lung health, and reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke. It builds stronger bones and improves balance. It increases muscle strength and endurance and reduces body fat. And it’s a great way to manage high blood pressure, cholesterol, joint pain, and diabetes. And best of all, it’s free!

All of those benefits from something you learned to do as a toddler. And I know what you’re thinking. “Who has time for a walk every day? I usually have to work through lunch!” Well, make time. If you can’t take off for a half-hour at lunchtime, get out and take a stroll around the block once or twice a day. You’ll be back before anyone even realizes you were gone.

When you get home, take a walk around the neighborhood. You might even make some new friends. And if you live or work in an area where you just don’t feel completely safe taking a walk by yourself, get some friends to go along with you. Drive to a mall and take a few laps there. Go to your local park. Odds are they have at least one or two trails.

It’s all about priorities and alternatives. Sometimes we can’t do things the way we’d like, but if they’re important enough we find a way. And I’ll be honest, 10,000 steps a day isn’t that hard. My Fitbit registers half that amount simply walking around work (I have a desk job) and maybe going to the store after work. With just a little extra effort, I could be hitting 10,000 steps every day.

Walking, by itself, won’t necessarily get you that beach body you desire, or ward off every illness that comes your way. You may have to add in a couple of other things as well, like eating healthy and doing a little resistance training. But there is no other form of exercise that’s more natural and more beneficial than simply taking a walk.

We’ve been dreaming a lot these past several weeks, and I urge you to follow those dreams. But make sure that when you get there, you’re healthy enough to make the most of them.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Healthy Choices for Healthy Living

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off well.

According to the weatherman, yesterday may have been winter’s last punch in the gut for some of us here in the US Midwest. I sure hope so. We’re not completely out of the woods yet, but the forecasts show gradually rising temperatures into more of what’s considered “normal for this time of year.” Whatever that is. It’s the last time I’ll ever believe that groundhog. Early spring? Right.

Two weeks ago, the stores started putting bathing suits on display. I also put my motorcycle up for sale (again). So far, there hasn’t been a rush to buy either of them. We look at them longingly and think, “Well, if it ever warms up a little, I may have to give that some thought.” Last year, by the time the weather got really nice, the riding season was half-gone. Hopefully we won’t do that again.

But there’s something about bathing suits and spring clothing that makes us look at our winter body and think, “Let’s lose a little of this first.” Sure, we’d love to be among the first to hit the beach, but it would be nice to sunbathe without well-intended animal lovers dumping buckets of water on you. Just me?

First, let’s establish one fact – nobody (but you) cares how you look in a bathing suit. Anyone who does is probably not admiring your bathing suit anyway. Find something that fits correctly and appeals to your sense of style, and rock it. You’re there for your enjoyment, not somebody else’s.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with trying to shed a few pounds and tone up a little if that’s what you want. But a great beach body doesn’t mean much if you’re too sick to take it out for a little sun. It’s easy to get so hung up on losing weight that we make some really poor decisions on how to do it. Here’s a clue – exclusion diets are generally not good for your overall health. Period.

I’ve got a cousin who knows more about healthy eating than most doctors, and right now she’s saying, “Just eat what nature provided!” And you know, there’s something to be said for that. I don’t think anybody can argue that we all need to consume less junk and more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

But that means eating the right balance of foods so we get all the right nutrients. If we leave out entire food groups because somebody told us we’ll burn more fat without them, it’s like running a car without some of the vital fluids. Sooner or later, you’ll hear a loud clunk and find yourself sitting on the side of the road.

Most nutritionists point to the food color wheel as a starting point for ensuring we’re getting everything our body needs. If your plate is filled with color – red, orange, green, purple, and white – you’re off to a good start. And sorry folks, jelly beans don’t count. I don’t make the rules.

When we eat whole foods, we get all the nutrients nature intended. And we process the essential vitamins a lot better because we’re getting everything in balance. Loading up on a single vitamin is generally not beneficial, and it may even cause problems. This is why so many doctors tell patients “You don’t need vitamins – just eat right.”

But most of us don’t eat right. And even if we try, the foods we’re getting don’t have nearly the same amount of nutrients they had decades ago. We can thank modern technology and irresponsible farming practices for that. So, what’s a person to do?

Take a little time to educate yourself. Read something that isn’t an obvious promotion for a certain diet or “miracle food.” Talk to your doctor. Ask to see a nutritionist. Pick up a book in the library. Read labels. Find out what all that information on those labels means. The better you’re able to understand the choices, the better you’re able to make the right choices.

And if you just can’t make those healthy choices, consider a good plant-based multivitamin to help fill in some of the gaps. You’ll pay a little more, but generally speaking, anything that comes from nature is better than a chemically made substitute.

Finally, don’t sacrifice your health in a quest for the perfect body. Set some reasonable goals and discuss them with your doctor. Find something you can live with, something that doesn’t require you to eliminate anything (except maybe donuts) and pay attention to any sign of ill effects.

For most of us, it took years of education and experience to get good at our jobs. If we would invest even a small percentage of that time in learning about nutrition, think of how much healthier we could be. The perfect beach body may never come. But isn’t it more about just getting to the beach? Take care of your health first. The rest will take care of itself.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Happy People Live Happier Lives – It’s a Fact!

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off well.

It’s that time of year when all the germs that have been closed up in our homes over the winter are starting to take their toll. Trust me, there are no germs left outside. They froze weeks ago. In fact, according to the National Pest Management Association, this last “polar vortex” wiped out about 95% of the stink bug population. That means it’ll take them until June to fully repopulate.

But as the cold weather wreaks havoc on bad things outside the home, we’ve done a bang-up job of preserving all those germs indoors. They’ve not only survived, they’ve thrived. After a while, it’s like last week’s leftovers. They all get thrown together for a stew nobody can quite identify.

Until now, everybody was fighting a cold. It was an especially brutal winter for that. But with each cold, we build our immunity for the next one. Of that strain. Next year there will be a whole new batch of germs to contend with. Still, people seem to be getting over the worst of it. But, apparently, we haven’t built up our immunity to the norovirus that’s making its rounds. Lovely.

So far, I’ve dodged the bullet. Both of my grandkids had it over the weekend. They gave it to their mother, who called my wife to pick her up from work when it hit. Well, guess what my wife was up doing all night? I tend to be a little more resistant to these things, but nothing gets past her.

When things aren’t going well, I’ve always said we sometimes need days like this to help us appreciate the good ones. Well, maybe. But I don’t think anybody needs this. I can appreciate a day of backaches and stiff joints just fine without an intestinal bug as a basis for comparison. This is just plain evil.

And all those pounds we thought we shed overnight are just nature’s way of rubbing salt in an open wound, because they’ll be back the first time we eat a slice of peanut butter toast. There’s no up-side to this, except possibly the power-flush of the digestive system. You pretty much start from ground zero on that.

I always try to impart some kind of lesson in my morning posts, but I’m not sure there’s much of a lesson in this one, other than don’t kiss grandkids when they’re sick. And nobody’s going to follow that advice, least of all me. That’s a chance I’ll take any time. Believe me, they outgrow that age far too soon. And those moments are worth whatever consequences they may bring.

I guess if there’s something to be learned from any of this, it’s that we should try a little harder to enjoy each day as it comes. No day will be perfect. You may wake up with a headache (deserved or not), somebody may cut you off in traffic, the boss may be in a bad mood with you squarely in the crosshairs, dinner may be late, whatever. Life happens, and it’s not always pretty.

But that feeble gratitude you feel as you wake up from a night glued to the porcelain with a bucket in your lap, and realize the worst is over and you may be able to eat a cracker for lunch, will overcome just about any bad thing that happens for the rest of the day. It certainly has a way of putting things in perspective.

We’ll all have bad days. And we’ll have even worse nights. But if we take more time to enjoy the good things as they come, the bad stuff just doesn’t have as much of a lasting impact. It sucks for the moment, but when it’s gone, we’re able to get back into enjoying life that much quicker.

I read something yesterday that pretty well sums it up. It said it’s easy to spot a yellow car when you’re thinking of yellow cars; it’s easy to find opportunity when you’re thinking of opportunity; and it’s easy to spot reasons to be mad when you’re thinking of being mad.

We are the sum of our thoughts. If we spend our days looking for reasons to be upbeat, they’re a lot easier to find. And when something we didn’t really deserve comes along to knock the wind out of our sails, it’s that much easier to get back on track. Happiness is a choice we make. And the more we practice it, the easier it becomes.

That’s all for now. Have a happy, healthy, and completely awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Use It Or Lose It

As I inch closer and closer to the age of retirement, I find myself focusing more on health and fitness. I guess that’s a normal thing. When we’re younger, it’s not so much of a concern. Bad things only happen to old people (not true) and we’ll always be able to get out and do the things we enjoy most (also not true, unless it involves a lot of sitting).

We talk a lot about dreams and success, but none of that really matters if we’re too frail or out of shape to enjoy it. When I was in the Navy, we made a port visit to Monaco. A group of us went to the Jacques Cousteau museum, at the top of a cliff next to the port. We had to climb several hundred steps to get there. And, believe me, it was worth the climb.

Now, I’m pretty sure we could have taken a taxi, but we were young and it was a nice day. Besides, the scenery was awesome. And not a one of us was tired when we reached the top. But if I tried that today, I’d never make it past the first 100 steps. And that’s with several rest breaks along the way.

That bothers me, because there are some magnificent attractions in this world that you can only access by climbing stairs. Pyramids don’t have elevators, and I don’t think you can get a helicopter to drop you off at the top. And even if I did make it to the top, I’d probably fall trying to get back down. It’s an attraction I’d have to admire from the ground.

Pick up any travel or leisure magazine, and they’re full of pictures of people zip lining, bungee jumping, or simply hiking up a narrow trail to swim at the base of a waterfall. And never once do you see them sitting on the side of that trail with an inhaler and a bottle of nitroglycerine. These people are having the time of their lives.

Most of us will work for at least forty years before we’re able to retire. All the more reason to set aside some money and do it while we’re still young, but that’s not always an option. Between paying bills, raising a family, and climbing the corporate ladder, life has a way of pushing our plans back. “Next year” we say. “Keep that magazine handy, because someday we’re going to do that!”

Well, magazines are a good way to feed your dreams and, if you’ve been reading these posts any time at all, you know I’m a proponent of dream-building. But if you neglect your health and fitness along the way, all the dreaming in the world won’t fix that. You may still get to your destination and you’ll have fun. But think of all those things you won’t be able to do when you get there.

Make no mistake – as we age, our health and physical abilities will deteriorate. It’s inevitable. But that doesn’t mean we have to passively accept it. And most doctors will tell you that physical activity, even a little, can make a huge difference in not only our level of fitness, but also in our physical and mental health.

I used to bowl on a league, and one night they stopped us mid-game to wish a member of the league a happy birthday. He was 103. More than a hundred years old, and still at it. They handed him a microphone and he told us he’d been bowling his entire life, and that if he hadn’t remained active, he’d have died years ago.

Now, my guess is the ball he was using weighed about half as much as mine, but it’s not about how much you can do – it’s about doing something. Anything to get you out of the house and moving. I see people in the gym who are much older and in much worse shape than I am, struggling to walk a leisurely pace or lift ten pounds. But you know what? They’re trying. They’re doing something.

We all have visions of a better, more relaxing life, and we spend most of our days on this planet working to attain that. And, for most of us, that day will come. We may not retire on a tropical beach or have the means to travel the world. But there’s something to be said for playing with the grandkids or getting through the grocery store without having to stop and take a breather.

So, as you work toward those dreams, make sure you take care of the body that will help you make the most of them. If you’re young and healthy, don’t take that for granted. And if you’re older and less fit, do something about it. Every little bit helps. It’s your life, so make the most of it.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved