Persistence – The Art of Winning By Wearing Down the Gods

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

Have you ever tried a dozen different ways to accomplish something and then finally realized the gods are just working against you? Take weight loss, for instance. That seems to be the topic of the day. Everybody is complaining about eating too much and not being able to get out and work it off. Not that I was working anything off before, but at least now I have an excuse. Right?

I think I’ve tried just about everything short of surgery and diet pills. And believe me, in 24 years of fighting this beast, that covers a lot of ground. It seems every year, there’s some new miracle diet or food item that just magically melts away the pounds. I guess it goes without saying that most of the studies behind those claims are paid for by the people trying to sell those foods.

With few exceptions, I’ve tried it all. First there was the one that said eat cereal three times a day. Okay, I never really tried that one. Once the little marshmallows are gone, the rest is just soggy oats. I did try the Atkins diet, and lost a few pounds. But I knew I was in over my head the day I looked at a piece of communion bread and thought, “How many carbs are in that?”

Then there was the one that said don’t just eat three meals – eat all day. Okay, maybe that’s not exactly what it said, but that was the message I got from it. I gained ten pounds and my A1C went up six points. Then there was the three-day cleanse. I lost a few pounds but three days later the weight was back and we were out of toilet paper. That’s not a risk I’m willing to take right now.

I even tried some supplements. I mean, come on … all it takes is concentrated grapefruit to melt away the pounds? I can do that! After all, it’s just like eating M&Ms. I’m pretty sure that’s what got me this way to begin with. Then I read the fine print on those bottles. You know, the part that comes after the asterisk. “When combined with proper diet and exercise.”

Are you kidding me? Even I’m not stupid enough to fall for that. ANYTHING can make you lose weight with proper diet and exercise, including diesel fuel. In fact, that one may help you take it off even faster. I’m not sure the doctor would approve, but so far his advice hasn’t done much for the cause.

“It’s simple Dave … just lose one pound a week.” Right. It’s simple Doc. Just grow one new brain cell a week. Then go stand on a scale, because that plan sure as hell isn’t working for you. And why is it that the doctor’s scale is always calibrated eight pounds heavier than mine? Care to guess why my blood pressure was so high? Try checking it first, and THEN put me on the scale.

Okay, I’m having a little bit of fun with this, but the truth is, there’s nothing really fun about being overweight. I had to get down on the ground to open a water valve on the RV and I almost didn’t get back up. I’m pretty sure the neighbors thought I was drunk, because I fell three times. And the only thing that can make me run is an ice cream truck. Then I’m faster than the kids.

We all have something about ourselves that we’d like to change. It’s not enough to know we should change, or even that we have to. We have to want to, more than we want whatever it is that’s holding us back. I have a full assortment of meal replacements that would help me lose weight. They taste good and don’t leave me hungry. The problem is, I like cheeseburgers. A lot.

It all comes down to one simple fact. Nothing changes until we change. Whether it’s weight, physical fitness, learning a new skill, improving our financial status, or just about anything else, we have to take the first step. That’s the easy part. What’s hard is doing it again and again and again until we finally reach our goal, no matter how long it takes.

Nobody likes to swing and miss. It’s even harder when you do it over and over and over. But unlike baseball, you can keep swinging until you get on base. Sure, a home run would be nice, but a single still puts you in position to score. And once you cross home plate, it doesn’t matter how long it took to get there. The scoreboard still reads the same.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Good Health Doesn’t Just Happen – You Have To Want It

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

For the first day in a week, I woke up relatively free of back pain. That’s “relatively” in the sense that my first car was relatively free of dents. You know, after I hit the open tailgate of a parked pickup truck. Most of the car was fine, but that one headlight pointed to the stars. It didn’t hurt the truck a bit. Naturally.

I’ve got a condition doctors refer to as degenerative disc disease. I don’t think it’s a disease as much as the fact that the discs in my lower back are trashed. And every now and then one slips to the side enough to let my spine sit directly on a nerve. They say the Latin term is hurtus alotus maximus. I’m not so sure about that, but I do have some pretty juicy French terms for it.

I’m told it’s just part of aging. You know, in the sense that I packed on a bunch of extra weight and it’s been sitting on my spine for the better part of thirty years. It’s like driving around with sacks of concrete in the trunk of your car. Sooner or later, you’re gonna wear out the tires. Come to think of it, I need to check them. They’ve been carrying this weight a while, too.

Lose some weight, you say? Well, thanks! Why didn’t I think of that? I’ll just get right on it. By this time next week I should be in good shape. Maybe after that I’ll go run a marathon. Oh, how I wish it were that easy. Not the marathon. I don’t run unless somebody is chasing me with a snake. Then I could outrun Jesse Owens. Only until I find a stick big enough to knock them out.

Extra body weight is a problem in this country, and in most of the world. If you don’t believe me, take a look around. Just don’t stare. Fat people don’t like that, especially if you’re skinny. If you’re fat, too, they just think you’re flirting. And fat people don’t like that. Okay, we do. We just don’t say it out loud.

The problem with body weight is that it builds slowly, giving us time to adjust. We barely notice when we need pants that are one size larger. We just blame it on the brand. “These pants must run a little small.” No, your butt runs a little big. We can say it. You’d think by the time we’re six sizes larger we’d get the hint. But no. Even then it’s only one size larger than before.

The same thing happens with our general health. We don’t really notice when we find ourselves running a little slower or waking up more tired each day. “It’s just a normal part of aging.” Well, maybe. But I think we accept that excuse a little too easily. We compare ourselves to people who are much older and decide this is normal. “We’re all headed that way.”

Well, sure. We are all headed that way. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept it without a fight. Losing weight is harder as we get older. The same is true of maintaining our health. The difference is, one comes from how much we eat and the other comes from how much we don’t eat. Sure, the gas tank is full. But if it’s full of sugar, you won’t be going very far.

Doctors tell us to eat a balanced diet with all the right nutrients. Well, guess what? In order to get all the nutrients your body needs, you’d have to eat several pounds of the right foods every day. And that’s if you could even find those foods. Most of what we can buy in the supermarket is seriously lacking in nutrients. Even fresh produce. Ever heard of soil depletion?

That’s not to say we can’t make better choices, but even a strict vegetarian has vitamin deficiencies. On the other hand, vegetarians are more likely to use supplements, because they’ve done the research and they know. As a result, most of them stay reasonably healthy later in life than the rest of us.

Our bodies were designed to convert nutrients from a broad variety of foods into the chemicals we need to thrive. Not survive – thrive. And the longer we cheat ourselves of those nutrients, the sooner we’ll feel the effects of age. Meanwhile, we’ll probably get some bigger pants to go along with it. Kinda like that hidden surprise in your cereal.

It’s all about choices, compounded over time. And right now, I can imagine there are a lot of people wishing they’d done a little more to maintain good health. There is no vitamin or supplement that’ll keep you from getting sick. But starting off healthy can make a world of difference in your recovery.

We can’t lose weight overnight, and we can’t get healthy in a day. Choices compounded over time. The sooner we start making the right choices, the longer we’ll be able to enjoy a reasonably healthy life.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Choking on Change? Take Smaller Bites

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

I think today I need to do a little research on inflammation. Something is causing my belly to swell. And before you go where we both know you’re about to go, I’m not gaining weight. Okay, I’m 12 pounds higher than I was a month ago, but I’m not gaining now. At least not since yesterday. So, it must be some kind of allergic reaction to something I ate. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

When I put my pants on this morning, or rather, when I tried to put my pants on this morning, the buttonhole had moved to the left. Not that much, but enough to make me twist and dance. An inch may not seem like much when you’re measuring area rugs, but it may as well be a mile when you’ve bent over, sucked in everything, and you’re still an inch short in getting your pants buttoned.

And they don’t make buttonhole extenders to close that gap. If you get on a plane and you’re too fat to buckle your seatbelt, they’ve got extenders for that. Not that I would know from personal experience. I guess I could just put on a belt and tighten it up like a noose. Then if I put on a really long shirt, nobody would know, right? If I had a shirt that long. They all shrunk. Don’t say it.

But it can be dangerous wearing clothing that’s a little too tight. And no, ladies, I’m not talking to you. Tight is good (to an extent). But if you have a body like mine, don’t do it. I was in a meeting once, wearing a dress shirt that was a little too snug, and when I reached for my pen a button popped off. I don’t mean it fell off and landed in my lap. It shot across the table so everybody could see.

Shirt buttons are relatively harmless in that regard, but if the metal button on my jeans were to fly off, especially under that much pressure, it could bring down a small plane. And never mind how many times I’ve sat down at work to the welcome sound of thread popping in the seat of my pants.

Yes, I need to go shopping. The problem is, most stores only carry clothing in “common” sizes, and apparently, I’ve reached the lower end of the “uncommon” bracket. No, I’m not huge. Well, depending on who’s standing next to me. I look pretty big next to those hardbodies in the gym, but next to Rush Limbaugh, I’d be invisible. Maybe I just need to make some new friends.

Okay all joking aside (well, most) the bottom line is I need to lose some weight. I’ve been saying that for several years, if you define “several” in terms of decades. This all started when I got out of the Navy, and it shot through the roof when I quit smoking. I remember my doctor telling me he’d rather I were 100 pounds overweight than smoking. All my brain took from that conversation was I had another 50 pounds to go.

And, before anybody says “Keto,” just don’t. In study after study (you know, those not paid funded companies selling pork rinds and cheese sticks), the Keto diet ranks dead last or close to it in terms of safety, heart health, usability, and bad breath. Okay, I threw that last one in from personal experience. Anybody who’s ever experienced “Keto breath” knows what I’m talking about.

So, the first order of business this morning is to buy a bigger pair of jeans. Thankfully there’s a Walmart nearby and nobody will even notice my pajamas. Then, I have to get serious about taking this weight off. Not the 12 pounds I’ve gained, but the whole enchilada. There I go talking about food again.

Losing weight is hard. Like anything else in life, it means doing something differently – making changes that you know you should make, but wish you didn’t have to. And we face lots of those decisions all through life. It’s easier if you set a goal and then work toward it. But I won’t lie, the goal alone doesn’t make the change any easier. Success, even just a little, makes the difference.

It’s okay to set a big goal, with the end result clearly in sight. But break that goal down into smaller, more manageable bites (food again), and celebrate those small wins. With each one, you’ll become that much more confident you can make it to the end. Focus on the small wins, and the bigger ones will come. Make that your goal for today. I did. But first, I need to go shopping.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What Is That You’re Eating???

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

Yesterday evening, we had to make a mid-week grocery trip. We normally have a few items to pick up here and there, but not enough to make it much of a shopping excursion. But for whatever reason, this week was different. We’re finding that some items just don’t keep as long as they used to, so we buy in smaller quantities and fill up more often. And yes, sometimes we just forget things. It happens.

In some cultures, the idea of going through a supermarket with a shopping cart filled with a week’s worth of groceries is as foreign as the thought of walking through an outdoor market full of fresh meat, breads, and produce would be to us. But that’s exactly what they do. Every morning, street vendors set out fresh food, and people buy what they need for that day. Nothing ever goes bad.

When I watch shows filmed in other countries, one thing that always catches my eye is the size of their refrigerators. They remind me of the ones we had when I was a kid – the old Kelvinators with a latch on the door and a freezer on top that needs to be defrosted with a hair dryer and ice pick every month. I’ve had one or two of those myself. What we’ve got today is a monstrosity by comparison.

And yet, we still run out of room. Every time we go shopping, something else gets pushed to the back. Then, when you need something, you can’t find it. So, you go to the store and buy more. And as you’re rearranging everything else to make room for what you just bought, you find the one that’s been sitting there all along. Except now, the expiration date has passed, and it has to be thrown out.

There’s something to be said for downsizing and only buying what we need. Freshness is never an issue, because you don’t keep things around long enough for them to go bad. Storage isn’t a problem. And it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what’s for dinner – you’re eating what you bought today because tomorrow it’ll have to be thrown out. All they really store is grains and dry goods.

And you know what? The people in those countries live longer and enjoy a better quality of life than those of us in the modernized world. They’re healthy, vibrant, and active well into their golden years for one simple reason – they didn’t allow technology to replace what nature intended.

I’ve noticed the strawberries in our local grocery store have gotten bigger over the years. I guess that could be due to improved farming practices, but I have to be honest – when I look at them I get images of a strawberry field catching the runoff from a nearby nuclear plant. It’s not very appetizing. And truly, those monster strawberries just don’t taste as good as the smaller ones anyway.

A lot of that could be the result of selective breeding, or even some level of genetic restructuring. And it’s not just strawberries. Peppers, tomatoes, bananas, and most other produce has gradually gotten bigger. I’ve seen navel oranges that are as big as a grapefruit. But, is bigger really better?

According to the USDA and agricultural universities, the nutrient levels in our produce have dropped significantly over the past fifty years, in some cases by as much as 70%. You may be filling your belly, but you’re not doing much for your body. It’s just one of the reasons nutritionists now recommend eating 7-10 servings of fruit and vegetables each day. It’s the only way to get the nutrients we need.

But how many of us actually do that? I know I don’t. If I’m being completely honest, I probably get 3-4 servings a day. Of the good stuff, that is. I get plenty of the junk I don’t need, which is why I have to keep buying these big pants. For a nation that’s so full of overweight people, we are among the most malnourished populations in the world. We’re eating plenty. We’re just not eating right.

If we could set aside a few conveniences and borrow a few habits from other countries, we could begin to turn that around. Instead of seeing how much food we can store in our refrigerators, maybe we should try shopping for a day or two at a time. Instead of loading a cart with groceries, shop with a hand basket. And instead of filling the cabinet with canned goods, fill it with beans and whole grains.

By being more selective about the foods we buy, we’re more sensible about the foods we eat. Things don’t sit around and go bad, and we don’t have to load up on preservatives in the process. When we open the refrigerator, we can find what we need. And, over the long haul, our bodies and bank accounts will both benefit as a result.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved