Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Why, when *I* was your age...

A few years ago, while I was watching an old rerun of the Cosby Show, adorable little Raven came on with her cute, chubby little cheeks and started pulling her trademark sass on grandpa.

This of course was long before Raven had turned psychic or came out as gay, so it was long enough ago that I honestly can't remember how the scene ended.

I'm guessing it could have ended with her being even more sassy and being the only one who somehow could magically put grandpa Cosby in his place, so he just sullenly shoved some Jello pudding in his mouth.

But I do distinctly remember that I apparently and suddenly turned into an old Jewish mom.

I know this because I turned to my daughter and said, "oh my god, Raven was so cuuuute!"  (Yes, with four "U"s.)

Then with all earnestness I blurted out, "you need to hurry up and make me a cute grand-baby!"

I felt this was a perfectly insightful thing to say, but my wife had several suggestions for me which included, "let her finish college first" and "shut up". 

I said I would take both into consideration and then both these sometimes scary women proceeded to inform me that I am "weird". They do this regularly, as if I don't know already.

What I didn't tell them is I don't just want to chew on an adorable chubby grand-babies cheeks. I am not that short-sighted.

I obviously also have secret plans on spoiling them with sugar, toys, money, etc. before sending them back to mom and dad.  (They are secret plans, so please do not tell the women folk.)

But most importantly, I have an enormous amount of wisdom and rich history to pass on to my future ancestors. I am literally full of it!  And according to my beard and hairline, there is a definite expiration date on this stuff.

So, for a sneak preview... here are just a few things with which I will regale (Olde Englishe for "bore the hell out of") my grandchildren. 

Needless to say, almost every parable and proverb will start with, "why, when *I* was your age...".  I am guessing most will also be yelled.:

  • Why, when *I* was a kid, we didn't have fancy "talky boxes" to play "crushy candies" or "angry flipping the birds" on the toilet. We read bottles and tubes and we had to read the same ones again and again!  The only reason we ever tried new brands of shampoo or toothpaste was to get something new to read while we pooped!
  • You know, we didn't have these fancy shmancy $400 Samsung Galaxy "flashlights" just so we could make it from the bedroom to the bathroom without banging into things. The most painful injury mankind ever invented besides childbirth is stubbing your toe! It's how most of our favorite cuss words even got invented! And most of you little brats won't even know the pleasure of that!
  • Why am I yelling!
  • Before she shot up and robbed that bank and went on the high speed interstate police chase that landed her in San Quentin, she was actually a cute little girl who played on her own show, "Hannah Montana".  I couldn't stand her then either!
  • Before was everyone's homepage, it was a website called "Bookface" or "Facebook"... I can't remember.  It had a blue bar at the top.  But we weren't required by law to post status updates twice a day like now.  We only posted because we were bored or desperately needing attention!
  • Go get grandpa another scotch. And bring your little brother over here so I can chew on his chubby little cheeks!
  • Hey! Where are you going!  



*grabs remote control and turns on the AllseeingeyeVision *

*shoves another spoonful of pudding into face*

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Non-negotiables of Healthy Eating

I have not written a blog post in a while for our Healthy Understanding group and have been meaning more and more to do so, largely because I never stop seeing the constant parade of fad diets and the flood of information out there.

If you are relatively new to trying to eat healthy or exercise, you may be overwhelmed by how many different opinions, diets and workout programs seem to be competing for our attention.  And all of them of course advertise themselves as the absolute best way to do it.

For exercise, should you do a workout program at your gym, DVD program, CrossFit, Zumba, Jazzercise, circuit training, running, lifting, swimming, etc. etc. ???

For diet, should you do paleo, gluten free, vegan, Mediterranean, DASH, Mayo clinic, HCG, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Atkins, South Beach or maybe a shake like Shakeology, Vitalus, etc. etc. etc. ???

With "health and wellness" being an over $60 Billion a year industry, the books, diets and exercise fads will keep coming out... year after year after year. Because we keep buying them!  And we keep buying them because they either do not work or only work short term.

It would be OK if people were not just losing weight and gaining it right back. It would be OK to buy a new diet book each year if you were becoming more and more independent, knowledgeable and regularly eating healthy.

Trying a new exercise program or sport every year to keep yourself interested and enjoying it would be fine too, just as long as we KEEP moving and are not suddenly clueless and lost if we suddenly are without access to a gym, group program or DVD player.

In my trying to make permanent changes to my diet and exercise to better manage my chronic pain and other health issues, the first thing I noticed was the mountain of often contradicting information on diet. Some diets called carbs the enemy and others blamed fat, while others blamed animal protein.

The other thing that was intimidating was book after book with all these recipes and exact measurements that made me feel like I would be lost ever trying to memorize them all or if the books were suddenly not available.

To cut through all the mass information, I recommend reading books that find some commonalities of healthy diets and exercise regimens, like Healthy at 100 and Younger Next Year. Another new and popular one is called The Blue Zones.

Healthy at 100 was especially enlightening for me, as the author details studies that were done specifically to find the healthiest people in the world and find their commonalities. The book takes you to the Black Sea, Ecuador, Pakistan and Japan to try to find out why certain groups there are so much more long lived and relatively disease free compared to America and the rest of western world.

While there were a lot of amazing differences in these cultures and peoples, they all also had some very clear commonalities that for me help define what I think are the absolute non-negotiable requirements of diet and exercise for being healthy.

I am not focusing on exercise here, but I will just quickly touch on the fact that these remote and often technologically primitive peoples do not have gym memberships or DVD players!

What they often must do is walk for hours almost every day across very rough terrains and do that well into their 80s and 90s.  That's it. Walking.  But with the often rough terrain, that means a low to moderate workout almost every single day of their lives, just to get from one place to another.  So they statistically are living longer and much more disease free than most of us with a low impact, low intensity, moderate resistance, mostly full body workout. By simply walking at least several hours a day.

But of course, arguably most importantly, they have radically different diets than most Americans.

We focus on "diets" as short term crashes and deprivation of our favorite junk food to quickly lose a few pounds so we can fit into a bathing suit... and then go back to crappy, unhealthy eating.

But for these healthiest and longest lived peoples of the world, diet still stands for its root etymology from the original Greek word "diaita" which literally means "way of life".

They eat the same variety of healthy foods and abstain from the same western diet junk their whole lives. And are much healthier, disease free, stronger, mobile and arguably happy for it.

From their commonalities, I have derived a fairly short list of what I consider the absolute non-negotiable requirements for healthy eating. This does not even touch on the huge list of things most Americans have to practice to rid their diets of the junk and eat better. It simply states this is what healthy eating looks like.

Here at what I consider the incredibly simple but absolute non-negotiable requirements of healthy eating and which guide most of my choices every day:

  • Most of the diet consisting of whole, fresh plant food
  • Half or more of diet is (seasonal) variety of whole, fresh greens, vegetables and fruits
  • Moderate intake of only whole grains
  • Very low to moderate intake of animal protein
  • Regular intake of healthy omega-3 fatty acids
  • ZERO refined sugar, refined flour or processed foods
That's it. There are a thousands reasons WHY this type of diet (lifestyle, not fad) works and why the average American diet is killing us in comparison, but we complicate things far too much.  For the absolute majority of Americans, it would be impossible to not become healthier by switching to the tenets of this incredibly simple "diet".

There's no meticulous measuring or demonizing of one particular food or group. You could focus on paleo, gluten free, Mediterranean or vegan, but the weight loss and health benefits each of those diets have over the average American diet still draw back to the main points above.

We're eating too much meat, too much grain (wheat) and far, far too much sugar. We're not eating enough fruits and vegetables or healthy omega-3 fats. And that plain and simple is why we're so overweight and sick.

While you could argue that a good start or baby step for many would be to just eat MORE vegetables and LESS sugar, if the above type of "diet" seems impossible or unacceptable to you, then you need to ask if being healthy is even truly critically important to you or do you just want to lose weight?

The problem for many Americans continues to be changing how they eat in a way that is permanent and a diet that truly becomes a "way of life" to live longer and healthier, not to just to lose the same 25 to 50 pounds over and over each year.

If you want to switch from bouncing back and forth between diets and regaining pounds, you should start by asking which aspects of eating healthy for you are non-negotiable!