There’s Always A Way

Taking steps towards good health

I’m proud of sister-in-law Mary.  She leads an active life, more active than most, and I think she will tell you that a lot of that activity is self-induced.  She has a full-time job and has a very busy social calendar with events, etc.  There are a lot of people I know like that, most everyone these days, and many say they are too busy to exercise.  But does that have to be the case?

I won’t tell you how old Mary is in fear of retribution, however she has a few years on me.  Let’s just say she isn’t a millennial.  So, with all the activities going on in her life, how does she have time to exercise?

First off, if you have been following along, we classify walking as exercise.  For those that aren’t necessarily looking for that beach body physique, those of us 50+, walking is a great exercise with many benefits including relieving stress.  There are more than 10 muscles being used at the same time when you walk, and the heart is one of them.

Mary found time in her busy day by getting up 40 minutes early and hitting the pavement.  She jokes that the first time she ventured out, that she only made it to the cemetery, which is only about 300 yards away.  Over time, however, she has added a little more distance each week and now her morning stroll extends upwards to two miles.

She is a phone person.  In the old answering machine days she once left a message on our machine that nearly used up the whole tape, with the message at the end to simply call her back, lol.  Let’s just say she like to talk and is good at keeping a conversation going.  Anyways, she uses this time to get in her daily call with one of her boys, something she values very much.  This keeps with her active go-go-go lifestyle in that she is using the time to accomplish other tasks as well as getting in her exercise.

Two lessons can be learned, three if you are new to this blog, 1) walking is exercise, 2) start slowly and you will be surprised how all of a sudden you are walking a couple of miles a day, and 3) you can fit it into your day with a little extra discipline.  I guess I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about a 4th lesson, walking can be enjoyable.

Have fun and be good to your heart.  Take a dedicated walk every day, the cemetery can wait.

Chuck

 

Live to Eat, Or Eat to Live?

I had a conversation the other day with someone about what is and what isn’t healthy in terms of food.  We batted around a few things like potato chips, soft drinks, lunch meat, etc., and agreed on all the different foods we discussed.  It’s not rocket science after all, and most of the information out on popular foods has been known for quite a while (although sometimes things change, like with eggs).

At the end of the conversation, the man I was talking to said, “but every now and then you need to eat something that tastes good”.  Although I agreed with him, and stated that it is ok to have a cup of ice cream once or twice a week, or a cheeseburger once or twice a month, does eating healthy mean you have to live on a diet of cardboard?

There are many foods that I like that provide flavor and satisfaction to the taste buds.  Fruit, in moderation, is an example.  I say moderation because of the sugar content.  Yes it is better than processed sugar, but it is still sugar.  We can get into that later.

As for the aforementioned fruit, blueberries are my favorite, primarily because of the nutritional value, and, I find them delicious.  I make multi-grain pancakes now and then, and add blueberries and pecans to the mix.  Top them with some natural butter (Kerrygold, the low sodium version), and real maple syrup, and I’m not sure if there is anything that tastes better.

I know that some people don’t like seafood.  I do, so that makes it easy for me.  Salmon cooked just right, topped with garlic and lemon, or with a dab of that Kerrygold butter and herbs, served with brown rice drizzled in olive oil with garlic and pepper is a great healthy combination that can taste, if prepared properly, fantastic.

If you like meat, that’s ok.  On thing that is recommended almost unanimously is to consider what you eat, eats.  In other words, natural beef or chicken (beware of the word natural, it is not something that is regulated) that is free from hormones, etc., and is free range, grass or grain fed is the healthier choice.  Personally, I try to limit red meat to once every one or two weeks, but that’s just me.

For snacks, peanut butter is my favorite.  I asked someone in the know once if I could still eat my staple PB and J sandwiches (wheat bread and natural jelly), and stay heart healthy.  She said, yes, which made me happy, but then said “eat them without the bread and the jelly”.  Of course, then they are not PB and J sandwiches, are they?  So, I improvised.  Slice a big red apple and smear peanut butter on the wedges.  You don’t have to believe me, try it for yourself, it is a satisfying and nutritious snack.

I won’t lie to you, eating healthy is not all that easy.  It takes planning, will power, and discipline.  Your brain, stomach, and taste buds will be fighting you at first, and they can be very formidable opponents.  It’s kind of war of attrition.  The longer you stay at it, sooner your enemies will give up and actually join the home team.  They will begin to appreciate the flavors of healthy foods.  In my case, it is kind of a matter of survival, so my brain joined with me first.  I have since won over my stomach and taste buds, although I will say, they get what they want every now and then.  That’s ok, remember, moderation is ok.

One last thought along the lines of moderation in regards to healthy eating, you can designate a couple of meals or even a day during the week, where you are going to go off the board and have an unhealthy favorite.  Like that greasy cheeseburger, with an order of fries.  Or maybe add some potato chips (my personal favorite) along with a sandwich.  If it keeps your taste buds happy, then it is a win-win.

This blog isn’t necessarily about dieting.  That is another subject and one that I believe best in the hands of professionals like a registered dietician or your doctor.  Doctors can advise you based on your personal health situation, although many are not actual dietitians.  Walk For The Beat does partner with Stronger U in this area, and more information is available upon request.  They provide information to help their clients reach their goals through nutrition and diet (for the lack of a better word).  As for us, WFTB, we focus on the heart, because in our humble opinion, it all starts with the heart!

 

 

TV Experience

We were featured on Fox 2 News here in Detroit on Saturday morning, and it was a very cool experience.  It was an honor to be included and thanks to Charlie Langton and Fox 2 for having us.

I will say, I was a bit nervous prior to the event, however once we were on the set, it felt somewhat natural.  Charlie is a professional and welcomed us with his usual zeal.  The rest as they say is history.  We had fun, although we were discussing a very serious situation.  I have to say, there is a lot that goes into producing the news.  The content, the timing, the organization, it is endless.  It made me appreciate what goes on behind the scenes to get the finished product.

It was nice to have our organization, Walk For The Beat, highlighted, and great to have Dr. Kazziha from Cardiovascular Consultants, and Brittani Staley from the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority join me on the set.  Of course, I always feel better when the good doctor is nearby.

It was a great experience, although it was only a few minutes in length.  Perhaps in the near future, we will be highlighted in a segment that provides more insight into our organization, what we do, and our plans for our walk across America.  Until then, check out our website at http://www.walkforthebeat.org.

Chuck

fox-2-feb-4

Current Reality

Depression, anxiety, and a feeling of hopelessness affects a lot of people.  Many people are fighting these feelings, and they can be caused a host of different things.  The loss of a loved one, the lost of a job or even a change in jobs, financial problems, retirement, and poor health are some of the things that can lead to depression.

When someone has anxiety or depression, all the logic in the world may not be enough to bring them out of it.  One thing that occurs is that in their mind, whatever current reality the person is dealing with, seems like a permanent reality.  But is it?

One example is that many people obsess over losing a job.  Sure it is important to make a living and be able to put a roof over your head and food on the table.  However, does it mean you are going to be unemployed forever?  Many people didn’t even like their job, but are now upset they don’t have it, and the feeling of hopelessness creeps in.  Just remember, this isn’t necessarily your permanent reality.  You have the ability to bounce back and potentially bounce back better than you were before.

This holds true for many of the causes of depression and anxiety.  People feel their current reality is one that will last forever.  In the vast majority of cases, it won’t, however that piece of logic often doesn’t resonate with a depressed person.  That is where the professionals come in, along with patience, understanding, and love.

These feelings are real and they can be debilitating.  These feelings are stressful and of course that has consequences on your heart health.  Educating ourselves in this area is important, both for the people who have these types of feelings, and their loved ones.

 

Stress and politics, it is really a matter of your heart!

 

I try to avoid politics in my writing, and I believe that although politics is mentioned, the main message in the blog is not political at all, it is truly about heart health.  Heart health is my mission.  It is what our organization is working for, that is fewer heart disease related occurrences.  It is believed that 80% of heart disease related occurrences can be prevented.  80%, that is an amazing statistic.  When I read that, I realized that what we are working towards is achievable.  We can make a difference.

 

One of the causes of heart disease is stress.  Stress can adversely affect your body, specifically, the toll it can take on your heart.  In the big picture, what has been more stressful lately than the recent presidential election and subsequent inauguration?  Two sides bitterly opposing the other.  The Facebook arguments, what the media chooses to highlight, the non-peaceful protests, the fake news, the strong opinions, and the spin and twisted truth, it is surrounding us, maybe even consuming some.

 

I’ll have to admit, I didn’t sleep all that well the night of the inauguration.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t so much about who is now our President, although it does bring some trepidation, it would have no matter who was elected,  I was restless because of concern for what we as a society have become.  We have become a society of know-it-alls, and that is scary.  What this means to me, is that very few people are truly objective and willing to have open minded discussions before forming an opinion.  We have become intolerant to people with opinions that don’t mesh with our own.  That is dangerous for many reasons, including a lack of growth as a person and how we interact with others.  Of course, not everyone falls in this category, but it is prevalent in today’s society.  How did this happen?

 

I have my theory, and of course I am going to share it, otherwise what’s the point of writing this blog.  LOL.  Let’s do it like this, let’s imagine these two candidates in 1950, or 1930, or 1830 for that matter.  What would we know about them?  We would know their accomplishments, what they tell us, what we heard with our own ears, or read about in a single newspaper, a newspaper that most likely reported factual information (what a novelty).  We may not have all the information about the candidates, but what we would have known is most likely credible.  At the very least, it would have been based on our own rational thoughts and feelings.

 

Today we are bombarded with the opinions of others, factual or not; blog posts factual or not; media reports (many of which have a biased spin); memes (most of which are contrived, are biased, or filled with lies); and publications, many of which have an ulterior motive.  We are supposed to sift through it all to know what to believe.  I say it is impossible. 

Just as an example, there was a video on Facebook of Bill Clinton at the inauguration looking off into the distance.  You have probably seen it.  Hillary looks at Bill, with a funny look on her face, Bill catches her glance and then proceeds to look back in the original direction.  Hillary looks to be a bit put off by it all.  The caption represents it as Hillary catches Bill staring at Melania Trump, insinuating that he can’t keep his eyes off good looking women.  Nowhere in the short video is Ms. Trump.  Nowhere is there proof that Bill was looking at Melania and not something else.  What I found interesting were the comments.  People bought it hook line and sinker.  That’s what scary, because they are basing their opinions on information that may not be credible.   

 

To reduce stress in your lives, I think it is important to know that most information available to us, needs to be fact checked and read with a bit of skepticism.  In other words, we need to remain open minded and know that what we are reading is probably not 100% factual.  Know that you most likely aren’t a political expert, and most likely don’t know all the facts.  I will give one more example, I questioned the US giving Iran $150,000,000,000 (that’s a lot of zeros).  I have an opinion on it, but really, what do I know?  Was I involved in every sit-down discussion with the Iranian leaders?  No.   Was I in the internal US strategy meetings to discuss how to handle the situation?  No.  Do I have all the information I need to form an educated opinion?  I doubt it, and guess what, our leadership isn’t going to give us all the information in every situation, often times in order to protect us. 

Why then get all worked up over it, and argue with someone who may know less than me about a subject, should they have a different opinion than mine.  That type of rationale, recognizing that we are not experts in every matter, is becoming rare in our society and it needs to change fast.  I’m not saying you cannot have an opinion, it is ok to have an opinion, just keep an open mind that the reasons you believe in a certain thing, may have been based on flawed information for no particular fault of your own.

 

I for one, am going to take a deep breath, do my homework, try to forge my opinions (political and otherwise) out of knowledge and facts (notice I said try), and not engage with others if they happen to have an opposing opinion, unless, and here is the key, unless they are as willing as I am to admit that we are not experts in the matter, and willing to be open minded.  Less stress will result, and less stress is better for the heart.

 

Thanks for reading, and I hope our society can someday see the light.

 

Chuck Woolaver

 

It Starts with the Heart!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fitness, stick to it

I’ve done a lot of exercising in my 55 years.  Some was well thought out and planned, and other times, well, not so much.  The first step everyone should complete, before a dumbbell is picked up, or the tread mill is stepped upon, is to have a goal.

What is it that you want to achieve?  Do you want to lose weight?  Do you want to pack on muscle?  Do you want to firm up those abs and that back side?  There can be quite a few goals when it comes to exercise.  Now that I am 55 and still fighting coronary artery disease, my objectives have changed.  At one time in my life I wanted to build muscle.  This meant a regimen of lifting heavier weights.  The amount of sets and number of reps in those sets, along with the rest in between was designed for muscle-building.  That is a completely different program than what would be designed for someone looking to lose weight, or simply “tone” their body for golf or other similar sports.

There are many variables that go into exercising, and many different exercises.  They all lead to certain results.  So, you decide you want to get in shape, which is the first step, and before you step one foot into the gym, think about what it is you want to accomplish.  It is at that point you can construct a workout plan that helps meet your objectives.  Your choice will be to do it on your own, or get help from a personal trainer.  With the complexity involved in exercising, the latter is recommended.

I will finish with this, moving is better than sitting still.  For those wanting to lose weight, it is simple, burn more calories than you consume.  Understand this, most people start a program and somewhere along the way, stop.  Heck, many New Year’s resolutions are probably already broken.  Secondly, fitness planning is a very complex subject for the average person.  I always recommend to get help.  After learning what I now know about fitness training, I realize that I made some major mistakes in the past when it comes to working out.  Those mistakes led to injury and loss of motivation.  That is what you want to avoid.  You want a sustainable plan, where you can see positive results, and a plan that avoids injury and leads to long term success.

So best of luck in reaching your fitness goals in 2017.  If you need help, give me a shout.

Chuck

 

 

 

 

 

Eating Healthy

How much does eating right mean to your cardiovascular health?  Well according to many experts, it means a lot.  Everything you put into your body does something.  It either provides nutrients that are used as fuel, provides value in terms of health, or is detrimental to your health if it contains the wrong ingredients.

A fast food hamburger does have some nutrients.  There is protein of course, which is an essential component for muscle health.  However, it comes at a cost.  There is also a fair amount of fat in hamburger, and of course these days it is all about grass-fed beef and free range chicken.  What we eat, eats, is important too, as we are learning. Hormones, chemicals, insecticides are all ingested by the animals that we call food.

We like to say “eat clean”.  That means monitoring the fats, sugars, and carbohydrates.  Making sure the food you are eating is pure from the bad things mentioned in the last paragraph.  It takes time and education to know how to read a product label, but it is very important.  Know what you are putting into your mouth and understand how it fuels your body and what nutrients it provides.

Drink plenty of water.  If you are an active male, it is recommended to drink 125 ounces of water a day.  An active female should drink 91 ounces a day.  That seems like a lot, and it is, so start early.  Drink a large glass of water when you first get up in the morning.  Your body is in dehydration mode after going 8 hours without water.

In terms of being heart smart, moderation and portion size are important, maybe as important as what you are eating.  There is so much more that we can discuss.  You can get more specific information relative to your own personal goals from Mike Doehla at StrongerUFit.com.  He does nutrition counselling and is highly recommended.

Personally, I try to make sure that I get 2-3 servings of fresh fruit each day (blueberries are my favorite), 2-3 servings of fresh vegetables each day, a serving or two of nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans), and then make sure I eat lean protein every day.  When I eat breads or pasta I make sure it is whole grain (there is an old saying, the whiter the bread the quicker you’re dead), and try to steer clear of simple carbs (table sugar, candy, etc).

Complex carbohydrates come from plant-based foods, and we know that those foods also contain a plethora of beneficial nutrients in addition to their carbs, including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Carbs in general, are important in providing fuel for your body (energy) in the form of calories.   Calories are simply a unit of energy.

Protein can also be a fuel source after carbs are depleted (thus the need for carbs).  However, protein plays a more important role in that it builds and repairs muscle and tissue, promotes immune health by forming antibodies and white blood cells, creates hormones and enzymes and manufactures red blood cells. In addition, it contributes to the structure of your organs, skeleton, skin, hair and nails.

The general rule of thumb, especially for an active person is to 45-65% of their total calories from carbs (primarily complex carbs), 10-35% from protein, and 20-35% from fats.  Fats are not all bad and some actually are quite beneficial.  There has been a lot of back and forth on whether or not fats are the main culprit regarding heart disease.  Recent studies suggest that they are not, however I am still a bit of a skeptic, and am mindful of the types of fats I ingest.  Without getting to deep into the subject, the fact is that some fats raise your cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease, while others lower cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease, and provide other health benefits. The good fats are typically the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and are high in omega-3.  They can be found in salmon, nuts, olive oil, avocados, and my favorite, natural peanut butter.

There is a lot to know about nutrition in order to eat healthy.  Some people think they are eating healthy but really aren’t for many different reasons.  My recommendation is to eat natural foods.  Those are foods that don’t typically come in a box, can, or package of some type.  Organic is important and meats that are minimally processed where the animals were fed properly makes a huge difference.

Eat a balanced diet including some of the foods mentioned above, and if you really want to get serious, do your research or contact Mike at StrongerUFit.

Chuck