50 Miles In

Desert

As we are progressing through our walk across America, I’m finding that there are just some things you really couldn’t have planned for.  You may have thought about it, researched it, but until you are out there and experiencing it, you really can’t know how to handle certain variables that spring up from day-to-day.  That must be why the Marines coined the phrase, “improvise, adapt, overcome”.

Some examples of this are the topography (rugged terrain, hard to simulate in Michigan), heat, exhaustion, foot pain (didn’t happen until this week), oh and the bugs.  Kate mentioned that we learned a lot about the RV since we left, and I agree.  Little things like trying to prevent ants from entering our home.  Yep, we got them in Oceanside.  The little guys must have thought they would get a good meal in our RV and formed a line to get in.  It led from a nearby shrub bed to one of the leveling jacks that was deployed and touching the ground.  Marching in single file, they entered one at a time.  By the time we noticed, there had to be hundreds of them in the RV.  We did our research, found out how to keep them out, and more importantly, how to exterminate the unwanted guests once they are in.  Lesson learned.

As we proceed inland and the days go by, we feel like we are making progress.  It is slower than expected, but again, we are facing some new challenges that were somewhat anticipated, but not 100% accounted for.  Because of that, we are not yet getting our estimated 20 miles in per day.  We hope to be getting in that daily mileage once the terrain levels out and the heat dissipates, which should be this week.  The good thing is that we are not on a specific timeline, however, from a cost standpoint, we cannot drag on this project for too long for obvious reasons.  Budgets are budgets after all.

We are finding some real cool items that have been lost or discarded on the sides of roads.  Some are commonplace, some are very bizarre.  We have decided to save these items, well at least the ones that are safe to touch, and by the time we are finished, we should be able to start a roadside museum of lost stuff.  Here is a partial list of what we have found so far:

  • A single die as in dice
  • A domino
  • Men’s underwear (designer brand)
  • A shoe and a flip-flop (not that uncommon, but we only found one of each)
  • Scissors
  • Half of a spoon
  • Men’s shorts (must be the same guy who lost his underwear)
  • A 1990’s computer monitor
  • A used diaper
  • A military ID
  • Someone’s debit card

Additionally, we found a few dimes along the way, which is a story in and of itself that I will share at a later date.

We are currently staying in Desert Hot Springs (aptly named as it is in the desert, is freaking hot, and there are mineral springs here), and plan to move our camp in a few days towards Blythe, CA, and the Arizona border.  It should take a few weeks to get to the border and I will be a happy man, for various reasons, once they reach that point.

Thanks for reading this update and following along.  We are just getting started and there is much more to come.

Peace and love to all!

Chuck

Pre-Walk Travel Update #2

Toroweap Point

We made our way to the Grand Canyon and are enjoying the trip out to Oceanside, our starting point for The Walk.  Quite a way to travel and we have seen and done a lot in just a few days.  However, as the day draws near to start the walk to combat heart disease, there is still so much to do.

But first, lets list out what I have learned since the last update:

  • It can get cold in Arizona ~ 22 degrees overnight ~ this is not good for water pipes in an RV if you’re not prepared
  • The Painted Desert in Arizona goes on forever, or at least it seems that way
  • Route 66 is just how you would imagine ~ old little towns with a couple, like Williams, Arizona worth checking out.  The rest of the towns are sleepy at best
  • My wife learned how to use voice command on Google, so now she doesn’t have to talk to me while I’m driving, although I still feel like the Shell Answer Man
  • The terrain is far more ominous than I ever thought, oh boy, that might suck a bit when the walk starts
  • Michigan roads are hands down the worst
  • I miss my dog

So what’s in store for the next few days.  We made it to California, just inside the border, to a town called Blythe.  Our campsite is right on the Colorado River, pretty cool.  We are preparing to depart for our final westardly desitnation, Oceanside, CA.  Hopefully, we will by there by 5 PM this afternoon.  The driving gets a little more difficult when you are attempting to move 20,000 lbs up steep inclines, but we are managing.  Todays ride will be up and down until we get closer to the ocean.

Once we are in Oceanside, I will try to get in some serious workouts before the 1st.  Driving for 6-8 hours a day takes its toll and leaves little time to get in the miles necessary to prepare for the walk.  Additionally, we have a bit of promoting to do to let folks in Oceanside know what we are doing.  It’s a labor of love.  Most important, we will be able to see my sisters, brother-in-law, niece, nephew, a couple of cool pets, and some great friends.

Our brother-in-law John will be leaving on the 2nd to head back home, and we will be hooking up with my friend Daniel who has committed to walk with me for a bit.  Maybe up to 3 months.  He is an awesome guy and very resourceful.  I will share more about Daniel on another blog.  Other than companionship during the walk, it is probably good to have a second person along for security, and he fits the bill rather well.

Stay tuned for more updates and pictures on Facebook.  We will be attempting to share as much of this beautiful country with you as possible (once I figure out this Instagram thing), since we will be seeing it up close and personal (hopefully not too up close when it comes to rattle snakes and scorpions).

Ways you can follow along:

One last thing.  In order for us to fight heart disease, we need financial support.  Our focus is currently on childhood obesity, through our partnership with Playworks. Childhood obesity is a significant problem in this country.  The childhood obesity rate in 1980 was 3%.  Today it is nearing 34%.  That will only create more heart related problems, as well as other health issues, as our children and grandchildren age.  Please consider donating on our website at http://www.walkforthebeat.org.  Click on the donate button and follow the prompts.  Every dollar helps.

Thank you and love to all!

 

 

Making Our Way To California

Memphis

We made it to Alma, Arkansas.  Yep, the fine town of Alma.  For those that are geographically challenged, Arkansas fills the gap between Memphis and Oklahoma.  Other than that, I’m not sure why else it is there.

I did find the people in Arkansas to be very nice.  The RV park works on the honor system.  Get there after hours, spend the night, use their water and electric, then if you leave before they open, just leave the money in an envelope.  Try that in Michigan.

Anyways, other than almost taking out power to a church in Nashville, and going the wrong way down a road that never ends, or that has enough room to turn around a 35′ RV, the travel has been fine.  I did want to share some things I learned since we left Michigan on Sunday (seems like a month ago):

  • It’s freaking hot down here in the south
  • Elvis is still and always will be the “The King”
  • My brother-in-law needs to learn what good BBQ is
  • My wife is amazing for putting up with me
  • And…you can make friends anywhere you go, especially four-legged ones…if you have food

The Graceland tour has been the highlight for me thus far.  So much to see.  They built a new facility across the street from Graceland that houses all The King’s artifacts, cars, planes, awards, etc.  Elvis passed away at 42, so it is amazing how much he accomplished in his short life.

One quick note, we got four minutes of airtime on Elvis Radio, courtesy of Argo, one of the DJ’s at the station.  Do they still call them DJ’s?  We talked about why we are doing what we are doing, and what we are trying to accomplish at Walk For The Beat.  They were more than gracious, and we appreciated the opportunity.  Hats off to our friends at Elvis Radio (SiriusXM 19…tune in).

Our next stop is Elk City, Oklahoma.  We will be passing through Oklahoma City on our way there with a quick stop at the 45th infantry division museum.  It’s a WWII thing.  Bill Mauldin was in that division and was a famous WWII cartoonist.

After that, one more stop, then two days at the Grand Canyon (bucket list item for sure, just as Graceland was for me).  One more overnight just inside California, then we will arrive at our destination in Oceanside, California on the 27th, and begin the walk on October 1st with Brother-In-Law John, and good friend Daniel Yowell.

I will post pictures of the Grand Canyon, and give further updates upon arriving in Oceanside.  Until then, carry on and be good to your heart.

 

Walking

 

 

nature-walk

You’ve hear it a million times.  Heck, probably close to million from me alone.  Walking is good for you.

People know the benefits of walking, however many still don’t take time to do it on a daily basis and get by walking just enough to perform their daily tasks.  What I want to shed light on are the ways walking can benefit you.  Here are some examples:

  • It’s considered exercise.  Your body was meant to move.  Sitting, standing in one place, driving in a car for extended periods of time is considered the new smoking from a health standpoint.  Walking exercises approximately 20 muscles, and if you push your pace to about 4 mph, you will elevate your heartbeat and get in some much-needed cardio work.
  • Walking keeps the blood moving.  Your arteries are like the plumbing in your house.  Blood need to move, that’s why your heart works so hard.  It brings oxygen to the muscles.
  • Walking strengthens your legs, lower back, and your core muscles.  This helps prevent injuries like strains when we do something out of the norm like moving furniture, or that end of the year yard work.
  • Lastly, and most overlooked, walking helps your mental state.  I went for a two-mile walk this morning.  The last few days have been a little stressful, with planning to leave for our trip on Sunday and getting all the loose ends tied up.  I noticed that during the walk, some of that stress vanished.  I was noticing the squirrels, the trees, the green grass, and all of the great things nature has to offer.  What a great way to reduce stress (a major heart disease culprit).

Even if you don’t plan on starting a full-fledged workout program, you can always find time for a walk.  Grab a good pair of shoes, a friend, and maybe even your dog, and go. Thirty minutes of walk time will go by a flash, and you will be doing your heart justice. You might even meet a few nice people along the way.

Enjoy, here is to your good health!

 

What Changed?

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Most days I am asked a question or two about heart disease, the planned walk across America, or just life in general.  The other day, I was asked a question that seems common and natural, however, I had never been asked that question before.

This question made me stop and think for a moment.  The answers, and there are many, are well-known in my mind, I just never had to format and communicate them in order to make sense of it all.  I will attempt to do that here, as my mind can be a jumbled mess at times.

First, the question.  It was, “what has changed for you since being diagnosed with heart disease?”  See, I told you it was a logical question.  Well, here is the answer…EVERYTHING.

Ok, I can be a little more specific, and try to focus on the root of things.  After all, everything from my job to my house to my future has changed.

The first thing that was impacted was my overall outlook.  I am still working on quite a few of those details, however, priorities have changed.  What may have seemed to be important before, like work, my golf scores, so many other details in life, still have importance to some degree, but they have been moved down the list.  The golf scores priority has moved near the bottom, as has my desire to play the game.

Let’s stay on the subject of golf for a moment.  It has been a passion of mine for nearly 50 years.  Some would say I have become an accomplished player, winning my high school tournament, playing in college, and competing in local events.  I even went as far as attempting to qualify for the US Senior Open when I turned 50.  I liked to play, and when I played well, it brought great satisfaction.

However, when you come to grips with your own mortality, as a friend once put it, it makes you realize that some things aren’t as important as you once believed.  Now a days, whether I shoot a 68 or the dreaded double snowman 88, I don’t get too excited, or get too upset.  After all, it is just a game.

I think that describes it pretty well.  The priorities have become family, purpose, and being a better person to all I come in contact with.  As I said, I am working on some details, but overall, that tops the list.

With that said, family is the biggest part of being a better person.  Being engaged in conversations, being present, being there if someone has a need or a problem are all ways to be a better person, and who better to do that for than family?

From a work perspective, money is no longer the major driving force, as it has been in the past.  Thinking that way may have led to some of my issues.  I was employed in a high stress job for years, and certainly it took its toll.

Today, I do the things that I like to do, with people I like to work with (not that some of that didn’t exist throughout my career, but perhaps I now look at those relationships in a different manner).  I look forward to going into the office and doing what I can to contribute.  In the old days it was a grind, with the constant pressure (and reminders) of the monthly quota that would hang over my head as a member of a sales team.

Enjoyment/satisfaction is another area that I could say has changed.  I now take the time to realize something cool is happening around me, or a scene like a beautiful cloud in the sky (nature’s miracles).  I have a better sense of appreciation for things like that.  This probably has slowed my mind down a bit as well, which is also calming.

Overall, it is all perspective.  That is what changed.  I looked at myself at age 55 and wondered what I have accomplished on this earth, and what more I could do, knowing now, that you never know which day will be your last.  I think of the people I love, and in turn, I try to do the things that would make them happy.  Heck, I even smile at complete strangers whenever walking through a store.  I remember a line Dolly Parton once said, “if you see someone without a smile, give them your’s”.

All of these things are a work in progress, but the foundation has been set.  I’d like to think I was a good person before all of this happened, but as with most, if not all people, there is always room for improvement.  I now work everyday to be a better person for all of those that I come in contact with.  If we all did that, what a wonderful world this would be!

 

 

Why Should We Exercise

plank

We have attempted to tackle the reason why people either don’t start exercising, or they start and somewhere along the way, stop.  I have spoken to quite a few people who, for one reason or another, do not want to go to a gym to workout, and they do not have workout equipment at home.

Neither of those (we will call them excuses for now) should prevent you from exercising. There are so many exercises you can do in a 30 – 45 minute workout routine (3-4 times a week), that can get you in pretty good shape, without the aid of a gym or expensive exercise equipment.

The first step to any exercise program is to get clearance from your doctor.  Our audience is typically the over 40 crowd, and as we are well aware, the older you get, the more health risks there are.  So, it is always a good idea to make sure you are healthy enough to start an exercise routine.

The second step is to set a goal.  What do you want to accomplish?  Do you want bigger muscles?  Do you want a thinner waistline?  Are you preparing for an athletic competition or event?  Your goal will determine what type of exercises you should be doing and how you should perform those exercises.

For simplicity sake, let’s assume you want to lose some weight, firm up some body parts that for whatever reason (gravity), have begun to sag a bit, and get in overall better health.  All good reasons.

Here is a partial list of some really good exercises you can perform, without weights, kettle bells, dumbbells, bands, machines, etc.:

  • Air squats – one of the best all around exercises
  • Planks
  • Side planks
  • Lunges
  • Floor bridge
  • Push ups
  • Walking/running
  • Balance drills
  • Yoga poses

Weight bearing postures can actually build muscle, which is important to anyone over 40, as we lose a certain percentage of muscle tone each year.  You could add some dumbbell exercises to your routine to assist in strengthening certain muscles.  All it takes is a couple of 5 or 10 pound dumbbells to get started.  Heck, you could even start with a jug of laundry detergent, anything to add resistance.  It is funny, but since we sold our house, I don’t have any exercise equipment in my new living space.  I used a jug of detergent the other day to do shoulder raises.  It weighs about 8 pounds and did the trick. You can get creative here, but make sure the weight is correct (not too heavy for a particular exercise to where you may injure yourself), and it allows for the proper form (also to prevent injury).

Once a good routine is designed, make time in your schedule to exercise.  Put these times in your calendar and treat them like an important business meeting.  In other words, set a high priority to exercising and try not to miss a session.  Once that first session is skipped, it is easy to blow off others and before you know it, you are back to being a couch potato…don’t miss!

You can find information online about the exercises I mentioned above, or you could seek the help of a Certified Personal Trainer to get started.  Blend in some weight resistance as I mentioned above (push ups, air squats, both of which are body weight resistance), or dumbbell work such as shoulder presses, bicep curls, and bench press exercises.  Include core work to strengthen the all important stomach and back muscles. These include the plank, side plank, air squats, and floor bridge exercises mentioned above.  And don’t forget to elevate your heart rate with some cardio work (walking, running, jumping jacks, bike riding).

Once you get the routine down, you can add resistance as you get stronger.  This will continue your improvement and build your strength and endurance, which in turn will reduce the chances of injury performing daily tasks, tone up your muscles, and most likely reduce that waistline.

Give it a try and good luck.  Remember, we want fitness for a lifetime, not just until that big event that we want to look good for.

Bust Through The Status Quo

Lady Running

We have written articles about exercise over the past handful of months, and many people have commented that the information made a lot of sense.  After further checking, we also have found that many people still have not changed their habits.  That is, their habit of remaining sedentary.

Nobody disputes that exercise and physical activity benefits the human body, and that a sedentary lifestyle does the opposite.  So why is it that people just can seem to move from the status quo, TV watching, relaxing lifestyle that they may have become accustomed to?

The majority of people diet and exercise to look better.  I have always felt that was the wrong reason.  Sure, we all want to look our best, but really, what is more important than your health, and why is it that improving or maintaining your health is way down there on the priority scale?

Here is some information to try on for size:

40% of Americans say they perform no leisure time physical activity at all.

We also know that 1 our of 3 children in America are obese.  There is a strong link between TV watching and obesity.

Researchers estimated that physical inactivity accounts for 6% of the burden of heart disease, 7% of type 2 diabetes, 10% of breast cancer, and 10% of colon cancer. Inactivity also causes 9% of premature mortality.

There is a correlation between sitting and the chance of dying early.

Think about that for a minute.  Dying early?  Holy cow, how much more severe can you get than that, and yet people still love the couch potato lifestyle.

What’s it going to take to get you moving?  I have some ideas…

  1. Get a dog.  They love to walk and you will be busy following after them.
  2. Find an outdoor hobby.  Hiking, kayaking, biking, golfing (without a cart).
  3. Join a group that does any of the above.  Socializing helps.
  4. Put these activities into your calendar.  Scheduling them works.
  5. Be logical.  Prioritize your health over most everything else.

Number 5 makes so much sense.  After all, what is there if you don’t have your health?  Here is to your health and breaking the status quo.  You will love your new lifestyle and guess what, you may fit into those jeans a little better as well.

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

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