Walking Across America

When planning to walk across America, my first objective was to do some research.  You know, talk to people about how they…wait, what?  You know, pick the brains of those that, uh, oops, where are those people?  Do they exist?  Yeah, it isn’t something that you can really research, at least from a living first hand perspective.

So, back to the drawing board.  What is it going to take to plan to walk across America.  I guess at this point I can only assume.  I have no idea what kind of toll it will take on my body, specifically my legs, ankles, knees, and feet.  I mean, I’m not 25 years old anymore.  Heck, I am not even 35, or 45.  I am 55, and will be walking on freshly stented legs.  Will they hold up?  Will I get blisters on my feet?  What will the terrain be like?  How about the inclines?  Will it be like my treadmill?  So many questions, so few answers?

I’ve determined that I have to plan for just about everything.  Exhausting heat, frigid cold, unbearable inclines, heck, even animals and bugs that you really don’t want to have to deal with.  I will have my trusty back pack and a wife who has the knack of preparing for things (although this one might be a bit different, just saying).

Here is what I came up with, it is February 20th and the walk starts in seven months and eight days.  From a training perspective, I am in first gear and I need to push it into second gear quick.  I need to get some real street miles in, 10-15 per day.  I need to push the core stability training up a notch, and I need a fantastic nutrition plan to not only maintain my already low weight, but increase it a few pounds even during the intensive training.  All of this for 6 months of 20 miles a day in heat, cold, wind, and hills.

Can it be done?  It has to.  This is more than a challenge, it is a calling, and I have committed to it like nothing I have committed to in my life.  It is not for me, or even about me.  It is for the many people that this walk could potentially inspire to help them make a change in their lives, and to get them to treat their bodies and hearts properly, so that the body and heart responds in kind.  It is about changing a culture.  It can be done!chuck-north-berwick-law

Is It Really Fitness?

I read an article today with fitness in the title.  In a nutshell, it stated that you didn’t need to go to the gym to lose weight.  Ok, that is probably true, but my question is, without exercise, are you really getting fit?

For some, losing weight can be a great goal.  You feel better, look better, fit in some of your old favorite clothes better, and above all, it should improve your health, or at least a couple of your risk factors.

Being fit however, isn’t just about being thin (or thinner than you were).  Muscle volume and muscle quality is also important.  Strength, combined with range of motion is key to performing daily activities, and avoiding injury.

The older we get, especially the 50+ crowd, the more muscle mass we lose.  It is a scientific fact.  With less muscle, we have less power and strength, and I’m not talking about the power or strength (two different things by the way) it takes to throw a 16 pound shot put.  I’m referring to the ability to get in and out of a car, vacuum a house, paint a room, load and put away groceries.  These tasks, and many more, all take a coordinated effort, to a varying degree, to perform.  If our muscles have deteriorated, are not regularly used, and the range of motion has all but vanished, there is a greater risk of injury.  Elderly people who have poor muscle tone and injure themselves, either don’t recover very easily or quickly, or don’t recover at all.  Most of us have seen that with loved ones.

So, when thinking about losing weight, I encourage you to consider a fitness regimen that includes improving stability (core work), strength, power, and flexibility.  If you do, you will truly be…FIT.  Of course, prior to starting any new exercise program it is recommended to check with your doctor.

Chuck

It 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.

 

How’s that fitness resolution working for you?

It’s January 26th and many New Year’s Day fitness resolutions are already shot.  Why is that?  I’ve done it, you]ve probably done it, we’ve all done it.  It’s easy to quit a fitness program, but why do we let it happen, sometimes, over and over again?

I have some thoughts on that subject.  As with anything, there are many reasons why.  Let’s go over a few and see if they fit:

  1. The place where you exercise is not convenient.  It’s too far from home, or too far from work, or it is too crowded.  Sound familiar?
  2. You are too sore from the first time you hit the gym.  Been there, did that.
  3. You injured yourself, working out too hard or incorrectly.  I did that too.
  4. Your exercise program didn’t fit your goals.  In other words, you want to lose weight but are lifting heavy weights in a manner that builds large muscles.
  5. Lastly, I’m too busy and tired to exercise.  Very common.

The good news is that all of these challenges can be overcome.  First and foremost, figure out what you want out of exercising.  What is important to you?  Most people forget that it is important to your overall health, both physical and mental.  Keep that in mind and make it a top priority.  Then determine what you want to achieve.  Weight loss, a toner body, lose the muffin top, prepare for a particular sport, increase muscle mass, etc.  Just remember, in a world of instant gratification, results from exercise can take time.  It is a marathon, not a sprint.

The next step is developing a plan that will help you achieve your goal.  That is where an instructor can come in handy.  A good plan will build on itself.  You will start slow and work on core endurance first, and then go from there.  Each phase will last about 4 weeks.  This can help eliminate the old, I’m too sore excuse typically experienced in the first week, and lower the risk of injury.

Now that you have your new plan, determine when and where you can exercise.  Maybe some of the exercises can be done in your own home, removing the inconvenience of going to the gym.  Many exercises that can provide various benefits do not require weights or machines.  They are posture bearing or cardiovascular based exercises.  Determine a schedule and mark it on your calendar.  Treat this calendar item the same as you would an important business meeting.  In other words, don’t miss it.  Having a workout partner can also help.  It makes it more fun and each person can put a little pressure on the other not to back out or miss a session.

You definately want to keep your workouts interesting and challenging.  You can do this by using different pieces of equipment for an exercise.  For example, you might use a kettlebell for a specific exercise for a couple of weeks, then change it up to dumbbells.  Keep increasing the intensity of your exercises every few weeks.  That not only challenges you, but it pushes you through plateaus to where you will see improved results.  It is also popular to add music or TV to your routine when possible.

There are tips and tricks to help ensure that you stick to your workout routine.  But when the rubber meets the road, you have to want it.  You should want it, after all, it will most likely lead to improved health. Most importantly, as with anything in life, you have to be disciplined.  Now get your butt to the gym!

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything is Temporary

Remember the movie Top Gun?  Sure you do, everyone has seen it.  There is a scene where Cougar turns in his wings after losing his nerve following an air battle with a Russian Mig.  His reason, he was holding on too tight.  Holding on too tight to his wife and the new-born baby that he hasn’t seen yet.  He lost his edge.

I started thinking, I know, that is dangerous.  The question arose, as to whether we lose our edge in our daily lives over things far less important than our spouse and child.  Naturally, a second question then arose, as to whether or not we place too much value on these “things”.   Lastly, I had to ask myself why that happens.

In pondering these questions I realized that I have been guilty of sweating the small stuff in life, and in turn thinking that many trivial things are of vital importance.  Don’t put your feet on the coffee table, it might get scratched or dirty.  Make the bed a certain way so it looks nice.  Nice for who?  Who in the heck is going to see my bed except me?  My wife and dog?  Do they really care?  Why is it so important?  Things like that. Silly, isn’t it?

Continuing to think through this line of questioning, it dawned on me that everything is temporary.  In 4 billion years or so, the earth itself will be gone, dust, actually, not even dust.  Our lives, for that matter, are temporary.  Thinking about these two things put a different light on “things”.  What I mean is that just about everything else really isn’t that important.  We place values or importance levels on “things”.  Sure, there are important items in our lives.  We need to be prudent about paying our bills, eating right to maintain good health, etc., but, in regards to many other things, are we holding on too tight?  Is it stressing us out or stressing out relationships with others?

Thinking about the fate of ourselves, and the earth, I found a new perspective on most other “things”.   My maker, my family, my friends, my health, not necessarily in that order, are what I hold dear.  Everything else, they are just “things”, and I am learning to manage them accordingly.  I’m finding less stress in that, which is really good for the heart!