A day at the beach 

  • I am incredibly lucky to live a few blocks from the chesapeake Bay. My proximity allows me to workout on the beach regularly. I use my golf cart to help me lug my equipment so I can get a full body workout in the best gym in the world. Here’s one of my typical days at the beach. It consisted of  a HIIT style workout with five different movements: 30′ sandbag pull with chain, kettlebell snatch, slosh pipe run, tire strike, kettlebell swing. I did six rounds of these movements while trying to maintain my form. I don’t time my workouts anymore because I want to make sure I don’t sacrifice form for speed.  Since the sand on the beach makes for an inherently unstable environment, this type of workout on the beach is great for the core. 

Beach Bootcamp


Sylvan Beach Gym
My “Home Gym”

I work out at the beach on a regular basis.  It’s my happy place.  Over the years I’ve added quite a few toys to my arsenal of workout equipment.  I like to keep it a little rustic, so I’ve made a few of my own pieces of equipment just for the fun of it.  Plus, the sand and the salt water can take a toll on stuff, so I don’t like to spend a lot of money on equipment that’s going to get used hard and put to bed wet (sometimes literally).   I’m always experimenting with new ways to tax my system and have fun while doing it.  I’ve got my system down, so it only takes me a few minutes to load my gear onto my golf cart and get down to the beach.

Besides the wonderful view, there are a few advantages to working out at the beach.  First, beach sand is an unstable surface, so it is a fantastic venue for neuromuscular stability training.  Your body has to pay attention to form in everything you do to stay balanced, which is the best thing you can do to maintain a solid core.   It’s a relatively soft surface, so you won’t be jarring your joints too much when jumping or bounding or doing any other impact type work. You don’t have to worry about dropping equipment or getting anything dirty, and there’s no cleanup when you’re done.  Best of all, when it’s hot outside, you can just run in the water to cool off.

People often stop and asking me what I’m training for, and my usual reply is “Life”.  The type of workouts I do, especially my beach workouts, are geared to keep me in shape to perform the everyday tasks of life.  I still go to the weight room and push some iron a few days a week, but two or three days a week I perform a high intensity interval training workout, focusing on functional body movements.  I try to create exercises that mimic the five primary movement patterns of the activities of daily life.  Those movement patterns are:

  1. Pulling movements
  2. Pushing movements
  3. Bend and Lift movements
  4. Single leg movements
  5. Rotational movements

Every workout I create for myself includes exercises that work all five movement patterns so that I can ensure my body is trained to keep all movement patterns at their peak.  I also make sure that the exercises I create are symmetrical so as not to create an imbalance on one side or the other.

The biggest thing I have learned over the years of doing these types of workouts is to not trade form for speed.  As fatigue sets in our body’s want to start compensating to make the movements easier.  If we don’t stay focused our bodies will start to compensate in our movement patterns as we get tired, which is unfortunately exactly what you don’t want to do.  Those compensations are what create create problems in the long term.  If we don’t stay focused during a hard, high volume, high intensity workout we may cause more harm than good in the long run.  I am probably over the top about this, but I emphasize form over speed with my clients while working out and during my boot camps.  It’s what is best for you in the long run.

The reason I’m talking about my home beach gym and the type of workouts I do there is that after many requests from people to work out with me on the beach, I have finally started a weekly Saturday morning boot camp on the beach.  I mix it up every week to keep it interesting.  I conduct an hour workout, which includes warmup period, a few minutes to practice some of the movements you may not be familiar with, a 20-30 minute high intensity interval workout, and a warm down period.  All in it’s about an hour workout, and it’s a great way to start your Saturday morning.  If you’re looking to have a fun beach workout, come out and join me the next time you have a free Saturday morning.

You’ve got the moves

First move well, then move often. This is the mantra of Gray Cook , the highly touted strength coach  and physical therapist,  and the basis of his Functional Movement Systems (FMS) training.  I wish I had been introduced to his FMS methodology a long time ago, it would havitruvian bodyve saved me much pain and rehab time. I think most of us take for granted the ability to be able to move relatively pain free, until we can’t.  As we get older we accept a bit of creaking and muscle stiffness as part of the process of aging (after all the alternative to aging is…death, and that’s no fun).  The problem is that as we age, our movement faults that we easily compensated for in our youth can become a real pain in the ass, literally in my case.

I work out pretty frequently, and at a fairly high intensity.  It’s been a long journey to get to my current level of fitness and it has taken countless hours of work.  The problem is that I progressed to moving often, with loads, and explosively, before I learned how to move well.  I didn’t create proper joint mobility before I created joint stability.  This caused some seriously flawed movement patterns for which my body instinctively learned to compensate. In time, as the intensity and loads increased, these faulty movement patterns and compensations could no longer handle the stress and broke down, creating joint impingements in the hips and shoulder, and scapular dyskinesis.

We all have movement pattern faults.  When moving, our body’s tend to take the path of least resistance.  Fortunately, these movement patterns are not permanent, and when assessed properly, there are mobility and exercise interventions that can help our joints regain their proper mobility, and strengthen our weaker areas so that we move well without compensating. Growing up playing sports, I learned that pain is temporary (and chick’s dig scars!), and that you always push through the pain and discomfort to complete the task.  Never give up, that’s my personal mantra. Not a bad mantra, but sometimes your body is talking to you with the pain, and you need to listen.  I thought I was taking action by going to Google University to learn about joint mobility and myofascial release, and I helped myself enough to lengthen the time in which it took to seek professional help.  But eventually, the joint impingements forced me to seek professional help, and it has been a long and educational road to recovery.  I’m not 100% yet, but I’m getting there.  I have climbed to the top of the mountain and seen the light, and now, with the help of Stephen from Direct Performance PT I am learning how to move well.  I am also working on my FMS certification.

When I was younger I took things like walking for granted.  I mean, how much is there to it, you put one foot in front of the other.  What’s there to learn?  It’s amazing howfunny0349 much youth can make up for ignorance.  Now that I am of a certain age I have learned to appreciate the simple things, like getting out of a chair or taking a walk pain free. I have a hip impingement because I never learned proper movement patterns, hell, I didn’t even know there were improper movement patterns until about a year ago when my pain started.  In early 2015 when I had been spending the winter in my quest to deadlift as much weight as I could.  I was doing a lot of heavy deadlifts and squats, paying attention to what I thought was proper form.  I started to do lots of weighted crunches and leg lifts in order to not create a muscular imbalance from the work I was doing on the back.  During that time I also kept up my 2-4 high intensity workouts per week, usually pushing, pulling or jumping while loaded with weight.  I maxed out my deadlift at 425, but this heavy back lifting with the high volume ab work set up a perfect storm for hip problems.  When the pain in my hip started I tapered off the heavier stuff, lowered the volume of my ab work, and did what any red blooded American male would do, I ignored the pain and pushed on.  It was getting to spring so I shifted from the weight room to outside workouts, doing more high intensity, high volume anaerobic, high impact structural, and metabolic work, which of course was the wrong answer since the impingements had been cause by my improper movement patterns.  Loading my improper movement patterns this way just exacerbated the problem.  I adjusted the workouts to try to stay away from movements that caused “excessive” pain, but everything caused some pain.  I just accepted the pain as the cost of doing business.  After several months of accepting the pain and getting used to walking with a limp, I finally went to see a chiropractor.  He helped increase my range of motion, and the pain subsided a bit, but it wasn’t until October that I went to see an orthopod to get an x-ray.  The x-ray confirmed I had calcification in the hip joint and some arthritis, but I did not need a new hip.  It was unclear what was causing the pain.  I received a cortisone shot in the hip, and the pain immediately went away, for a short period of time.  It was strange walking without a limp, I had to learn to walk upright again.  Unfortunately at the same time I was working through a shoulder impingement with physical therapist, so I figured I should concentrate on one screwed up joint at a time.  I have been seeing a physical therapist for my hip since March, and I am experiencing major improvement in my ability to move pain free.  More importantly, I am learning how to move properly so as to not create compensations.

So what’s the point of this sad tale.  The point is that I had always thought I moved rather well, and I always paid close attention to form when working out.  I thought I had proper movement patterns, what I didn’t know at the time was that I had no idea what proper movement patterns actually meant.  I am starting to get a clue.  PTs who are also strength and conditioning coaches, such as Gray Cook and Kelly Starrett, have opened my eyes to the wonders of learning proper movement patterns and what functional movement actually is.  I now spend a lot of time getting educated about and practicing movement patterns, and I am am a fanatic for teaching clients to move well before all else.

When starting an exercise program most folks don’t want to spend time learning how to move well, and most trainers either don’t know, or don’t want to take the time to assess and teach proper movement patterns.  I don’t blame the trainers, because generally, clients are so excited to “get in shape” that they just want to dive in and get exercising, and trainers don’t want to curb that enthusiasm by pulling them back and teaching them how to move well.  Unfortunately, its the wrong approach, especially for older clients, or clients who have been relatively sedentary for a long time. If the clients don’t have solid movement patterns they will eventually get hurt.  Usually it’s not serious, a muscle pull, and ankle twist, a sore shoulder or back, or for clients of a certain age, tendinitis or lingering soft tissue soreness at a joint.  Generally none of these injuries will cause permanent damage, but they usually take weeks if not months to fully heal, and they will derail the best of “getting back in shape” intentions.  It’s always hard to get started again after a program has been interrupted.  No one likes to have to start over, again, and again, and again.  This leads to feelings that “I can never get in shape”, or “exercise just doesn’t work for me” and can create a strong psychological barrier to adopting an active lifestyle. When it comes to exercise these people bounce back and forth between injury and recovery and can never seem to get off that ride.  It’s the roller coaster of the fitness industry, and I  am not a big fan of roller coasters.  There is a better and more sustainable way.  Obviously injuries aren’t the only things that derail a clients fitness program, but they are an extremely common one.

Just another day at my “gym”
I start the movement/exercise part of my program with movement assessments.  I learn what the clients movement patterns are, and if they have any movement faults that need to be corrected or strengthened before we start the real work of getting in shape.  Learning to move well is not what most people want to do when starting to work with a fitness professional, but it is what they need to do before they can progress to moving often, and eventually moving loaded and moving explosively.  This progression applies to everyone, age or gender doesn’t matter. In order to incorporate activity into your life over the long term, whether you are an aspiring athlete, a weekend warrior, or just an average Joe trying to stay in shape, you must have the ability to move well.  Once you can move well, the sky is the limit.

Spice up your life

I was recently asked if I’m still “eating healthy”, and when I answered yes, the questioner replied “I couldn’t stand to eat bland food like that all the time”.  I didn’t know how to answer.  Why does the perception still exist that healthy=bland.  Many years ago, when we knew much less about nutrition than we know today, the idea existed that healthy food was spice free, boiled and bland.  We also thought that there were honest politicians.  We now know neither of those things is true.


Anyone who has eaten my cooking knows my food is anything but bland.  I have a rather extensive spice rack, and I am always looking for new spices to try.  I also enjoy experimenting with different spice mixes.  Using spices is a great way to make healthy eating exciting, without adding unnecessary calories or preservatives. Spices can make cooked vegetables palatable for those who usually turn their noses up to vegetables. Last night I marinated skirt steak with my own Chorizo mix (recipe below) and some olive oil for a few hours before grilling and it came out incredible.  I added some sliced eggplant breaded with almond meal and spices, ( I’d give a recipe, but I usually just go with the flow and add spices wily nily)  and then pan fried in coconut oil, finished with a big salad and my wife, daughter and I had a great tasting and healthy meal.  This healthy meal was the polar opposite of bland, and didn’t take a long time to make.

The spice mix possibilities are endless.  I scour the internet for ideas.  Some of my favorites are Moroccan ras el hanout, Tunisian harissa, Indian masala mixes, or African berbere.  These can all be made at home fairly easily, or purchased premixed. Either way, they will add a different dimension to your diet.  They will help you replace quantityimg_2345 with quality.  I usually start out making small batches from someone else’s recipe, and as I feel recipe’s are just guidelines, I will adjust the ingredients to my tastes. I’ve used “Practical Paleo” by Diane Sanfilippo to get ideas for some of my mixes.  I keep a handful bagged and ready at all times.

Once you have some mixes you like, making a quick tasty meal is pretty easy.  Some nights I will just take a container of chicken wings, pat them dry, mix them in a bowl of my “kitchen sink” spice mix (I just add lots of a variety of spices to a bowl and mix.  I don’t measure, so don’t ask) , then bake for forty five minutes at 400 degrees (turning after 22 minutes).  You can do the same with chicken thighs using the above procedure.  Sometimes I’ll just pan fry a bunch of vegetables and then add a few pinches of one of my mixes to get a very tasty side dish.  I like my mixes on the just above medium hot side, so you should adjust the hot spices accordingly.

So now you don’t have to cringe when your doctor (or your spouse) tells you that you have to start eating healthier.  Healthy eating doesn’t need to be boring or bland.  Don’t be afraid experiment with spice mixes to help you make your healthy cooking exiting and different.

Chorizo Spice Mix

2 TBS chipotle powder

1 TBS hot hungarian Paprika (or your favorite paprika)

1 TBS onion powder

1 TBS garlic powder

1/2 TBS sea salt

1/2 TBS coriander

1/2 TBS cumin

1 TSP black pepper

Don’t Mace me man. 

No, I’m not talking about the chemical spray used for self defense. I’m talking about an old fashioned warriors mace like I am holding.  Not only can it be used for self defense, but you can get a great workout with one, and in a pinch it would be a great child motivator (who needs time outs) No, I haven’t gone off the deep end. It’s actually a really great tool to help you get a full body workout in a minimum amount of time and space.  The video I made below gives a good introduction to the many wonders of the mace. 

Healthy smealthy, who needs it!

Ever hear this one; “My (mother/aunt/unspecified female relative) smoke, drank, ate anything she wanted, never worked out, and she’s still kicking around at 99, so why I should worry about living a healthy lifestyle?”

That’s an interesting question.  I mean hell, George Burns lived until he wascharlie sheen.jpg 100, and he smoked cigars and drank like a fish until he died.  Why bother living healthy when living unhealthy is so much more fun? There are many who feel if they die a few years younger while having fun, it will have been worth it.  It’s a compelling argument.  Just ask Charlie, he’s the poster boy for this mentality. After all, that philosophy seems to have worked out for him.  If you’re agreeing with that last statement, Houston, we have a problem.

Modern medicine has done wonders over the last half century or so coming up with a myriad of ways to keep people alive despite their best efforts.  They have medical procedures and drugs that can extend life for years beyond what the average body could do on its own.   The medical/pharmaceutical industries have come up with some truly fantastic products to help people counteract the poor lifestyle choices they make.  So go ahead, have fun, live the way you want and ignore all the stuff out there about living a healthy lifestyle, modern medicine and miracle drugs will keep you alive for much longer than you could do on your own.  How cool is that.

The problem is, while you may live longer, what kind of quality of life will you have in those “extra” years.  I guess that depends on your expectations.  If you enjoy endless hours of Seinfeld reruns then live it up, because there’s a pretty good chance that’s all you’ll be able to do.  If you want to be active and enjoy a high quality of life well into your 80’s and 90’s, well that healthy lifestyle might help.  Don’t believe me.  I wouldn’t, I’m a notorious liar.  Fortunately there are plenty of credible sources out there to back up what I’m saying.  One is a book I recently read written by a couple of guys named Crowley and Lodge back in 2004 titled “Younger Next Year”  They have made a cottage industry out of the subject, as you can see if you visit their website at (youngernextyear.com).  Chris Crowley is a retired lawyer and Henry Lodge is an internist specializing in geriatric medicine.  The premise of the book is that you can live a healthy active life, with the vim and vigor of a 50 year old, well into your 80’s without relying on any miracle drugs to keep you that way. That’s really good news. The downside is that it takes work. really hard and serious work. But if you treat it like a job, and make exercise and your health a priority in your life, the data seems to be on your side that you will be able to live a healthy and vigorous life well into your grandparenting years. If you are over 40 you would be doing yourself a favor by reading this book. If everyone over 40 read this book and applied the basic premise to their lives, the pharmaceutical industry would collapse overnight. There wouldn’t be a need for all the drugs to treat the symptoms of the poor lifestyle choices made by most first world citizens.

If a retired lawyer and an internist aren’t convincing enough, there’s plenty of scholarly information on lifestyle related diseases (Cardiovascular disease, Dyslipidemia, Type II diabetes, Hypertension, Diverticulitis), including this study on diet and exercise interventions for metabolic diseases published in the Journal of the Society for Biomedical Diabetes Research in 2006.(Diet, Exercise, and Metabolic Syndrome)   Just do a little google research and you’ll find plenty of information from credible sources about how diet and exercise can reduce the effects of, if not outright cure, lifestyle related diseases.

I know taking a pill or two everyday for the rest of your life is much easier than modifying your lifestyle. It’s the siren song of a better life through pharmaceuticals. Why bother working hard exercising, denying yourself the daily pleasures of eating and drinking things that are potentially harmful to you, yet so good to eat, when you can just take a pill and make it all go away.  Why bother trying to get your stress under control when that blood pressure pill takes care of it for you.  I get it.  I’ve been in that situation and I almost succumbed to the siren’s call.  I was fortunate that I woke up before I went down that road.  It’s not easy to comprehend how much better you will feel everyday when you adopt a healthy lifestyle.  I’m not sure that I could have convinced my younger self there was a better way.  I was mired in the high stress, crazy work hours, shuttling kids around, grabbing whatever food you can(usually fast and highly processed) lifestyle that is standard in today’s western society.  That makes me sad, because if you only knew how good you could feel by living a healthy lifestyle, as I have come to know, you will regret not having done it sooner, as I have done.  When you adopt a healthy lifestyle, the changes won’t happen overnight, but they will happen, gradually, and you’ll eventually feel so good everyday that you won’t remember what it was like to be unhealthy.

Eat this Not That, My thoughts on Nutrition

This is a long one, so you might want to get a cup of coffee. If you want to read a realistic and practical approach to nutrition read on.  If you’re happy with your current health and nutrition plan, and with your knowledge of nutrition, skip this and get on with your life.

In this study published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) (JAMA Obesity in the U.S. 2011-12) 34.9% of U.S. adults  and 16.9% of children 2-19 years old are obese, and more frightening, 8.1% of toddlers are also obese.   According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC)  the medical cost of obesity in this country is 148 billion in 2008 dollars.(CDC Stats) The metabolic diseases stemming from obesity are literally killing this country.  Currently, over half the annual deaths in the U.S. are caused by “Lifestyle” diseases, (i.e. eating too much and being too sedentary). With this alarming data you would think our government would be pulling out all the stops to research and combat this problem.  Where is the war on obesity?  How about an “Obesity” Czar at the the White House.

Considering the current state of our health in the U.S. you would think finding the answer to the question “How do I eat healthy?” would be at the forefront of medical research.  You would be wrong.   In this great article about the integrity problem in the nutrition science world (Vox.com), the author sites a real dollar decrease in the government funding for nutrition studies.  So who will fund the studies, why food or supplement companies of course.  Coincidentally, a large portion of those studies (over 90% according to the article) have findings that are beneficial to the funding company.  So how can you trust these studies?  They are obviously not unbiased.  Fortunately not all nutrition studies are funded by the food industry, so there is some unbiased academic work going on out there. Unfortunately those studies tend not to have large sample sizes, and the findings of these studies usually are not as conclusive as the media headlines would have you believe.

So what does it mean to “Eat Healthy”.  If you go to Google U you will get lots of opinions on what is the best way to eat.  There’s a lot of good info out there, and there’s a lot of downright quackery.  The problem is that even the reputable medical sources really don’t have an answer to this question.  The reality is that the currently nutrition science is such a relatively young area of study that there are very few definitive answers to the question, “How do I eat Healthy”.  What also exacerbates the problem is that as much as we humans are the same, we are all chemically different enough that we breakdown and process nutrients so differently that what is a healthy diet for one person could be downright dangerous for another.  Also, the way the human body processes nutrients and turns them into usable energy, or stores the byproducts into fats, or excretes the unusable as waste, varies so widely among people that the very idea of one diet regimen being ideal for everyone is somewhat ludicrous.  So all these studies that compare the various diet regimens and ranks them from best to worst are misguided at best, and deceitful at worst.

There is no single “best” diet for everyone. Let me repeat that in caps for the hard of hearing, THERE IS NO SINGLE “BEST” DIET FOR EVERYONE.  So if there is no single best diet for everyone, and we really don’t know all that much conclusively about nutrition, then what the hell.  It’s time to eat, drink and be happy and just ignore my diet since we don’t know what’s healthy and what’s not.  That sounds awesome.

Not so fast Kemosabe.  There are a few things we do know. Before we get to that though, you need to understand that your body needs a Macro nutrient balance between  proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Your diet should consist of roughly 50% carbohydrates, 30% fat, and 20% protein.  These percentages can vary depending on your age, gender, exercise and fitness goals, and personal metabolism, but they will only vary by about 5-10 percent plus or minus.  The idea of eliminating or drastically reducing one or more of these macro nutrients will only lead to a metabolic imbalance and can cause physical harm.  The types of foods you use to get the balance can vary, but the macro nutrient balance will still be the same.

The first thing we know about nutrition is that processed food is generally not good for you, and the more processed food you eat, the more not good it is.  We know sugar, in large amounts ain’t so good either. The average U.S. citizen consumes over 160 pounds of sugar a year.  Some of you may think that you don’t consume much sugar, but if your diet consists of large amounts of processed foods, you probably consume a decent amount of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a sugar substitute which according to some studies is worse for you than sugar.  If you drink a lot of fruit juice or sports drinks, you are consuming a lot of sugar.  We know too much sodium in your diet can be bad, but most folks get the bulk of there sodium from processed foods, so if you cut back on processed foods, your sodium consumption will go down.  We also know that too much saturated fat is bad for you (more than 7-10% of your total fat intake), and any amount of trans fat is bad for you.  I know trans fat is what makes Oreos taste so good, but they don’t call them “fat pills” for nothing.  Not all fat is bad, there are essential fats that your body needs in proper proportion to survive and thrive, but that’s for another time.  A good general rule of thumb is that you should severely limit foods that come prepackaged in a box, bag, or can.

There are a few other things we know about what not too eat, but what about the other side of the coin, what is healthy for me to eat?  This part is a little more complicated.  One thing about eating healthy is that in general, the less it is touched or transformed by man, the better.  What that means is that foods eaten closest to it’s natural state, such as raw fruits and vegetables or raw nuts and seeds, are better for you than processed or cooked versions of these foods.  That’s not to say the cook or processed versions are bad, just that the raw version is better. What about GMO’s?  I’ll get into more detail about this topic another time, but to for now, if your diet is currently a healthy one full of raw fruits and vegetables and healthy proteins, and you exercise regularly and have and active lifestyle, and you are still having health issues, then maybe cutting  GMO’s from your diet would be a good thing.  If your diet currently consists of lots of processed foods, then any addition of raw fruits and vegetables that will replace those processed foods is a positive step, GMO or not.  I hope the anti-GMO police won’t hunt me down for saying this, but the reality is, you have to take small steps to create enduring change, and if that means replacing processed foods with GMO fruits and vegetables, then so be it.

As far as meats go, the wilder the better.  Wild game doesn’t have the chemical additives that farmed animals get through the types of foods or the antibiotics they receive to keep them healthy until harvesting.  The problem is that if your neighborhood is like mine, the squirrels and a few crazy neighbors are the only wild game we have, and as much as I would like to harvest some of my neighbors, polite society frowns upon that.  So the next best thing is farmed game meats, but these can be hard to come by and expensive.  If you have a local butcher selling Elk or Ostrich you might want to try it sometime.  Alligator is also a nice treat.  But what if you don’t have a butcher selling these meats, or you can’t afford these rather expensive cuts of meat, what are your options? Fortunately, the meat and poultry industries are catching up with cultural trends toward healthier foods and there are more choices of antibiotic free, grass fed, free range poultry and meats in local grocery stores.  If your grocery store is like mine, these types of meats and poultry are getting more readily available, and don’t require a second mortgage to purchase.  You need to read the labels to see what the processing is on the meats and poultry.  If you can afford organic, that’s great, but don’t feel you have to go organic to get a healthy piece of animal protein. Eggs are a great source of complete protein, and they are similar to Meats and poultry in that there are now more affordable choices for antibiotic free,  grass fed, free range, cage free eggs. Again, if you can afford organic when it comes to eggs, that’s great, if not, don’t sweat it. For those still worried about eggs and cholesterol, the medical community finally admitted last year that there really isn’t any correlation between eating eggs and higher cholesterol in humans.  It took them a few decades to admit it, but they finally fessed up.

Dairy and grains are the last two food groups to talk about.  I personally don’t eat either of these food groups because we don’t get along.  We’ve had a relationship in the past, it just didn’t work out.  Despite the pain and heartache, and many attempts at reconciliation, I finally gave up on both of these food groups.  I have been lactose intolerant for over 30 years, I just didn’t want to actually believe it until three years ago when I cut all dairy from my diet.  I put up with the gastrointestinal discomfort after eating cheese or yogurt because I happened to have enjoyed eating both of them.  I knew I was lactose intolerant, I knew that a glass of milk would have me doubled over in pain, but I really, really liked my cheeses and frozen yogurts.  I convinced myself I could eat dairy and it was okay, until one day I decided to stop and see what happened.  After about two weeks, I felt like a new person.    Who knew.  Well, I did, but I just didn’t want to accept it.  I’m not saying everyone should stop eating dairy, it’s a good source of a complete protein, but it’s also very inflammatory to the adult human body.  Most adults lack ,or are deficient in, the enzyme to properly process milk sugar, lactose.  They get GI distress from dairy to some extent, they just accept the GI distress as a regular part of life and ignore it, or worse yet, pop a pill to overcome the negative effects of ingesting dairy.  If you suffer from GI distress from time to time, especially after eating dairy products, you might want to cut out all dairy for a couple weeks and see if you feel better, you’d be surprised.  If you can tolerate dairy without issues, then low fat milk, cheese, and plain yogurt are great.  Watch out for the flavored yogurt as they as they tend to be full of sugar.

Grains are a little more complicated.  Whole grains are a recommended food group in the U.S. government nutrition guidelines.  But most grain products are highly processed, so there’s a dilemma.  Whole grains can be a good source of protein and fibers, they can also be very inflammatory to some.  So should you eat grains, the answer is simple, yes, and no.  See not so confusing.  The reality is that you need to experiment to see what is right for you.  Try going without grains for awhile and see if you feel better.  If you do, you need to cut grains out of your diet.  You notice I didn’t say the “G” word here.  Unless you suffer from Celiacs disease gluten isn’t the real issue, it’s the processing of foods with grain that is the issue.  What I find interesting is that a lot of folks replace one form of processed food with gluten, for another form of processed food without gluten. With or without gluten, if it’s a highly processed food with a lot of ingredients that you can’t pronounce, it’s probably not too good for you.  I know a lot of folks have gone to a gluten free diet, adding lots of gluten free foods to their diet and purporting to feel better, which may be so, but I think their missing the point.  I feel the point of a grain free, or gluten free diet, is to reduce a category of highly processed  foods from your diet.

A lot of people have told me they couldn’t live without their bread and pasta.  I know the feeling, I’m first generation Italian.  Bread and pasta was a staple of my diet for the first 50 years of my life.  When I first started my journey on this path to health I never thought I would cut those things out of my diet.  It wasn’t even a conscious decision to do that, it just happened over time as I became more conscientious about what I was eating.  I ate those things less and less until one day I no longer had a craving for bread or pasta.  At one point over four years ago, I realized I hadn’t opened my bread drawer in several months.  I was scared to see what was in it.  After a thorough cleaning, my bread drawer became my nuts and seeds drawer.  I now keep a variety of raw nuts and seeds on hand for the occasional snack, or to add to my daily salad.

I no longer keep bread or pasta in the house (except when my daughter is visiting), but I have to confess here that on occasion I have a piece of bread when I’m out at a restaurant.  Sometimes people will try to chastise me for that, reminding me that I don’t eat bread.  It’s not a religion, it’s my diet, and I get to choose what I eat, and if I want to eat a piece of bread on occasion, by god I’ll eat a piece of bread.  I haven’t been struck down by lightning yet.

The bottom line about nutrition is that we are all different, and what works for one person will not work for another.  There are no co0kie cutter solutions that will work for everyone, or short cuts, or magic pills.  There are some guidelines, but it’s up to you to experiment and find out what works best for you.  The thing is, if you need to take pills, prescribed or over the counter, to offset the negative effects of the foods you eat, then you don’t have a healthy diet.

Everyday we put a myriad of chemicals in our body, most of it is through the foods we eat, but some are chemicals that are either prescribed by a doctor, or self prescribed.  A lot of times, those prescribed chemicals are being taken to offset the negative effects of the foods we ingest.  Actually, it’s unfortunately more often than not, the prescribed chemicals, whether prescribed by a doctor or self prescribed, are taken to alleviate the symptoms of chronic diseases that are caused by poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle.  Whether this applies to you or not, it is a simple fact that western society as a whole  has come to rely on prescribed chemicals to alleviate symptoms brought on by a not so healthy lifestyle, because it is easier to pop a pill than it is to change your diet or lifestyle.

I say there’s a better way.  I am a data set of one that shows you can get healthy and fit, and feel and look younger, without the assistance of modern pharmacology.   I found my path to the fountain of youth.  It is wellness, fitness and healthy.  My passion in life is to help others find their path to the fountain.






Thanks for visiting my blog.  This is a place for me to talk about what it means to me to live a healthy and fit life.  You can visit My Story to find out more about who I am and where I come from, and you can visit My Passion to see why I started this blog.  I hope you’ll visit often and get to know me, but one thing that instantly stands out is that I am not one of those young beautiful women who so often writes these kinds of blogs.  I have been around the block and back a few times and I have the scars to prove it.  I am a happily married middle aged man with a wife of over 28 years, two grown children, and two not so grown furry children.

I am an avid reader.  These days what piques my interest is anything that has to do with wellness, fitness, nutrition, exercise science or strength and conditioning training.  The first thing I will say is that there is a lot of crap out there when it comes to those topics.  It can be incredibly confusing to read through all the stuff the media puts out about health, nutrition, exercise or fitness.  Some of it conflicts with the information they put out last week.  What’s real and what’s a sham? I hope to be a resource for you in wading through all the mumbo jumbo and helping you to find your own road down the path of lifelong health and wellness.  IMG_3329.JPG