Monday, October 20, 2014

Survivin' and Thrivin'!



There a lot of ways we can make our stay on this Earth better. One of the most important and one that contributes to the amount of time we're here is taking care of ourselves.

Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, Stephen Tremp, Michael Di Gesu, and Diane Wolf  the focus of this blog hop is to bring awareness to disease prevention and early detection, as well as touching on things we can do to improve our overall health.

I don't really have a "cause" to discuss, per se', but I do want to talk about one of the greatest means of preventative medicine.

Eating right and exercising.

About a year ago, my wife and I watched Hungry for Change on Netflix and it really changed our life. For the first time we really started paying attention to what we were eating. This was just the start of our journey, though. We then checked out Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead , which was another eye opener. The success stories we saw motivated us to give juicing a try and, while we could never get the full grasp of the "juice cleanse" (the furthest we got was four days), we still gave it a shot and it helped build on the foundation of getting healthy.

Then, about two months ago, my wife's job hosted a health fare for their employees (and spouses...which would be me), so we went. They gave us a battery of tests from circulation to cholesterol, to heart and stomach screening. We also talked to nutritionists and health coaches about diet and exercise.

All in all it was a good experience....until we got our test results. Most of the results were within 'normal' ranges, but there were some high numbers there. Cholesterol and blood pressure, which was deemed "pre hyper tension" and something to keep an eye on. While my wife's numbers were better, we decided to make some drastic changes....starting with how we eat.

We had flirted with the "Paleo" diet in the past, but it was a short romance and all that meat wasn't settling well with our digestion. After some more discussing and research, we decided to go with what I can only describe as "Vegan-esque". True vegans abstain from all animal products. If it comes from an animal, they don't eat it. For us, though, this means no red meat or chicken and no diary products. We're still eating fish and eggs, but the staple of our diet is fruits and vegetables. I've found that I don't really miss meat and there are tons of great alternatives for dairy...from coconut milk to Natural Balance butter. We're wanting to get to the point where we can ditch the processed substitutes and all that sodium, but that's further down the road.

Right now, we're transitioning nicely and losing weight as we go.

They say that the key to being healthy is "80% what you eat and 20% exercising", so you can't really talk about getting (and staying) healthy without discussing exercising. On that front, we've been doing a lot of walking (neither one of us have ever been big on running) and we bought Fitbits to help us track our progress. We've also been working with kettlebells and our Total Body gym to help cover the 'weights' portion of our regimen.

In my mind, enough cannot be said about eating right and exercising as preventative measures for getting and staying healthy.

So, I wish you all good health and I'll leave you with a couple of things that have really helped me in my journey for wellness: (I know I've mentioned these before, but they bear repeating)

1. MyFitnessPal: Experts are always saying that you should keep a 'food diary' if you want to lose weight, and they're right. MFP is an excellent tool to not only help you keep track of what you're eating (calories, sodium, etc.), but it's also a great way to keep track of your progress. You can also have 'friends' to help you along. I know I've posted this before, but you can find me here.

2. After researching a few of the 'smart pedometers', we decided to go with the FitBit to help us keep tabs on how far we're walking and being active each day. I also like it because it can track your sleep patterns. You can also link it up with MyFitnessPal to get a bigger picture of your goals and progress.

3. If you don't feel like putting a ton of money into weights or just don't have a lot of room for a bench and bar, kettlebells are a good alternative. We've been starting slow with the below video:



 It's a nice primer and even includes warm-ups and cool-downs. I've also mentioned the kettlebells a few posts ago, if you want to check that out, as well.

Best of luck and stay healthy!


21 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good for you! And you found a way of eating that you could continue to do. (Because dieting never works.) We don't do red meat or dairy in our house. (Or eggs for that matter.) Stay with it, man!
And if you want to shock yourself further, watch Food, Inc.
Thanks for participating in the blogfest!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark - so glad you decided to conquer your health challenges and are now so much healthier ... I'm not brilliant but I have a very varied diet ... and for a great deal of the time I don't eat meat.

Great information on how to approach helping ourselves .. cheers Hilary

Birgit said...

I can't do many exercises due to my weird problem but exercise is important. I saw a 60 minutes episode where they talked to people over 90. It was found that they ate in moderation and they did exercise but in spurts sort of speak. 40 min a day is ideal and it can be in 10 min increments-really interesting. I am hypoglycemic so no sugar, starch or caffeine. I do cheat which is bad but I know that what w=one eats truly helps and we live in the day and age of too much crap all around us

Stephanie Faris said...

I walk 50 minutes on my treadmill every day, but the eating part gets me. I like food that's not so good for me!!! I also tend to not eat so healthily in order to keep calories low. Slim-Fast for lunch, that sort of thing. I know...yikes!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Go ahead and go vegan! There are substitutes for almost everything now. (And I think they classify eggs as dairy, although last I checked, they don't come from cows.)

Robin said...

You have made some BIG changes. Good for you. I know that getting rid of that processed food is tough. I try... but I still eat some. I need to get back to some sort of daily exercise... sigh.

BTW, I included you on the HERE'S TO YOU post.

Maurice Mitchell said...

This is an inspiring post Mark and I love MyFitnessPal since it really keeps you on track. Congrats!

Lisa said...

Wow, you guys rock! Keep up the good work. Great post...

Suzanne Sapsed said...

Wow, loads of positive changes :) I've been a vegetarian for over 30 years and my diet would be good if it wasn't for my sweet tooth *holds head in shame* I also had a borderline cholesterol level, which spurred me to exercise and I'm actually enjoying it! x

Diane Burton said...

Congrats on making changes in your diet and exercise. Way to go!

dolorah said...

Eating healthy is a great way to prevent lots of illnesses. Glad its all working out for you.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I think it's great that you and your wife are in this together. The peer support (or pressure) can be very helpful.

After I saw Supersize Me, I stopped going to Fast Food eateries. I have returned, on rare occasion, but that movie was enough for me to make some major changes.

Stay healthy, Mark, and thanks for this inspiring post.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Now that my growing boys are all grown, we've cut out most of the red meat and can afford more fresh fruits and veggies. When you have a houseful of children, it's expensive to eat healthy.

Shannon Lawrence said...

It's fantastic that you guys can do this together. It should help you stay on the right path with your health and fitness. (Also, I'm glad you mentioned the health fair, because I was forgetting to do a health assessment my husband's job gives incentives for, and it expires soon--eek!)

Julie Flanders said...

This is awesome! I've been working on transitioning to a more vegetarian diet but admit I haven't been too successful. This inspires me to try again. Thanks for sharing!

sjp said...

Sounds like you've found what suits you and that's perfect! As long as you feel these things are bringing you to a more positive life then you have achieved your goal :) congrats and good luck with the kettleballs.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Big changes are hard to make all at once. It's easier to keep adding the small changes like you guys are doing. I have that diet ap...it is nice, when I remember to use it.

LD Masterson said...

It's great that you've found something that works for you. I have so many bad eating habits, I can't list them all.

Arlee Bird said...

It's admirable that you're doing these healthy things. So far my wife and I haven't gotten on any particular health regimen. We do eat more bananas though for whatever that's worth.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Empty Nest Insider said...

I'm glad you and your wife have found what works best for you! It must have been difficult making those drastic dietary changes, and I respect you for sticking with it.

Julie

Michelle Wallace said...

Eating habits and lifestyle are sooooo important, especially today with the highly processed and genetically modified foods flooding the market...
The way things are going, a vegan-based lifestyle seems like the answer...
Well done on the changes you've already introduced on your journey for wellness!

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