Everyday Person’s “Diet” and “Exercise Plan.”

We know we must have a healthy diet and exercise to stay healthy, but, how many diet and exercise plans are out there??? Too many to count. A quick Google search for “How to Lose Weight,” reveals 484,000,000 pages associated with that phrase. There are 914,000,000 hits when searching, “Exercise Plan.” The ones that rise to the top are mostly associated with extreme methods or pills for a diet plan. Most of them tout losing weight rapidly, 10 Days, 7 Days, Fast. If any of you have used these methods or pills, you probably experienced what others have, rapid loss and rapid gain. Or you might have discovered, this is too difficult for any extended time period. And then there is exercise…diet alone doesn’t work, so what exercise will I be able to continue?

Reasons why I have had difficulty staying with any scheme or extreme plan, they are not healthy, natural or sustainable. I have a schedule that keeps me from strictly and faithfully following most of the plans. I once went to a nutritionist/Lipidologist. Following the personalized plan she devised for me was unsustainable with my schedule, lifestyle or budget. Clean eating, Mediterranean. Adkins, MediFast, NutriSystem, Dash, and others usually have you eliminate certain groups of food, restrict eating out, cut calorie intake to a “always-hungry” level or make unrealistic claims that become disheartening when you aren’t able to meet them.

Through trial and error as well as hit and miss, here is what works for me. NO SINGLE-FOCUSED DIET PROGRAM. NO UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS OR RESTRICTIONS. NO EXERCISE PLAN THAT IS UNSUSTAINABLE. Below are a few suggestions that come from my experiences of losing weight, maintaining my weight loss and improving my health…better BP, Resting HR, energy level, and appearance. I feel better and enjoy life, including meals. Currently, I have lost 37 lbs over a 1 year and 6 month period. My resting heart rate is 59. My blood pressure is 130/82. My cholesterol is still a little high, but only borderline now. My level was over 300.

This is for the long-haul, not 6 days, 30 days, or even 1 year. This is a life-long lifestyle, so I have to enjoy it and like it.

1. Determine a realistic weight goal. I weighed 135 when I graduated from High School and had a 27 inch waist. So of course, that is what I had in my mind as my desired goal. Or my goal was the picture of that muscular, handsome model. That is totally unreasonable and unhealthy for me now. I weighed 198 when I was convicted that I needed to do something to be healthy. (I’m a small framed, 5’7″ male, so I was heavy). I researched and found that at my age and height the recommended weight was around 145. I believe that is unrealistic for me, plus, when I lost to 145 before, I looked like a skeleton. I do know, that when I was 155, I felt great. So, my goal is 155. You need to determine a weight where you felt great, your health indicators were good, but not unrealistic for you. You also need to forget a time-period goal for achieving your weight goal. Just lose weight. Then maintain your goal.

2. Determine health areas where you need improvement. I have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. I also gain weight around my belly area, which I’m told, is the worst type concerning health. So, I needed to determine my diet and exercise plan accordingly. I cut back on salt, sugars, certain carbs, certain fats, and caffeine. All these cuts came from my personal research as to what affects my health issues the most.
I also need an exercise plan that will have an affect on these health issues, which turns out to be, cardio exercises.

3. Build a balanced realistic diet plan that works for you. I tried the Mediterranean diet, cleaning eating diet, low carb diet, 6 day eating 1 day fasting diet, crash diets…I could lose weight, sometimes extremely fast, but I could not sustain the plan and ended up gaining more than I lost. Usually from sugar binges or starch attacks.
For me, I found a good balanced diet that included carbs, fats, protein and certain sugars was satisfying and sustainable. I have been at it for over 1 1/2 years now, which is a record for me. I have only been using MFP for over 145 days. This has greatly helped me stay on point.
I use the paid subscription of the app, MyFitnessPal. The MFP uses your personal information, the goals you set, and devises a balanced plan that includes proteins, carbs, fats, and sugar. MFP determines your daily caloric limit based off your personal goals and stats. MFP provides diagrams, a community of encouragement, good information and a place to log daily.
Logging daily is not an option, in order to achieve your goals and maintain them, you must develop the habit of daily logging. And you must be honest with your logging, even if you went over your limits. If you find that you continually go over your limits, you might consider lowering your lbs/month weight loss goal. Better to lose more slowly than discouraging yourself.

4. Do a little research to find the best types of foods in each group. Not all fats are equal. Not all carbs are the same. Not all proteins are beneficial. Not all sugars burn the same. Complex, simple, saturated, non-saturated, poly, red, white, cold water, lean, there are differences and you need to know them.

5. Avoid processed foods, read the label. For me, it is impossible to eliminate, completely, processed foods. However, when shopping, I look for products without preservatives, sugar or fillers added. I avoid products that are processed such as deli meat, white bread, etc. I avoid canned foods, opting for frozen when available. I eat fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, multi-grain, etc. You will have to start LOOKING AT THE LABLES. The fewer the ingredients, the better. The ability to read and know what the ingredients are is a must.
When eating out, which I do regularly, eat at restaurants that have their nutritional values listed. With the internet, this has become easier and easier. Determine what you will eat before going and stick to it. I pay close attention to calories and salt content, because of my personal issues. Calories is vital. You will be surprised what you are able to eat. When eating out, I don’t worry too much about what is processed and what isn’t.

6. Find an exercise that you like and are able to do consistently. I ride a rode bicycle. I am motivated to ride on multiple levels. I love it!! I am competitive and enter events throughout the year that I have to be in shape to participate in. I joined a bicycle riding club. I schedule riding 3 times per week. I have developed a riding plan. Did I say, I love it.
This came through trial, error and elimination. I started by working out in a gym. That did not last for me. I didn’t like it and it was difficult to schedule consistently. I tried swimming. I tried running. I entered running events. I joined a running club. I tried triathlons. I joined a triathlon club. Swimming is boring to me, plus I have to drive to a pool. I kept injuring myself running. It takes too much time to train in swimming, running and riding, for me to do triathlons. Plus, I could never get over the anxiety at the start of the swim. However, I never gave up on doing something, until I totally figured out, cycling is my thing!!
Musts for me concerning my exercise, Liking it, having multiple motivations and being accessible. I love riding, I am competitive, so I compete. I want to be healthy, and cycling is cardio, burning the type of fat I struggle with, belly fat. I ride out of my garage leaving and finish riding into my garage. I have a bike rack that is easily loaded and locations close by for different terrain. This took me several years to figure this out, so do not give up, do something, consistently until you find that “something” you like, are motivated to do, and is accessible.

7. Find a community or club that will be your encouragers. As I said, MFP, has a built in community, you just have to “friend,” people to have it. Join a club and participate in the extra events the club sponsors.

8. Keep this in mind…ONE DAY OR ONE WEEK OF MISSING YOUR GOAL, DOES NOT A LIFE MAKE. You will miss your caloric goal one day, one week or even one month. Hopefully not one month. You will miss exercising…because life happens. Do not stop or give up, just because you missed. Get back on as soon as possible. This is a life long journey…which is the main reason for finding a diet and exercise plan that is reasonable, that you like and that is accessible. You want it to last a lifetime, to have a lifetime of healthier living.

Committing to Clean Eating, Sort of…

I have been reading a lot of articles and blogs on Clean Eating. Some of what I read makes sense, but some seems impractical and almost impossible to practice. I like the approach, but 6 meals per day each being 3 hours apart, for most of us is at the very least impractical. So, I am going to adapt the principles so I am able to apply them in a practical way in my life.
I found two great sources, Tosca Reno and The Gracious Pantry. Tosca advocates eating 6 meals per day. Both have great information on Clean Eating food and principles. Plus, I’m not sure how healthy it really is to eat 6 meals per day 2-3 hours apart. Some say, including The Gracious Pantry, eating small meals more often increases your chance of diabetes, since your insulin stays spiked all day.

Anyway, here is what I am going to do. I will eat 3 meals per day, with snacks throughout, to keep me from getting “famished.” I will shop for and seek to eat only “clean” foods. I will stay with MFP, MyFitness Pal, recommended calorie intake for my goals. I will continue my physical activities and exercising. So, I am going to Sort-of take the Clean Eating approach, adapting to my situation and life.

Here are the basic principles of Clean Eating that I will implement:
1. Eat Lean Protein, Complex Carbs and Healthy Fat at Each Meal.
2. Never Skip a Meal. Make sure you eat breakfast daily!!
3. Read Labels. No more than 5 ingredients for the item. No “chemical” wording accepted. No preservatives. No processed ingredients. No added salt/sodium. No added sugar of any type. If you don’t understand or know what the ingredient is, don’t use it. (Organic is best)
4. No Refined Ingredients or Foods. (No sugar, refined grains, refined fats). Ezekiel Bread is a great bread source, it is in the freezer section due to no preservatives.
5. Eat Fresh Vegitables, Fruits, and Nuts. Stay away from juices.
6. Eat Lean Protein. Cold water fish is best. Skinless chicken breast. Skinless turkey breast. Grass fed beef. Venison. Pork tenderloin. (No ham, no processed meats, no deli meat).
7. Drink 8 Cups of Water, Daily.
8. Portion Size and Calorie Intake Suitable for Your Physical Type and Goal.
9. Plan. If you do not plan your meals, even going out, you will not be successful. If you do not plan your grocery store trips, you will not purchase what you will need or eat.
10. Freeze Food. Learn how to freeze fresh vegetables, fruits and meat. Most people give up, because it is expensive when fresh food ruins in the refrigerator.

There are plenty of resources to find lists of healthy fats, complex carbs and proteins. However, I provide a short list of nuts (some of the healthy fats), complex carbs and fish protein below.

Notice the Raw Nut list shows number of nuts and calories in 1 ounce.
Type of Nut # of Nuts in 1-ounce Calories
*Almonds 22 170
*Brazil nuts 6 to 8 185
*Cashews 18 160
*Hazelnuts 20 175
*Macadamias 10 to 12 200
*Peanuts 18 165
*Pecan halves 20 200
*Pistachios (shelled) 47 160
*Walnut halves 14 185

High Water Content Complex Carbs
*Beet Greens
*Brussel Sprouts
*Turnip Greens

Complex Carbs
*Citrus Fruit

Best Fish
*Mahi Mahi

Running for My Life

I am running for my life…seeking to keep physically fit, mentally astute, and spiritually attune. I am one of those that has to have something other than keeping fit to motivate me, so I run in events. My two favorite are Miracle Match in Waco and Cowtown in Fort Worth. I have run in the past without training, and that was brutal. I train now, which makes me feel better on a daily basis and helps me in my effort to lose weight (maintain once I make my goal of 165 lbs).

I have found that many over train (or incorrectly train), use the wrong shoe, and don’t take time to find the best sock. I was one of those. Each one of these can contribute or even cause injuries. I went through 4 different types of shoes as well as one foot injury, knee issues and ankle issues. I ended up with blisters and sore bottoms of my feet, thinking that socks were just socks. I couldn’t increase my pace nor lower my heart rate average. I now run without injuries, am increasing my pace and lowering my average heart rate.

I found my running shoe, the Altra Torin 2.5 (I think they now have a 3.0). I found my sock, the Balega Second Skin Fit Ultralight. I also follow expertly planned training schedules. The Cowtown provided one designed to prepare for the Cowtown 1/2 marathon. I am following it now.

I have problems with Metatarsalgia on my right foot. I tried Saucony, Newton and Hoka One One shoes, each aggravated my problem. My local running store owner directed me to the Altra Torin 2.5 shoes for an ample toe box and cushioning for longer runs. I am sold!!! I have run over 200 miles in them and 2 Half Marathons. I am able to run long distances now without the pain I experienced before. Take time to find your shoe!! Go to a local store with a real running expert who takes his or her time with you. DON’T BUY ONLINE!!

My socks came from talking with the same running store expert. After I explained my issues, he recommended Balega socks. After trying 3 different thicknesses, I now run solely in Second Skin Fit Ultralights. No blisters and no more sore bottoms of my feet.

I have read enough recently to know that over training is a problem with many older runners. We think that we have to catch on all that lost time, when we didn’t run. I recently read an article that pointed out, runners and cyclist who improve, do not run everyday and follow a training schedule that includes different distances, intervals and types. I now follow a schedule prepared by a professional where I run 4 times a week (M,T,T,S). Each run is a different distance and a different type of run (flat, easy, fast, climbs, etc.) Before I run, I stretch and briefly do aerobic exercises to get my heart rate up. When I get my heart rate up to 130+, I stop the exercising to stretch while my heart rate goes back down. When my heart rate goes back down, I start running. All this has improved my pace, average heart rate, recovery and how I feel. I have also come to enjoy running much more than I did. I use to see running as a necessary evil, but now I look forward to each run, actually notice my surroundings while I run, and have great conversations with God and myself in stride. I do not listen to music while I run, I want to be able to think and hear traffic.

Run for your life, but do it with the right equipment and best training schedule.