THE RIGHT STUFF!

Health begins with proper nutrition!

THE RIGHT STUFF

The Right Stuff is the title of an award winning 1979 book written by Tom Wolfe about the early test pilots who were selected for the Mercury program to be the first American Astronauts. It was later adapted as a movie in 1983 starring Ed Harris and Scott Glenn. America’s first astronauts were the finest specimens of humanity of their era. Physically and mentally fit with bodies of iron and nerves of steel, these men literally went  where no man had gone before. I’m not being sexist, at the dawn of the USA’s space program, it was exclusively a ‘boys club’. Russia sent the first woman to space , cosmonaut  Valentina Tereshkova  in the Vostok 6 mission on June 16, 1963. The US finally followed suit more than two decades later when the first female American astronaut Sally Ride flew up on the Challenger space shuttle, on June 18th, 1983.

The point is, these early space pioneers achieved the pinnacle of human health WITHOUT the  hundreds of nutritional supplements being marketed today. The vast majority of these so-called ‘Elixirs of Life‘ really are little more than ‘snake oil’ which is an old term for any worthless concoction sold as a cure-all or medicine.  So how did these men get so healthy you might ask? Simple, they ate right and exercised.

There is no ‘magic pill’. Diet pills are short-term fixes that work briefly and you usually gain back all the weight lost quite rapidly once you stop taking them. If you do keep taking them long term, they cause side effects and your body begins to build up a tolerance so that any benefits that may have been there in the beginning are lost at the end.  Worse yet,  every time you introduce a new drug into your body, whether it’s herbal,  natural, pharmaceutical, or chemical, you are altering the biochemistry of your body and wrecking your metabolism.  In essence, you’re making it harder for your body to function the way God intended it to work. ( The power that made the body has the power to heal the body, within reason, and  over time.)    

Save your money, and stick to the these seven essential nutrients :

Water, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids (fats), vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.  

salad-2756467_1920 (1)

The key is, based upon your age, gender, height, weight and activity level, you will need to have the RIGHT AMOUNTS of THE RIGHT STUFF.  It’s like trying to keep seven plates spinning on the tips of sticks. You have to do the work, put in the time, and monitor the situation carefully or it all comes crashing down.

It took me YEARS of trying and failing and trying AGAIN to find the RIGHT combination of diet and exercise that works for ME. Three years ago, I weighed 75-80 lbs. more than I do today. I could not run a mile. Now I can run more than thirteen miles, and I’m slowly working my way up towards running a full marathon in November. A full marathon is 26.2 miles. I am healthier then I have been probably since before I was in college. I certainly was thinner and younger then, but I wasn’t this strong, and running a marathon was the furthest thing from my young,  college mind.  I still have ways to go, but I am improving,  I am on the path, and I am sticking to the plan. It’s a journey, NOT a destination.

So HOW MUCH is enough?

Let’s start simple.

mineral-water-1532300_1920

Water, pure clean water.

Your body is mostly water. Overall, it comprises about two-thirds of our body.

The average adult needs to drink about 8 glasses of water per day. That’s 64 oz. total or almost two liters if you live outside the US and use the metric system. If you are a professional athlete, or exerting under high heat you might need to double that amount. The key is to maintain your body’s normal level of hydration and replaces any water lost due to sweat, urination, or breath.

Next, We look at protein, fats, and carbs. These BIG three comprise the bulk of our food.

According to the Standard American Diet or SAD, the daily amount of calories needed is between 2000 and 2500. It varies from individual to individual, again based on size, gender, and age. Most nutritional labels do go with the 2000 calories. (Some experts recommend up to 2500.)    
Food is FUEL to an athlete. You need to eat food to live, you should never, ever live just to eat food. Yes, we all have that Pavlovian  response when thinking of our favorite foods, but food is simply just fuel for the body.

According to the 40-30-30 diet rule, aka The Zone Diet, 40% of our daily calorie intake should be from carbs, with the rest split equally between fats and protein. Again if you are an athlete trying to build muscle, you may want to switch that 40% to protein, and cut the carbs down to 30%.

vegetable-2573149_1920

Carbohydrates (carbs)

Carbohydrates come in two types, simple and complex. You DO need both. Complex carbs need to be broken down by the body before being burned as fuel or stored as fat.

Fats

Fats naturally come in two varieties, saturated, and unsaturated.  A ‘THIRD’ type of fats are so-called transfats.  Transfats  are NOT naturally occurring and are man-made in a lab. Avoid transfats at all costs! Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and tend to come from animal sources. An example is butter made from milk. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and are plant based.  You want the majority of your fats to be unsaturated, but you do need some saturated fats in your diet as well. The jury is still out on exactly how much you  need, but best to keep the saturated fats to a bare minimum.

Protein

The recommended daily intake for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. This amounts to: 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man. 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.  Again athletes require greater amounts of protein to build lean muscle, which in turn stokes their metabolism allowing them to burn fats and carbohydrates faster and more efficiently.    

Protein can come from either plant or animal sources. Plant proteins tend to be incomplete proteins, with a few exceptions like buckwheat, quinoa, hempseed, and soybeans. Protein is comprised of 20 amino acids; 11 of these amino acids are produced by the human body. For good health, we must get the other nine amino acids (called “essential amino acids”) from the foods we eat.  Since animal bodies work the same way human bodies do, meat is a complete protein.  

Dietary Fiber

Dietary Fiber comes in two varieties, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, and it improves digestion and lowers blood sugar. Insoluble fiber aids with excretion.

Everything Else

This just leaves us with vitamins and minerals. There are 19 essentials on that list:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine or Thiamin)
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium.
  • Chromium
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Folic Acid
  • Vitamin K
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Zinc

Again, as for how much of each of these you actually need, going with the US FDA recommended daily allowances is a safe bet. Look them up online, or read the back of most multivitamins for the amounts of each.  Some of these will pass harmlessly through your body if you decide to mega-dose, and you’ll just end up producing expensive urine. Others can store up in your body and reach toxic levels. For example, too much potassium in your blood will KILL you!

Almost every nutrient you just read about should be present in your diet IF you eat a healthy diet of whole foods and have a decent variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains mixed in with your choice of proteins and fats. Always remember that the absolute best thing you can ever drink is pure, clean  water.

By sticking with proper nutrition and a regular exercise program, you will give your body all the tools it needs to maintain proper function. Your immune system will operate at peak efficiency and you will avoid many illnesses and medical expenses. There are no guarantees in life, sometimes you will get sick despite doing all the right things. But, your chances are far better when you do the right things and stick with the right stuff!

As always, I wish you success and happiness!   

CUTTING THE FAT!

‘The Skinny’ on diet pills!

CUTTING THE FAT

(This is part two of a two part series on nutritional supplements. For part one read ELIXIRS OF LIFE?)

Of the more than $30 billion annually in the USA on dietary supplements, the majority on the purchases are spent on  weight-loss products.  An estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year, and Americans spend actually $33 billion each year on weight loss products when you start to include things like diet-foods and diet beverages. Most of this money is completely wasted.

pills-3673645_1920

As with other nutritional supplements, Weight loss supplements come in three forms: pills, powders, and liquids.

Although vitamins weren’t discoverer until 1912 and only started being marketed in 1915, weight loss supplements actually precede vitamins by decades, having been first sold in the late 1880’s. Being overweight is not an illness, BUT is a health problem which can lead to many other health complications including various illness such as diabetes and heart disease.  Additionally, carrying excessive amounts of weight on your body will also lead to depression and an early grave.

When people think of weight loss supplements, diet pills are the first thing that comes to mind. As most of these products come in pill form, we will use the terms ‘diet pills’ and ‘weight loss supplements’ interchangeably throughout this article.  

Diet pills are sold two ways, by doctor prescription, or over-the-counter. They all have side-effects, and most are not intended for long term use because they can lead to other serious health issues such as heart-attacks, stroke, seizures and death. Years ago, a weight-loss bar I was eating regularly, the ABB EXTREME RIPPED FORCE bar which contained a combination of caffeine and (the now-banned) ephedra had that very disclaimer. I decided I’d rather be dead than fat so the warning was of little concern to me.

Some of these pills can be addictive, and all of them loose their effectiveness over time as your body builds up a tolerance to the active ingredients. Many of the products contain caffeine as an ingredient.     

Four prescription weight-loss drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for long-term use: bupropion-naltrexone (Contrave), liraglutide (Saxenda), orlistat (Xenical) and phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia).

The non-prescription diet pills sold over-the-counter are too numerous to list, but they come in four categories:

  • Appetite suppressants
  • Diuretics (water pills)
  • Thermogenics (fat burners)
  • Metabolism Boosters  (stimulants)

medical-681119_1920

Over-the-counter weight-loss-pills are mostly herbal supplements usually containing any or all of the following :

  • Garcinia cambogia (recently pulled from shelves)
  • Glucomannan
  • Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
  • Raspberry ketones
  • Forskolin
  • Chromium
  • Green tea
  • Bee pollen
  • Maroon bush
  • Damiana
  • Alfalfa
  • Butcher’s broom
  • Olive leaf
  • Parsley
  • Green tea
  • Dandelion
  • Mate

They may or may not contain caffeine, and / or similar stimulants, and may or may not be fortified with additional vitamins and minerals, usually in the form of a proprietary blend that is purported to help you lose weight fast!

“Running is real and relatively simple…but it ain’t easy.” ­– Mark Will-Weber

By the numbers

  • A pound of fat is 3500 calories.
  • The Standard American Diet (SAD) is 2000-2500 calories a day.
  • A slice of cheese pizza is about 250 calories.
  • A McDonald’s Big Mac is 563 calories.
  • On average a 5K run will burn between 300 and 400 calories.
  • The fattest man who ever lived was Jon Brower Minnoch who at one point weighed 1,400 lbs. He died in 1983 just short of his 42nd birthday.

Men were meant to climb mountains NOT become mountains. I am NOT endorsing fat-shaming.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to fully enjoy life in such a disgusting condition. There is a reason the term is morbidly obese. IF you are carrying a few extra pounds, know that I too have struggled with my weight for years before I hit upon the proper combination of diet and exercise that worked for me. Notice I said diet, not diet-pills.  I am still overweight, but in the past three years I have lost 75lbs and I can run faster and further than I ever have before.  A few weeks ago, I ran up a small mountain with friends, and today if it doesn’t rain I will be going for a 10K (6.2 mile) run with some of those same friends, just  for fun.

The diet pills are placebos. If you are losing weight fast you’re losing water weight, not burning fat.  

weight-loss-2036967_1920

The ONLY proven way to reduce weight is through diet. Eat REAL food, not DIET food. Don’t drink DIET soda, drink WATER. Water is one of the seven essential nutrients your body needs. Jesus had water, he didn’t need Diet Mountain Dew.

It is also impossible to lose weight by exercising. Exercising is VERY important and works in conjunction with a healthy diet. Exercising tones and builds muscles. Increasing muscle mass will increase your metabolism, BUT you can gain calories faster by eating then you can burn them off by exercising, so dieting is the key. There is no magic pill. As always I wish you success and happiness!  

fitness-3168246_1280

ELIXIRS OF LIFE?

Or Snake Oil?

elixirs of life

(This is part one of a two part series on nutritional supplements.)

If you’ve ever walked into one of the vitamin store chains, you’ve seen dozens of shelves filled with thousands of bottles or packages of nutritional supplements from hundreds of manufacturers. Aside from things like protein bars or meal-replacement bars, these supplements come in three forms. Pills, powders, or liquids.  

The first thought which may have crossed your mind is do I need ALL this to be healthy and strong? The answer is YES, and NO.  No one pill can supply all the nutrients found in wholesome foods.

Americans spend more than $30 billion a year on dietary supplements — vitamins, minerals and herbal products, among others — many of which are unnecessary or of doubtful benefit to those taking them.

Let’s be logical about this. If you REALLY needed a bottle of everything sold in the health store,  you would not be able to afford to buy a bottle of everything sold, and even IF you actually could buy a bottle of everything , taking that many pills at once would either make you very sick, or very dead. So what DO you really need?

Every human being requires seven essential nutrients to ensure life and long-term health.

Depending on your body type, age, and sex, you will need different quantities of the seven nutrients at different times of the day, in differing amounts.  Eating too much of the wrong foods at the wrong times will have disastrous health implications.  The same can be said of not getting enough of the right nutrients in your diet.

These seven nutrients are:

 Water, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids (fats), vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.  

To simplify it even further nutrition = food = fuel. All food is composed of one or more of these seven nutrients. It’s that simple. The proper balance is the tricky part. Some foods are higher in nutritional value, while others are really bad for the body.  A candy bar may have the same amount of calories as a piece of fruit, but the fruit is better even if the candy tastes sweeter.  We only NEED ‘nutritional supplements’ when the food we are eating fails to supply what is actually needed. This is when some people turn to vitamins and other pills to meet their needs.    

What may REALLY surprise you is that vitamins as we know then have only been discovered just over a hundred years ago. The word for them didn’t even exist until 1914. Here’s a little history.

In 1912 scientist Gowland Hopkins presented the first evidence that lack of certain nutrients in a person’s diet  could be harmful. He discovered the existence of what came to be known as ‘Vitamin A’, which is essential for good eyesight.  A year prior in 1911, fellow scientist Casimir Funk had isolated a previously unknown nutrient  from rice polishings. This unknown nutrient became known as ‘Vitamin B’ The term ‘Vitamin’ itself was coined by Casimir Funk as a contraction of the words vital and amine. Amines are organic compounds derived from ammonia  when hydrogen atoms are replaced by hydrocarbons or other radicals.

The first person to formulate vitamins in the US was Dr. Forrest C. Shaklee. Shaklee introduced a product he dubbed “Shaklee’s Vitalized Minerals” in 1915 which he sold until adopting the now ubiquitous term “vitamin” in 1929.

In 1940 One A Day multivitamins were first sold.

In 1968 Flintstones Chewable Vitamins were introduced to encourage children to get their essential vitamins.

In 1976 the now-defunct conglomerate American Cyanamid started manufacturing Centrum Multivitamins.

( The Centrum brand and its parent company went through several acquisitions until it ultimately became the property of Pfizer in 2009. Centrum was originally marketed as having 100% of the essential vitamins your body needed from A to Zinc. It is still the most sold multivitamin in the world.)

mood-raising-4741333_1920

Your body DOES need vitamins, but you should be able to get those eating proper foods, not pills!   

The 13 essential vitamins your body needs are vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins: thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyroxidine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9) and cobalamin (B12). The four fat-soluble vitamins—A, D, E, and K—are stored in the body’s fatty tissues.

What  about massive doses?

Every one of those vitamin , mineral, or herbal pills sold in most health stores or direct from the manufacturer falls under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 which regulated the market, more or less. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has a listing of the recommended daily allotments (RDA) which according to the government is exactly what we need. Whenever the government starts dictating how you live your life, it’s a bad thing. To err is human, but government intervention is the way to really screw things up. (Consider how many times they’ve re-designed the Food Pyramid Chart for one example.)

diet-pills-1328803_1920

While you are free to buy whatever supplement you wish off the shelves, understand that many of these products do not have to go through the same screening process as actual medicine does.  This is why you can buy vitamins and supplements that boast massive percentages that exceeded the recommended daily allowance.  (The mega multi-vitamin I personally take vegetarian Natures Plus Source of Life lists it’s B12 as having 16,667% of the RDA.)   

The supplement only needs to list the ingredients, the ratio percentage compared to the FDA’s daily recommendation, and the disclaimers that the product MAY help with this condition or symptom, but is NOT intended to  treat, cure, or prevent  any condition, symptom, or disease.  So basically, you are experimenting on your body with questionable substances which may or may not work at all, and could turn out to be harmful in the long term. (Remember when the FDA banned the dietary supplement ephedra in 2004, AFTER 155 deaths, and most recently began issuing warnings about garcinia cambogia supplements.)

If you find a product that you use, and it really makes you feel better and it works,  great! Continue using it, at your own risk. There are several supplements that I swear by because they work for me, and there are many others that I have tried and given up on as being of little benefit. Most of the time, you are wasting your hard earned money and you will never know in the short term if any of the supplements ever really helped at all. If you live to a ripe old age, maybe it was the because of the supplements, or maybe it was just good genes.

Chew over that and come back next week for part two  CUTTING THE FAT! The Skinny on diet pills!

As always I wish you success and happiness!      

oil-315528_1280

DUST AND THIRST!

Success requires both!

dust and thirst

I get knocked down, but I get up again. You are never gonna keep me down…– Lyrics from the song Tubthumping by Chumbawamba

Sir Richard Branson is one of my role models. I admire the man, he is an inspiration although I do not agree with him politically. Everyone is entitled to their personal opinions.  One of the goals in HIS bucket list is to go into space. When I was in elementary school, that was something I wanted to do as well. When I was a young boy, the only people who actually went into space were astronauts.  That goal is a very high bar which I abandoned in high school for various reason.  

space-station-60615_1920

As of February 2020, the world population is about 7.7 billion people. In the history of the world ONLY 536 people have gone into space. Russian cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (9 March 1934 – 27 March 1968) was the first man in space.  The first woman in space was also a Russian cosmonaut, Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova  (6 March 1937–). When you raise the bar from just going into space to going to the moon, only 12 men have ever walked on the moon,  astronaut Neil Alden Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) was the first to do it on July 20th, 1969. In case you’re wondering, the last man to walk on the moon was Eugene Cernan  in December  1972. The oldest person to go back into space was John Glenn (77 years and 103 days old) when  he ventured into space once again aboard the space shuttle Discovery on STS-95 in 1998. John Glenn could not have gone back into space had he not maintained a lifelong discipline of healthy diet and exercise.

The Sky’s the limit!

Sir Richard Branson has an excellent chance of going into space because not only does he maintain a healthy diet and exercise regiment, he’s attempting to create a space tourism company Virgin Galactic, and is currently funding and building reusable space planes. Fellow billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are also pursing similar ventures with SpaceX and Blue Origin, respectively.  There are over 2000 billionaires on Earth, and they pretty much collectively own everything. With a bottomless bucket of health, wealth, and knowledge at your disposal, you can accomplish damn near anything you set your mind to. If it’s possible, it will happen! It’s only a matter of time.

area-51-2037418_1920

Now here’s the key to success. All of these billionaires started small. Richard Branson opened a record shop. Jeff Bezos sold books on the internet from his garage,  Elon Musk was a co-founder of PayPal.  At one point or another, each of these  people encountered failures and setbacks. Their thirst for success enabled them to dust themselves off, pick up where they left off, and begin again. Each successful and completed goal lead to bigger and better dreams, and those dreams became reality because they took a chance and started something.

In life you have choices to make every day. Most of the time, you will make the wrong decision. Knowledge and experience will reduce the tendency to guess wrongly, but you will never be able to totally eliminate mistakes and human error. If you quit every time you fail, you will never accomplish anything. If you do not make plans, nothing will happen. If you do not do the work, it will not get done.  No one is going to live your life for you. YOU have to make it happen! YOU have to make the plans and do the work. YOU, and ONLY YOU. There will be mistakes and setbacks. DO NOT QUIT! You have to have the thirst for success and the wherewithal  to accomplish your goals. They will require your health, wealth, and knowledge to be top-notch. You have to be strong in all three areas, and you can’t fake strong.  Do not sabotage your success by starting ludicrous goals. Start SMALL and build your strengths, then move on to bigger and better.

It is my ULTIMATE goal as a runner to run an ultra-marathon. If I would have started my first race with a marathon, I would never have accomplished that goal, and I probably would have sustained serious injury or death . My first official race was a 5K run, and I kept building up distances, and training between races. I started training months before I ran my first 5K on April 28th 2019. I ran 11 official races last year. This year I have so far run 2, and have another 22 slated by the end of the year. This does not even take into account the time at the gym running 5K after work, between races.    My first marathon is scheduled for November 22th, 2020, months from now. I will run FIVE half-marathons, Three 15Ks and about a dozen 5Ks between now and then. All the while dieting and cross-training. And at the end of NEXT YEAR, I will attempt an ULTRA if and only if I make it through this first marathon. 

There are long-term goals, and there are short-term goals. Bigger and better means starting, and starting small. Great things come from humble beginnings.  You just have to start somewhere, so hit the road because your journey begins today! As always I wish you success and happiness!

jogging-2343558_1920

    

 

RUNNING ON EMPTY?

Do you have what it takes?

RUNNING ON EMPTY

There are different types of fuel offered at gas stations, and each type is meant for a specific type of automobile engine. Diesel fuel has more chemical energy than gasoline, but gasoline engines cannot combust diesel fuel, so the car would stop running. The reverse situation would be similar, and would more than likely destroy the diesel engine because the gasoline would combust at improper intervals. In either case both vehicles would be going nowhere fast.

Some people also live and die by their little gas gauge. Either they fill their tank only when it’s empty, every time it hits half-full, or always fill it only when they use it with just the pennies in their pocket which they hope will be ‘enough’. The last situation is often referred to as ‘running on empty’. Every now and then, you see one of these people walking to a gas station with an empty gas can, IF they even have one.

As you travel down the proverbial road of life, you are the vehicle that gets you to your final destination. Just as there are different types of car fuel, there are FOUR different types of fuel that keep you going.  How far you go in life is determined by how much ‘fuel’ you have. Are you ‘running on empty’, or do you have what it takes to go the distance?  

The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. –Romans 14:3

salad-2756467_1920

1) Physical Fuel (AKA food) – There are seven types of nutrients that every human being needs to survive. These are: Water, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids (fats), vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.  Depending on your body type, age, and sex, you will need different quantities of the seven nutrients at different times of the day, in differing amounts.  Eating too much of the wrong foods at the wrong times will have disastrous health implications.  The same can be said of not getting enough of the right nutrients in your diet.

There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up. –Proverbs 20:21

dollar-1443244_960_720

2) Financial Fuel – Taking care of yourself requires money. There is very little in life that is free. The reality of consumerism  in a capitalist society is that you get what you pay for. The higher the quality, the more expensive the cost. Professional athletes may earn millions of dollars in their respective sports, but they also send far more on maintaining and improving their physical health. More money means a better quality of life, better food, and in some cases, less stress. Here is a real life example, today I paid $90 for three pairs of socks. Socks as in what you wear on your feet. I am a runner in training for my first marathon at the end of this year. These socks are high quality compression running socks from a trusted brand, MUDGEAR. Yes, you can buy socks at the dollar store for $1, but I guarantee you that they will not be good enough for professional running.  

As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:16

20191229_111132_Burst01

3) Emotional Fuel – When you feel good about yourself, there is a special type of energy generated.  There is no way to explain it properly. It just radiates outward, and people respond to it.  Since I began training to become a runner, I started losing weight as a result of the combination of diet and exercise programs that I was adhering to. People noticed, and I started getting compliments and praise. This of course adds fuel to fire, and I felt even better. Some people have told me that I’m an inspiration. If my example has managed to fuel the fire of another person to improve their lives, then I count that as a win.  Words have power, and the right word at the proper time can make all the difference in the world. When I ran my first 5K on April 28th, 2019 I told all of my closest friends where and when the race would be. I was excited about the race, and I was also terrified because I have never done anything like that before. It was my secret hope that my friends would take this subtle hint and make a point to cheer me on at the finish line. None of my friends did. What did happen was that other runners, and officials of the race encouraged and cheered me on. And I felt empowered as I crossed that first finish line. As I continued running in more events and for longer distances, I began to make new friends in the running community who share my passion. Now these friends are waiting for me at the finish line cheering me on, and I feel amazing!

20200112_111826_Burst01

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. – Psalm 42:1

bible-1136784_1920

4) Spiritual Fuel – As the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church at Philippi, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”  (Philippians 4:13). The Holy Bible is the inerrant word of God and is a source of incredible strength and wisdom to everyone who chooses to read and follow it. I can honestly say that I am a far better man with Jesus in my life than I am without Christ. There is power in that book and I urge you to read it and discover the truth for yourself.  As always, I wish you success and happiness!  

THE END IS THE BEGINNING!

Life is a journey!

the end is the beginning

“Be decisive. Right or wrong, make a decision. The road of life is paved with flat squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.” – Anonymous.

In his second letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul made a metaphor between his life and career in the first century church equating it with a road race.  

” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – Paul the Apostle (from 2 Timothy 4:7)

This was one of the many ways the early leadership of the church created bridges between people to connect unfamiliar concepts to various individuals. As I began running road races last year in 2019,  I quickly came to realize how appropriate this comparison was. Before I even attempted my first 5K, my goal was to run a marathon. 5K is 3.1 miles, and a marathon is about nine times that at 26.2 miles. I was inspired by Nathan Maxwell  @socialshark , a friend on Twitter who was an ultra-marathoner. Nate and I connected through a love of coffee. When the internet was in its infancy, it was referred to as The Super Information Highway. Now we have social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. The thing about social media is that it allows individuals to share ideas, images and information of all sorts at a rapid-fire pace, with little or no filter. This double-edged sword has both brought some people closer, while at the same time destroying some relationships.   I am often amazed at the number of people around the world who check in regularly to read my weekly Sunday opinion piece. It is quite humbling.  

Running is a lifestyle choice. Like many things, you do it for as long as you can, on a regular basis. Once you quit, often there is no going back.

 “The end is in the beginning.” – T.S. Eliot

The First Key to success in life is proper planning executed at an early time. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I am currently using a lot of racing and health metaphors because of the interconnectivity of health and wealth. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, “Your health IS your wealth, and your wealth IS your health!” As I prepare for my first marathon at the end of 2020, today I run my first official race of the year, a 10K in Muhlenberg PA. Last year I ran a dozen races, from 5Ks to half-marathons. In 2020, my plan is to run twice that, both in distance and frequency. Each of these races has an entry fee. Had my finances not been in order, I could not afford to do this. As an athlete in training for competition, I have certain nutritional requirements. Dietary supplements , special meal plans, and better quality organic produce all cost money. Again, had I not taken steps years ago to fix my finances, I would not be in a position to afford these added costs. Not to mention I also need to buy quality running shoes and gym clothes.  

The Second Key to success in life is you have to want it. That should be obvious, but saying you WANT it and actually wanting it enough to do the work to attain the goal are two different things. When you really WANT something, the effort you are putting into attaining that goal should be outwardly apparent to anyone observing you. Actions speak louder than words, but RESULTS shout from the rooftops! 

metaphor-1209691_1920

The Third Key is not giving up. The road is long and hard, and there are many stumbling blocks.  My most grueling 5K of 2019 was a night run obstacle course, The Zombie Fun Run. The ‘fun’ stopped when I wrenched my knee as I slipped on a muddy hill. I was terribly concerned with each painful step that I would not be able to finish, but I managed to limp my way to the end. In a couple of days, I was right as rain again.  The first half-marathon I ran two months prior also was fun, until I hit the 9th mile, and was breaking personal distance records. That was when I started getting leg cramps.  I also limped to the end that time.  DNF (Did Not Finish) is currently not in my vocabulary. I have completed every race I signed up for. ONLY once (during the Chobert Challenge 15K trail run) was I DFL (Last), but I did finish.  Often when I am in such trying periods, struggling to reach the finish line, another quote from the Apostle Paul comes to mind.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Paul the Apostle (from Philippians 4:13)

Just like Nate’s Twitter posts inspired me to begin running, other folks I have connected with have inspired me to continue. One fellow runner who is truly amazing is Bruce Cronrath. Bruce is 76 years old, has a replacement knee and still runs half-marathons.  Whenever  we race,  he’s usually a few minutes faster than I am. I currently run about a  12 minute mile, and outweigh Bruce by over 100lbs. Bruce is a Vietnam  Vet and a credit to our country. He is the perfect example of never giving up, and demonstrates what is possible when you devote a lifetime of dedication to a healthy lifestyle  . I hope that when I reach his age, I have his level of stamina and endurance as well.

20191208_113856

Hopefully I have encouraged you through my blog to rise to new heights in whatever pursuits you wish to engage in. You can accomplish it as long as you give it everything you’ve got and never quit!  As always, I wish you success and happiness!

IMG_20191026_163544

IT’S ALL IN THE TIMING!

Unleash your full potential!

ITS ALL IN THE TIMING

(This is part two of a two part series on nutrition and exercise. for part one read FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!)

The human body is a complex biological machine.  Your brain is the most incredible computer in existence, but many of our biological functions operate automatically with an innate intelligence. We do not need to tell our heart to beat, our lungs to breath air, etc.  Like any machine, there is a natural rhythm and flow of operation, and an energy source must be maintained to provide power.  When we disrupt our normal rhythm of operation, or our source of energy by altering our diet, we throw our body into chaos. The innate intelligence of the body will take counter measures to assure survival.

Whenever we do not drink or eat at regular intervals the body will automatically enter starvation mode. A person can be starving and dehydrated while being overweight because the body has slowed down, or even shut down key metabolic functions because the flow of nutrition was disrupted.

In order to reach your full health potential, a conscious effort must be made to maintain a regular schedule of nutrition and exercise.  When you enact a strictly regimented diet and exercise plan you unlock your bodies full potential. It can recover quicker for illness or injury,  fight infection better, and last longer. You have the potential of adding years to your life, and that worth more than any amount of money. Your HEALTH is your WEALTH!

Let’s call it a day!

A day is 24hrs, and most active people break these up into three equal sections more or less. Although the can vary slightly from person to person, for argument’s sake let’s assume we sleep 8hrs, work 8hrs, and play 8hrs. (Play meaning anything that is not work) The body’s innate intelligence uses these established sections as a basis for setting our biological timing. Our body is most ‘happy’ when everything is ‘normal’ and regularly occurring. We maintain  an normal sleep cycle, eat proper nutritional meals and snacks at regular intervals, and exercise at about the same point.  When these conditions are met, we USUALLY have a healthy, functional metabolism. (Sometime years of neglect, prescribed medications, or advancing age will mess with our metabolism, in which case it might be wise to seek the advice of a qualified medical professional.)

BREAKFAST TIME!

breakfast-1663295_1920

The English word we use for the first meal of the day is a combination of two words BREAK and FAST.  During our 8 hour sleep cycle, our intake of nutrition was cut off. We expended energy maintaining our life functions, and we expelled water vapor in a breath. Some of us may have awakened during the night for a bathroom break. As such, our body has been experiencing a period of fasting, and we BREAK that FAST with our first meal. All of your meals should be a balanced combination of the seven major nutrient classes : Carbohydrates (carbs ,or glucose), Lipids (fats), Proteins, Dietary Fiber, Vitamins, Minerals, and Water.  ESPECIALLY water! You should have water with EVERY meal, and at regular intervals throughout the day, such as right after waking, after exercising, while being exposed to extremes of heat, and before bed.    

fitness-3168246_1280   

Avoid fad diets that restrict or totally eliminate any of the vital nutrients for life, and instead focus on BALANCED meals. Totally eliminating fats is not good for you, nor is cutting out carbs. Not getting enough protein is also very bad. If you aren’t getting enough vitamins or minerals in your diet, you may have to take some supplements, but healthy nutritious foods SHOULD supply many if not all of your recommended daily allotments.  Vitamins and their connection to our health  were discovered over a hundred years ago. Originally ‘vitamine’, the term was coined in 1912 by Casimir Funk. Multivitamins have been around for decades,  but every vitamin company out in existence will claim their ‘wonder pill’ will meet all your needs and is better than their competitor’s product.  Some vitamins can even build up in our bodies if you take them too often, reaching toxic levels. Some our body can’t store at all, so we need a regular supply.  There are OVER forty major vitamins and minerals, and the amounts needed vary by individual.

pills-3673645_1920

KEEP IN MIND: The nutritional needs of the professional athlete in training for competition are VERY different   than the average ‘couch potato’. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is about 2000 to 2500 calories per day, 30% each from fats and protein,  with the remaining 40% from carbs.  Athletes require a higher amount of protein in their diet, and a higher caloric intake. For example, a runner racing in a half-marathon will burn approximately 2000 calories during the race. This is why food is provided after sports.

Also after a period of prolonged exercise, or a sporting event your muscles require vital nutrients immediately! You have a 45 minute window to replenish expended energy stores to feed and repair damaged muscle fibers. Proteins and amino acids are vital to restore and build muscles after strenuous workouts.   This is part of the natural timing of a healthy metabolism.

Your muscles operate in three phases

The Energy Phase This is when your muscles are burning stores of glycogen to produce the levels of energy needed for the activity.  Taking in carbs during the activity can extend endurance and delay fatigue by maintaining blood glucose levels.

The Anabolic Phase– This is that vital 45 minute period after your workout when your muscles need  protein, amino acids, carbs, minerals  and vitamins, as well as water to repair damaged muscle fibers.

The Growth Phase–  After the Anabolic Phase, your muscles use the provided nutrients to repair and grow muscles. During this recovery and ‘rest’ period, your muscles become insulin resistant, so eating at this point isn’t helping your muscles recover at all, and any unneeded nutrition you ingest is stored as fat.

This is why eating late at night, or right before bed is a major health mistake.  Your body naturally and automatically stores unneeded calories as FAT. Carbs (SUGAR) are stored as FAT, Fat is stored as FAT,  EVEN excess protein is stored as FAT!            

If you want to be healthy for the rest of your life, maintain a notorious balanced diet with the recommended  amount of vitamins and minerals, exercise regularly, and follow the natural rhythms of your body by maintaining a regular eating, sleeping, working, and playing schedule. Remember, timing is everything! As always, I wish you success and happiness!    

A FULL-TIME JOB!

Are you only working part-time?

a full time job

Imagine that you had an awesome full-time job which paid an enormous salary with great benefits. The full package is enough to meet all your daily needs and attain your long-term goals. If you had such a job, would you give it your all, or would you just show up when you felt like working? This is a no-brainer for most people, you would get up every day and go to work thankful for having such a great job. Even with such a job, we all know that one person who does as little as possible and shows up when they feel like working. Eventually they lose their job,  and we wonder why they didn’t care enough to do the required work and keep the  job.

When most people think about their full time job, they only consider their nine-to-five day job. In reality, everyone has more than one full-time job, but the one which we all share is our health. When we lose our health, getting it back can be difficult, or even impossible. Our health is our wealth!

weight-loss-2036967_1920

You CANNOT lose weight by exercising!

Our physical health revolves around two points, diet and exercise. Both are full-time jobs. You cannot lose weight by exercising. Exercising tones the body and builds muscle. Adding lean muscle increases your metabolism so that you can burn calories faster, but by building muscle you can actually gain weight by exercising. Consider professional body-builders who pack on pounds of muscle and spend hours a day exercising.  You would not consider a body-builder fat, though they may be considered to be  overweight compared to the physical norm. Being overweight as a result of being muscle-bound is much different than being overweight due to obesity, but both carry health concerns. Being fat is never a good thing.

man-3130952_1920

We exercise to maintain and improve our physical fitness.

Components of Physical  Fitness include:

  • Agility
  • Balance
  • Body Composition
  • Cardiovascular Endurance
  • Coordination
  • Flexibility
  • Muscular Endurance
  • Muscular Strength
  • Power
  • Reaction Time
  • Speed

 

Soda is a carb, and so is broccoli!

In order to lose weight you must first control your diet. The phrase ‘we are what we eat’ is a tired cliché but there is some wisdom there. If we eat junk food frequently, our health will suffer as a result. Your diet is composed of both quality of food, diversity of food, and most importantly quantity of food.  The Standard American Diet is about 2,200-2,500 calories per day, with 50% of calories from carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 35% fat.  All of our food is made of three components: Carbohydrates (carbs), fats, and protein. Food also may contain certain vitamins and trace minerals which our bodies need. We burn these calories for energy each day.  At rest and during normal activities, fats contribute 80–90% of our energy; carbohydrates provide 5–18% and protein 2–5%. During exercise there are four major endogenous sources of energy: muscle carbohydrate stores (glycogen), blood sugar, blood fatty acids, and intramuscular triacylglycerols. The extent to which these substrates contribute energy for exercise depends on the intensity and duration of exercise, the level of exercise training, the initial muscle glycogen levels, and supplementation with carbohydrates during exercise.  

So the key to losing weight is to eat better quality food, and eat less than our normal daily caloric intake for maintaining our weight. In other words, eat less calories than you use each day.

Water, water, everywhere!

Soda and fruit juice, as well as so-called sport drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade contain a lot of empty calories. When you are working with a daily allotment of 2,200 – 2,500 calories, drinking these add excesses calories which don’t fill you up, and then you still have to eat. Jesus Christ didn’t have soda or Gatorade and got along just fine drinking water. Water contains ZERO calories, metabolizes fat, and maintains good hydration to ensure the body works the way it should. It is important to drink water on a regular basis at regular intervals. A good rule of thumb is to aim to drink half your body weight in ounces daily. If you are exercising or exerting yourself in high heat, you may need to up this amount. You should drink a glass of water shortly after waking,  with each meal,  and before bed, as well as sips throughout the day as needed.   Water was good enough for Jesus, and it should be good enough for you as well!

Let’s THINK this through.

Our bodies have an innate intelligence and they know what needs to be done, and when to do it. We don’t have to tell our hearts to beat, our lungs to breathe, etc.  Our bodies do this naturally. That same  innate intelligence works against us when we disrupt our natural cycles of eating, drinking, and sleeping. If we starve ourselves to lose weight, the body slows down our metabolism to conserve fats. If we try to drink less, our body ‘thinks’ it needs to hold on to fluids, and we can stop sweating, which is a natural cooling system.  As amazing as the body is, it only knows what it knows, and when we change our daily cycles of eating, drinking, and even sleeping we alter our metabolism.  In order for our bodies to work properly, we need to maintain regular cycles. This is why crash diets don’t work, as well as short-term dieting. When we cease regularly dieting and exercising, we lose the benefits gained by doing so. We take care of our bodies by eating, drinking, exercising, and resting on a regular cycle each day. When we do this, we make ourselves stronger, and we last longer. Everyone should want to live a long and healthy life, but whether or not we accomplish this is entirely up to ourselves! As always, I wish you success and happiness!

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!

(Your life may depend on it someday)

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE

“Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.” — George S Patton

Two hikers stumble across a grizzly bear and her cubs. The enraged mama bear snarls and charges towards them. As the two men turn to flee in terror, the one says “We’ll never make it, we can’t outrun the bear!”  His buddy replies, “I don’t need to outrun the bear, I just need to outrun you.”

That’s an old joke, and you’ve probably stumbled across it before. Often it gets recycled or changed a bit.  Lately it’s been used pretty often in the popular Zombie Apocalypse Fiction genre.  One traumatic  example was in the second season of TV’s The Walking Dead when Shane shot Otis so he could outrun the zombies chasing them by sacrificing his buddy.  In the move Zombieland, Columbus had 33 survival rules, but his NUMBER ONE RULE was Cardio. “To escape a pursuing zombie you will need to out-run it, and this means being in good shape. ” There is even an running app for your smart phone called Zombies, RUN!

Many people take running for granted, often fooling themselves into believing that if they ever needed to run, or run FAST and far , they could if they had to. You’ll never know how far, or how fast you can run unless you make time for a regular fitness regime that includes cardio.  Now besides entertainment, end of the world Zombie fiction is good for getting people to THINK about what they what they would do if the unthinkable happened. When a natural disaster such as hurricane Katrina or Sandy suddenly devastated coastal regions would you have  fresh water, power, or food? What about tools, and other supplies. So let’s assume you were smart and did have a ‘bug-out-bag’ with supplies ready and waiting for an emergence. Could you strap it on your back and walk with that load  for miles if need be? Could you?

Two out of every three Americans are overweight, and half of those are obese. Being FAT is not healthy. It is bad for your heart, your veins, your bones, and your mental state. It is bad for every part of your body. I should know, I’ve been struggling with weight issues for years, and two years ago I embarked on a vigorous diet and exercise program to get my life back on track once and for all. Understand this above all else, it is impossible to lose weight by exercise alone. Exercise just helps to strengthen and tone the body. You’re food is your fuel, and your body needs the best possible nutrition to build strong bones and muscles. As a stress eater, I know that it is a struggle to give up comfort foods such as chocolate, cake, and pizza. Trust me, I know all about it. It is a daily struggle of mind over matter, but once you establish a daily routine and stick to it, you will see results. It will NOT happen overnight, all good things take time. The important thing is to start.

The Power of Positivity

When you feel good about yourself you feel better physically, and vice versa. I was in a bit of a funk a year ago because my weight had hit a plateau which is common.  So I needed to change what I was doing as far as both diet and exercise. After all what is the point of being rich and successful if you’re too sickly or overweight to enjoy the fruit of your labors? Doing NOTHING is not an option. When I was fatter, my knees hurt. Running was not an option in that state. As I began losing weight, the knee pain lessened and I started doing the elliptical more and more at the gym. And I began to see results so I started feeling better about myself. Obesity causes mental illness, such as depression.  Over the past two years I’ve managed to lose about 60 lbs so far, 30 last year, and 30 this year.  Last summer when I lost the first 30 lbs, I was on vacation and a cute waitress at my favorite cafe noticed, and told me I looked really good. That one compliment made my entire year and provided the impetus  to train even harder. So I decided to try running.

637042639003493998

One of my friends on Twitter is Nathan Maxwell @socialshark . I met him though CoffeeChat. He’s an Ultra endurance athlete, married with six kids. He started running 11 years ago and at the time he too was overweight, and couldn’t run one mile. Since then he has trained incredibly hard and to date has run more than 60 ultra marathons and four 100 milers. He has been (and still is) an incredible source of inspiration and motivation. I am fully convinced that I would not have reached the level of running I have currently achieved had it not been for his knowledge, wisdom, and encouragement.  Almost six months ago, I ran my  first 5K, that’s 3.1 miles. Since then I did a 15K Trail Run, uphill with 4 creek crossings in 90°F heat, and two weeks ago I ran my first half-marathon (13.1 miles). On October 13th I’m running another half-marathon, and four days later I have a 5K night run planned. I hope to run a full marathon in a year or so once I get my times down on the half-marathon.

beforeafter

If there is one thing that I can say about the running community, it is filled with people who encourage and support other runners. I have been told that I was AMAZING more than once, and have gotten many thumbs-up, fist bumps, and high-five palm slaps. Likewise I have passed on encouragement to fellow runners, including one man  who decided to run his first 5K at age 70. And yes, Richard finished, and he wasn’t last! Even if he was, the point is running the race, and not giving up. I was dead last when I ran the Chobert Challenge 15K trail run. I burned over 2000kcals and was exhausted and staving when I crossed the finish line, but I did it, and there was even pizza waiting! Next time, I won’t be last. My first half marathon was grueling, but I finished! The best thing about half-marathons and up is that you get a finishers medal when you cross the finish line. This is not to be confused  with the insulting participation medal. It is a FINISHERS MEDAL and you earn it when you FINISH.  Crossing that finish line is an accomplishment that needs to be recognized.  Each year there are over 750 marathons and half-marathons held across America. Less than 1% of the US population runs in these races.  As for 5K races and such, there are also medals awarded by divisions and gender, so you can still win first, second, or third in your bracket even if you were not in the top three over all, and your times are recorded so you can track your progress as you go for the gold! Good luck, and as always I wish you success and happiness!  

20190907_111921(1)

BIGGER IS BETTER!

More bang for your buck!

bigger is better

Life Is a Journey, Not a Destination – Anon.

Benjamin Franklin is quoted to have said: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”.  As part of my journey to ‘a better me’, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to not only my wealth and knowledge base, but also my health.  After all what’s the point of being wealthy if you’re too sickly to enjoy the fruits of your labor. All of the major self-help gurus stress the importance of a healthy mind and body as being key elements of being a successful person.

Proper nutrition is essential to good health. The problem is good food is expensive. As I previously in last week’s blog, you can grow your own fruits and vegetables at home and preserve them yourself. You’ll have the comfort of knowing that your produce is organic and that you canned them free of artificial chemicals, additives, and preservatives.   But there are just some things that you can’t grow at home. Take bananas for example. More than likely you aren’t going to be growing those in your back yard. I do know of some people who have their own free range chickens producing eggs for them, but that’s out of the question for most of us as well. And who wants to milk a cow to get milk for their coffee? Some things just have to be purchased commercially but  there are ways to trim the fat from your expenses at the same time as you trim it from your waste.

This past year, I went on a very aggressive diet and exercise program. It’s self developed, but the main elements are that I eat healthier and exercise. I’ve been eating a lot of organic foods, cooking healthier dinners from a meal kit service called Hello Fresh. I go to the gym when possible, and I’m a lot more physically active during the summer. Kayaking, and riding my mountain bike are quite fun. I’ve managed to lose 40 lbs. and I’m back to where I was before the bout of depression hit me when the ex-girlfriend left.  Another 30lbs more, and I’ll be back to what I weighed in college.

Fad diets come and go, but every person is different, and every BODY is different.  I found something that works for me, and if it works, don’t fix it! It irks me when people tell me I should be doing something other than what I’m doing because they read something somewhere that said (FILL IN THE BLANK) is better than whatever it is I’m doing.  If they want to try whatever it is they read about, good for them. I’ve my own results to show that what I’m doing is working, and I feel wonderful.

There are a lot of dietary supplements that I take during the course of a day. Many of them are quite pricey, but just as you have to spend money to make money, you need to spend money on better nutrition.  The good news is, many of these items do have long shelf lives, so you can take advantage of sales, economy packs, bogos, and clearance specials each of which will stretch your hard earned dollars and give you more bang for your buck.  Stocking up and buying in bulk will drastically reduce the cost per serving, save on shipping, and prevent the accidental impulse buy when you go to the store for one item and leave with a dozen.

Economy Size

If you know for a fact that you will definitely use a product, often buying the larger size will save you money on the cost per servings.  A  single 60 serving  can will always cost less than two 30 serving cans, UNLESS the smaller size is on sale. Always pay attention to the cost per unit.

ecconomy

BOGO

The infamous BOGO or ‘Buy One, Get One’ sales will allow you to double the amount purchased and reduce the cost per unit. Taking advantage of these will allow you stock up. You can also try a different flavor, but if you buy it, use it. Waste not, want not.

bogo

Clearance

If you see an item you use (or something similar that’s equal in quality) on clearance, buy it! Always check the ‘best by’ date to be certain that you can use the item before the expiry date. Certain supplements lose their potency with age, so if it’s been sitting on a shelf for months, the bargain might not be much of a bargain. Every item is different, some will be just fine, so do your homework. It’s very easy to check, just whip out your smart phone and  Google information on the products and how long they’ll keep.

clearence

Brand X

Brand loyalty means that sometimes you’re paying for the name on the box, and not what’s in it. There are many generic or store brands that are every bit as good as national brand names. Often, these items will be sitting side by side on the self with the competing product. They will have similar packaging, and will probably have some statement on the label telling you to compare the ingredients. Some of these products are just as good if not better than the name brand, and will save you pennies on the dollar.

Automatic shipments and free shipping

Many of the health places like GNC and The Vitamin Shoppe have automatic subscription services you can sign up for which will offer a discount on the supplements, and offer free shipping if you order a certain amount. The beauty of these automatic subscriptions is that you never run out accidentally of your favorite vitamin, or go to the store and discover they’re temporarily out of stock. Also, these services occasionally include bonus trial sample items for free, so you can try new products that you might also enjoy.

free

Of course there are always sales going on, so it always pays to shop around at competitor sites. I was at GNC and the sales associate told me that they’ll price match an identical item offered on AMAZON which they happened to stock as well. Some of these brick-and-mortar stores are really having to fight for your business because online retailers are stealing their customers, so they are occasionally willing to make a deal.      

Following these all of these tips might mean you’ll eventually need to buy both a smaller belt, and a larger wallet. As always, I wish you success and happiness!