LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS!

The American way!

life liberty and the pursuit of happiness

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.– Excerpt from the United States Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1776

Today is Sunday July 5th, 2020. It is Independence Day Weekend in America.  Because the actual date fell on a Saturday, some businesses and institutions were closed Friday as well. Fireworks have been occurring each night across our great nation. On Friday Night President Donald J. Trump delivered a brilliant and stirring speech to a crowd of 75,000 Americans assembled in front of Mount Rushmore, South Dakota. The event concluded with a patriotic music program entitled ‘The Spirit of America’, the largest fireworks spectacle I have ever witnessed, and a live rendition of The Battle Hymn of the Republic preformed by the US Air Force Band.

My personal celebration took place on Saturday morning. I ran The Medal Dash ‘ALL AMERICAN’ virtual half-marathon,  my 5th race of this distance in the past two months.  A half-marathon is 13.1 miles (21 kilometres if you live outside the USA).  A year ago, this level of personal athletic ability would not have been possible.  I am stronger, faster, and fitter now because I have been training hard this entire year in anticipation of my first full marathon, the Philadelphia Marathon slated for Sunday November 22nd, 2020. I am determined to earn that Liberty Bell Finisher’s Medal, awarded ONLY to those who complete the race in its entirety.  I’m proud to be an American, because AMERICAN ends in ‘I CAN’!

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GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Philadelphia PA is the birthplace of America. 244 years ago, 56 patriots risked their lives and gathered there to sign the Declaration of Independence, creating the most free nation in the history of the world. America is a land of opportunity. Sadly, there are those among us who would wish to destroy our great nation. They claim racism, injustice, and a host of contrived social ills. These are lies delivered by self-deluded individuals with no moral compass, and no direction in life. They feel the world owes them a living.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

Your life IS YOUR LIFE. You are responsible for you own wealth, health, success, and happiness. The world owes you NOTHING. It is your job to pursue your own personal path to success. It is out there. Opportunity abounds and the possibilities are endless.  You yourself have to do the work! No one is going to do it for you, and even if they did, could you truly appreciate it? There is pride in personal achievement. Every medal on my trophy wall is hanging there because I did the work, put in the time, and earned those medals.  You can be successful, if you choose to be. That decision remains entirely in your hands.  I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. Your life IS YOUR LIFE! So go forth and start living it! Seize the day! As always, I wish you success and happiness!

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THE FOREVER QUARANTINE!

What are we waiting for???

THE FOREVER QUARANTINE

The  Antiseptic Baby and the Prophylactic Pup 
Were playing in the garden when the Bunny gamboled up; 
They looked upon the Creature with a loathing undisguised;— 
It wasn’t Disinfected and it wasn’t Sterilized. 
 
They said it was a Microbe and a Hotbed of Disease;         
They steamed it in a vapor of a thousand-odd degrees; 
They froze it in a freezer that was cold as Banished Hope 
And washed it in permanganate with carbolated soap. 
 
In sulphurated hydrogen they steeped its wiggly ears; 
They trimmed its frisky whiskers with a pair of hard-boiled shears;   
They donned their rubber mittens and they took it by the hand 
And elected it a member of the Fumigated Band. 
 
There’s not a Micrococcus in the garden where they play; 
They bathe in pure iodoform a dozen times a day; 
And each imbibes his rations from a Hygienic Cup—   
The Bunny and the Baby and the Prophylactic Pup.

poem Strictly Germ-proof by Arthur Guiterman  (His poem was published in the Woman’s Home Companion in 1906 and poked fun at the growing obsession that Americans seemed to have with trying to keep things clean.)

I cannot speak for other countries, but I am seeing a growing frustration with this seemingly endless shutdown. COVID-19, the virus that shut down the world is by and large the top health topic of 2020. Everyone, everywhere is affect by this stupid virus in one way or another. It is impacting health, finances, and religious activity. I like a large group of American citizens feel that the timing of this shutdown and its impact on the nation during an election year is highly suspect.

It seems that there are two camps right now, each firmly entrenched in their own beliefs. Disagreeing with a member of the ‘other camp’ will not change their mind, it will only bring down a storm of wrath and hatred upon you.

The two camps are:

  • those who seemingly believe that COVID-19 is the worst plague in the history of the world and is destined to wipe out all life on Earth unless we shut everything down and quarantine everyone for an ‘safe’ period of.. oh say, maybe a decade?
  • those like myself, who feel that this ‘killer plague’ is nothing for healthy individuals to be concerned about, but that the ramifications of shutting down the economy are far worse than any super-flu.

The country needs to go back to normal TODAY! You quarantine sick, elderly, or infirm people to protect THEM. Forcing healthy people to stay locked-up takes away their freedom and their rights.  This is tyranny, and people need to rise up.

If you are an ‘essential worker’ or have a monthly income, sitting at home is a minor inconvenience. Small business owners stand to potentially lose their life’s work and savings. Furloughed employees in many cases have NO income and cannot feed their families. They MUST get back to work FAST or their children will starve. When this lock-down fist occurred, it was supposed to be temporary. A couple of weeks. Two weeks in March stretched to first ALL of April, then ALL of May, and now PART of June, but maybe longer, and watch out, there might be a ‘second wave’ in the Fall. This madness must end. Just this past Friday there were protests at the State Capital calling for the impeachment and or resignation of Gov. Wolf because of his handling of this crisis.   

“We have a saying in the movement that you can’t trust anybody over 30.” Jack Weinberg activist, in an article printed on November 15, 1964

It’s funny how the hippies back in the 1960’s used to say don’t trust anyone over 30. Once they themselves finally ‘grew up’, their tune changed to ‘don’t trust anyone under 30’. It’s ironic how things come full circle. I believe the most dangerous part of this society today is how these young people, the so-called ‘millennials’,  are so quick to get information and affirmation from peers or viral internet memes, rather than seeking timeless wisdom or expert opinion. It’s as if any bit of information that didn’t occur within their lifetimes does not exist. It’s hard to blame them in some cases because the signal to noise ratio is so vast. When I was a very young boy, the internet didn’t exist, we had seven TV channels and there was no such thing as DVD’s or streaming content. If you missed it, you didn’t see it unless there as a re-run.

Today, with the full sum of human knowledge in the palm of their hand, people choose what facts the want to believe,  and ignore anything that doesn’t fit their narrative. Again, who can blame them? There is so much content being generated each day that it would take a lifetime just to read, watch, and listen to everything created that day.  Now you miss it because it becomes buried in the miasma emanating from the internet.

I AM THE BUNNY OF DOOM! FEAR ME!

Lately I have been focusing on the past.

The poem Strictly Germ-proof has been running through my head for the better part of the week.  Especially the last two lines of the first stanza. When people see me walking around refusing to wear a mask or gloves, I see their loathing. I am ‘the bunny’, but I refuse to let THEM freeze me in a freezer cold as banished hope!  This bunny has teeth and will lash out in self-defense if you attempt it. I have had co-worker who practically accused me of attempting to murder their entire family because I refuse to comply with these CDC recommendations. If you think a mask and gloves will save your life, YOU wear them! If you feel I am some asymptomatic ‘Typhoid Mary’ stay as far away from me as you feel safe. Go take a long walk on a short pier, it might do me some good. And as you sit in self isolation,  maybe you should watch the 1931 film Laughing Gravy, it’s one of my favorite Laurel and Hardy films and should be available to watch online somewhere.  As always I wish you success and happiness!

REALITY IS VIRTUAL!

(At least for now…we hope!)

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As you well know by now,  in mid-March most of the USA, as well as nearly every nation on Earth began shutting down EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE that was deemed non-essential due to the world-wide pandemic COVID-19,  AKA the Wuhan coronavirus, sometimes shortened to just corona.

It is now nearly two months later, and most of the fun things in life remain shut down. You cannot go to a movie theater with your friends, dine in at your favorite restaurant or pub, and any large gathering if severely frowned upon by people who INSIST that the virus that shut down the world will wipe out all life on earth if you get within 6 feet (2 meters) of another person, or if you don’t wear a face mask, or if you don’t wear rubber gloves, or if you don’t bathe in hand sanitizer. When this began, we were told that these small sacrifices would be temporary, then the weeks turned into months,  the rules went from voluntary to mandatory, and still there is no end in sight.

People are so afraid of dying from Covid 19, that they remain locked-up at home and instead contract Covid-15! What is Covid-15 you may ask? Covid-15 is the new name for a health disorder contracted by first-year college students who would gain 15 lbs by eating unhealthy foods and not exercising. All joking aside, your best defense against the coronavirus is to have a healthy immune system. You get a healthy immune system by having a healthy active lifestyle, and eating healthy foods.  Sitting on the couch glued to the TV for hours a day, munching on Doritos and drinking Mountain Dew is probably the fastest way to wreck your health during this lock-down.  

For people who just go to the gym to exercise, this shutdown has cut off their only outlet for exercise. Unless they have fitness equipment at home, or can improvise make-shift weights, they are out of luck. Or are they?

I can make you a new man!

Charles Atlas  (October 30, 1892 – December 24, 1972) was a bodybuilder in the 1920’s  who developed a no-equipment exercise program called Dynamic Tension almost a hundred years ago. He began offering his free program by mail in 1929. In the Charles Atlas exercise program, you use your own body to provide resistance and are able to exercise weight-free. You can do these exercises virtually anywhere. These are far more effective than isometric exercises, another equipment-free exercise method.  No gym required. So if you’re determined to not step one foot outside until this ‘exaggerated’ crisis is over (probably five or six years from now), you can find all of these dynamic tension workouts online. There are countless YouTube videos . And best of all, they are still FREE! Like the late Charles Atlas proclaimed, give him 15 minutes a day, and he will make you a new man!

GET OUT AND RUN!

Forcing sick people to stay at home is called quarantine. Forcing healthy people to stay at home is not only wrong, it’s tyranny! Many healthy people are frustrated by this lock-down, and they are demanding that the various states in which they reside be re-opened. Again, the doomsayers proclaim that if the ban is lifted, death and all the miseries that plague humanity will come out just like opening Pandora’s Box. I say poppycock! A runner runs! Without access to a treadmill, either at a gym, or a home unit, a runner needs to hit the open road. Since the shutdown, all the remaining races of March, as well as every race in April and May have been cancelled. Now races in June and July, possibly even August may be cancelled as well. State parks have been officially shut down, as have some trails. Again I am thankful that this virus struck in 2020, not a year ago in Spring 2019. I was training at the gym in March and April last year as I prepared for my first ever official timed race, Beat Beethoven at Alvernia University on April 28th, 2019. My first race ever, and six weeks of training leading up to it would have been obliterated. I probably never would have run again.

Fast forward a year later, and now I have a group of amazing friends to hang out with every weekend.  Originally before COVID-19 struck, several of us were planning to run in the Gettysburg Half Marathon to celebrate my one year anniversary of running.  Since the fixed date moves, I now recognize the last Sunday in April as my anniversary date. I was then going to follow up with the Ocean City MD Island to Island Half Marathon.  But as I said, officially timed races are all on hiatus for the immediate future. I, like many runners MUST keep training for upcoming races, pandemic or not! I will be running my first ever FULL MARATHON in Philly on November 22nd,  just over six months from now.

The ONLY thing left for the professional runner to do is sign up for ‘virtual races’ and watch it themselves to clock the time and distance using their runner’s smart watches.  Virtual races are where you register for the race online, then you run that distance anywhere, alone or in groups, on the trails and streets, or even on a treadmill IF you have access to one during this insane quarantine.  Fortunately RunTheEdge.com     has been offering a FREE series of virtual races so my running friends ‘The Pack’ and I have been doing many of these either alone or on in smaller groups during the week, and in much larger groups of six to ten on the weekends. There are also pay-to-run virtual races that will provide you everything from a bib and T-shirt, right up to a finisher’s medal. I personally believe that every time I run a distance of 13.1 miles  or more, I DESERVE a medal.  If you are interested in swag, do a search to see what virtual races are out there and what they offer. Many of them donate a portion of their profits to charities, so you get to do some good for your fellow man.   

Since the last Sunday in April got rained out, a large number of The Pack got to together and ran various distances up to our abilities on May 3rd, 2020. Felicia, Steve, Lacey, me, and Gina ran Virtual Half Marathons (VHMs) together.

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I will caution people that running long distances solo and unsupported is a bad idea. IF you are going to run a VHM or further distance, run with a buddy of equal ability and try to set up water stashes along your route. 13.1 miles is a long distance to run without water, and although we all made it,  we won’t make that mistake again. I was the ONLY one to carry a personal sport bottle, and I ran out after ten miles.  I am the slowest member of the group so my run took an extra hour. Fortunately the faster runners were able to bike out to me with a water bottle by the last mile of my run.

For my first VHM I chose one that offered a medal I craved, TheCrushCorona, a depiction of the dread virus being stomped beneath a runner’s sneaker made me very happy. This was my third half marathon, and my best time yet.  

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As for the rest of The Pack, Allison who suffers from exercise-induced asthma  ran an 8K. Two of the Spartans, Justin and Steph ran a virtual endurance challenge called the  Yeti Ultra 24 Hour Challenge. They had to run or walk 5 miles every 4 hours for 24 hours.  It was a real party, a total celebration with good friends and pizza! We had a blast!

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Unfortunately, a few members of The Pack got backlash from germophobes who felt the need to scold and insult us for our reckless behavior, and for partying while ‘people are dying’. Newsflash– life is for living! No one in the group is sick! Even the two weakest members of The Pack are stronger than the ‘Iowa Couch Potato’.  We support each other, and the strength of  The Pack IS The Pack! We are healthy BECAUSE we LIVE HEALTHY. Your best defense against COVID-19 is a strong body and a healthy immune system.

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This weekend, The Pack decided to mix things up. We drove to a new trail, planned to run 7 miles, followed immediately by what I thought was supposed to be a 14 mile bike ride. At least that was the plan. First, it was an unseasonably cold day. As we were unfamiliar with the terrain, we overshot the bike part by 5 miles, extending the journey to a total of 24 miles. 

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My biking ability is not YET up to a 24 mile trek, especially after running 7 miles in under 90 minutes. 14 miles MIGHT have been doable for me, but the extra mileage did me in so I had to wait a few minutes for rescue once I could pinpoint my location to an intersection at a road crossing. Again, this stresses the importance of the buddy system (and carrying a cellphone) when running or biking long distances.  You do NOT want to be injured and alone in an unsupported race.  

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So if you TRULY desire to live your life to the fullest, get out there and run and enjoy yourself! If people feel the need to tell you how to live YOUR LIFE, ignore them! Haters gotta hate! It’s who THEY are, and what THEY do. YOU are better than THEY ever will be, YOU are amazing! As always, I wish you success and happiness!

The virus that shut down the world!

When you live your life in fear, you are afraid until you die.

THE VIRUS

I’m a few hours late posting today’s blog. Honestly, I was struggling whether or not to even post it, because it reflects my personal opinion, and may generate a bit of a backlash due to its controversial nature.

You may have seen Venn diagrams before, though you might not have known what they were called. In a Venn diagram, you group items in two or more  circles, and if they have anything in common, the circles overlap.  It is a way of listing interrelated  content to show how things connect.

Venn-Diagram

When I started writing my weekly blog InstantCoffeeWisdom.com it was with the intent of demonstrating that success and happiness are yours for the taking. A way of  showing you ‘the possible’ where you only saw ‘impossible’. These weekly articles are a sort of a series of interlocking Venn diagrams.  I started out writing about microeconomics, built up to macroeconomics, then discussed how your views on finance, religion and politics are connected.   Since the beginning of the 2020, I’ve been focusing on how your health is interconnected to your finances.  

Which brings us to the elephant in the room, Covid-19. I honestly do not want to write about the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, but if there is a bigger Venn diagram linking health, wealth, politics, etc, I certainly can’t think of one. Because Covid-19 is such a hot-button topic impacting every major country on Earth, I feel a duty to my readers to discuss the subject.  You may not like what I have to say.

Full disclosure: I am a Trump supporter, and I am of the opinion that the virus is being politicized. By that I mean that the liberal media is using it to stoke fear,  to spread misinformation, and  to make President Trump look bad in the eyes of voters in a effort to deny him a second term. This is an election year.

If you hate Trump, nothing he says or does will ever be good, right, or intelligent. Nothing I say on this subject will change the way YOU feel.  Likewise, bashing Trump will not go over well with me. I support my president 100% and no person on Earth is more qualified to lead the USA during this crisis.   Whether you chose to believe it or not, President Donald J. Trump cares about you and your country, and is doing everything in your best interest.    

Yes, I am ‘concerned’ about Covid-19, but I am more concerned by the economic ramifications than I am by the health implications. Covid-19 ‘can’ kill you, but so can the flu and countless other diseases.

It is my personal conviction that the very best way to beat this disease is to be healthy enough in the first place by living a healthy active lifestyle.

Worldwide over 650,000 people have gotten Covid-19. 30,000 have died, but 100,000 have fully recovered.  In the USA we have over 100,000 confirmed cases, and less than 2,000 deaths. The US population is 330,000,000. Some  smaller countries like Italy have been harder hit. Yes Covid-19 is highly contagious, so if YOU are sick  you need to self-quarantine. Same goes if you have a weak immunity system. Stay home.  From my perspective, the percentage of getting the virus is so small, and the chances of dying so small that I’m not worried .  Everyone of us is going to die from something, someday. By having a healthy active lifestyle, we increase our chances of living a long and productive life. No matter what precautions we take, risks we dare, or calculations we make, NOTHING is guaranteed in life.  I refuse to let fear run my life. God is in control.

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I have co-workers and friends who are freaking out with worry and blind panic over this disease. If you accidently sneeze or  cough,  you are treated like you’re trying to kill them.  They wear masks and rubber gloves, and I keep waiting for one of them to show up wearing a full hazmat containment suit one day.  I don’t wear either gloves or a mask, and maybe I’ll use hand sanitizer once or twice a year on a whim. I certainly don’t bathe in gallons of the stuff like the people around me are doing right now. Either I’m right, or I’m wrong. Ask me next year how I made out.   

There’s an epidemic of what I call ‘well-shaming’ and ‘single-shaming’ going on. If you’re healthy and well, you’re being told that you’re asymptomatic and just because you feel fine doesn’t mean you don’t have the virus, so YOU should stay home so THEY can be safe.   And if you’re single and well, you’re being told the same thing, that YOU should stay home so that THEIR family will be safe.  If YOU are worried that I MAY infect YOU, by all means please stay as far away from me as makes you feel safe for as long as you need to.  If you are immune compromised with a weak immune system you need to be very careful with everything YOU do  and YOU need to take every precaution that YOU need to take to ensure that YOU don’t get the virus. I want you to be happy and healthy.  Don’t worry about me, I’m fine, and I am doing what I think is right for me.  Just don’t tell me what you FEEL I SHOULD be doing, because I just may tell you WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO DO!  This is still a free country.

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LET’S TALK HYGIENE!

Proper hygiene is essential to good health. As the old saying goes, ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’. You should always practice good hygiene, pandemic or no pandemic.

  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after going to the restroom, or before handling food.
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing,  use a tissue if you have one handy.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently used items and surfaces.
  • Bathe daily
  • Wear clean clothes
  • If you’re sick, stay home!

I’M ALL OUTTA BUBBLEGUM!

Aside from illness, the Covid-19 panic has lead to widespread shortages as people began hoarding various goods.  Most Americans have never faced such widespread shortages of needed groceries, shut downs of shops and services not deemed essential. We are not used to being told NOT to go to church, not to travel, not to gather socially. The last time we had nationwide rationing of foodstuffs was probably during World War II. It’s certainly the first time in my lifetime that the nation has been virtually locked down. 

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Again, if you’ve been reading my blog from the beginning, you may recall my early article Oh no! Not Again! from October 22, 2017. If you followed my advice, you had a fully stocked larder with plenty of supplies to fall back upon. You had cash reserves to see you through as businesses closed under government orders, and people were told to stay home.  

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If you failed to follow my advice, sorry, but I did try to warn you. My heart bleeds for the single mom struggling to make ends meet who went to buy the ONE pack of diapers she desperately needed only to find bare shelves. Or the person that needed toilet paper, and tried pleading for ONE pack with a greedy hoarder who filled their shopping cart with every last roll on the shelves. These people never expected to encounter these types of shortages.  It’s like telling little Billy not to touch the hot stove, only to hear an ear-splitting wail of pain not five minutes later. Pain is a powerful teacher . It is sad and unfortunate that some people must experience hardship in order to learn valuable life lessons. Things will get better, most of us will be just fine.  Some of us will sail through this unscathed, and some of us are going to suffer either because we filed to do the right thing at the right time.   

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Fortunately On March 27, 2020 President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act, a relief package aimed at mitigating some of the economic fallout caused by efforts to allay the spread of Covid-19. Employees furloughed, laid off, or fired will begin receiving a onetime stimulus  check to help tide them over.  Retirees will be getting checks also according to AARP.  Payments may be arriving as early as this Monday for some.   The quicker that people get back to work, the faster life will get back to normal. The longer business are shut down, the less likely they will be able to ever open their doors again. There are provisions in the CARES Act which will provide business both small and large with government loans. Hopefully the country will heal as a nation and become stronger. Hopefully people will learn from their mistakes and be better prepared for the next disaster. We hope for the best, but should prepare for the worst. As always I wish you success and happiness!   

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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.  

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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.

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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%.

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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!   

A SMALL MOUNTAIN…

Is STILL a mountain!

a small mountain

Climb every mountain

Ford every stream

Follow every rainbow

‘Till you find your dream– Lyrics from the song Climb Every Mountain from The Sound of Music.

Last Sunday February 23rd 2020, due to an unexpected event there was no weekly article posted on my blog. It was maybe the 3rd or 4th time that this has happened since I began writing InstantCoffeeWisdom three years ago. To my frequent and long-time readers, I offer an apology, and an explanation.

Every now and then, life throws you a curve ball. Something you never expect. Sometimes it can be a bad thing, but sometimes it can be an unexpected and pleasant surprise.  This was the latter.  I was originally working on an article concerning nutritional supplements (which will now be posted next week, bumped by this article) when one of my running friends gave me a surprise gift.  Accepting this gift meant dropping everything I was doing, and being a little selfish to spend time with my friends. I feel bad for disappointing my dedicated readers like Ken, and  especially those who check-in from foreign countries like Romania, England and Canada.  I am always amazed that I have readers in other countries. The internet can be a wonderful thing, but I digress!

One of the items in my bucket list is training for a marathon. I have been putting in a lot of time running both at the gym on a treadmill, and in official timed races of various distances. Registration for official race events costs money, and as I planned 24 of them this year I had to pick and choose as well as budget accordingly to be able to afford to pay for my fitness hobby.  The point I have been stressing this year is that your Health is your Wealth, and vice-versa. What is the point of becoming rich, only to be too sickly and infirm to enjoy the fruit of your labors? The point of life is to enjoy it!

Gary Brendel, a friend who is part my pack of runners  wanted to run in The Ugly Mudder 13K Trail Run and he asked if I was going. This was a race that I had skipped. I told him that I had limited funds and had to pass because I couldn’t afford the extra race with all the others I had lined up.  Gary told me he would pick up the tab for my registration. I was stunned! It was such a wonderful gift and a generous surprise that to refuse would have been rude. It is very nice to know that when times are lean, you have friends who have your back. Gary is also planning on running in the Philly Marathon with me in November, and my other friend Steve will run the half that same day. Additionally, Gary also convinced another mutual friend, Alison Riley to run with us in The Ugly Mudder. Alison is a novice runner who believed that she was only able to run 5K (3.1 miles). This was her first ever 13K (8.078 miles) and she did amazing!  Like the Bible says in Proverbs 27:17, ” As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

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 One Ugly Mudder!

The name ‘Ugly Mudder’ is a play on words. It is a near homonym for ‘Ugly Mother’. A Mudder is a race horse that runs faster on a muddy track. This was the logo for this year’s commemorative  t-shirt.

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The character depicted is reminiscent of Baba Yaga , the pestle wielding witch from Slavic folklore who would kill and eat unfortunate travelers who got lost in the woods. Baba Yaga was most likely an influence  for the fictional Blair Witch in the 1999 horror film, The Blair Witch Project.  

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The 17th annual event was timed by Pretzel City Sports. PCS was founded in 1987 by the awesome Ron Horn and they help many regional organizations such as The Pagoda Pacers hold races.

As for the race itself,  The Ugly Mudder 13K Trail Run is a foot-race up Mount Penn on some of the ugliest, treacherous, and muddy trails imaginable. Mount Penn is a 1,120-foot-high mountain that rises to the north and overlooks the city of Reading PA.  It’s a little mountain, but a mountain is still a mountain. For comparison the tallest mountain in Romania is Moldoveanu Peak at 8,346-feet , which is slightly taller than Omu at 8,219-feet, also located in Romania.  The tallest mountain in England is Scafell Pike at 3,209-feet.  In case you may be wondering, the tallest mountain in North America is Denali in the USA in the state of Alaska. At 20,237-foot, it is also the third tallest on Earth.

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There are two large structures visible on Mount Penn.  One is the William Penn Fire Tower. This imposing stone and reinforced concrete tower is 120 feet tall and is situated on Skyline Drive. The 120-ft.-tall former fire observation tower was built in 1939 for $30,000. A lighted Cross on the tower was forcibly removed in 2009 by God-hating atheists who threatened a lawsuit because the Cross reminded them that they had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.    

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One mile from the Fire Tower is Reading’s landmark Pagoda, the symbol of the city for over a century.

Commissioned in 1906 at a cost of $50,000 by William A. Witman, Sr. , the Pagoda was completed in 1908.  It was originally intended to be a luxury resort atop Mt. Penn, but due a bank foreclosure after the denial of his liquor license, Witman never opened the Pagoda.  By 1910 the Pagoda and its surrounding 10 acres of land were deeded to local business owner, Jonathon Mould and his wife, Julia (Bell).  On April 21, 1911 they “sold” the Pagoda to the City of Reading for the sum of $1.  Since then the Pagoda has been owned, loved and cared for by the citizens and City of Reading.

The Pagoda is 28 feet (8.5 m) wide, 50 feet (15 m) long, and 72 feet (22 m) tall and located at  98 Duryea Dr. Reading, PA.  After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 anti-Japanese sentiment nearly caused the building to be torn down. Cooler-heads claimed that the building was actually not Japanese, but a Korean Pagoda, so the Pagoda was spared.  (FYI– a Korean Pagoda is usually built entirely out of stone, and is slightly different looking than the Reading Pagoda which is clearly based on a Japanese design. Thank God there was also no internet in 1941. LOL. )

As for the course itself, it was rocky and treacherous, not to mention uphill and muddy at places. There was a little patch of ice easily negotiable just before the finish line.  You just knew it was going to be a rough trail when a priest was running in case someone needed Last Rites.

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The humorous description and cautionary words from the promotional e-mail flier are as follows:

The same thing happened to most of the trails used in the Ugly Mudder. Once, they were bucolic hiking trails used by courting couples, families with kids, dog walkers, etc. And then heavy storms took away their topsoil, lack of use resulted in wild indigenous plants growing across the path, erosion left huge gullies in them that twist ankles and make then unsuitable for biking, etc. And what we have left are trails that are so misshapen and un-navigable that they can ONLY be used for the Ugly Mudder. The Ugly Mudder is a mishmash of ups & downs, fallen logs, debris, rocks & roots, discarded household items, deer poop and urban relics.  To offset this misery, Pretzel City Sports provides a bunch of “perks” at the event including a great post race party with a free breakfast, funny signs on trail to ease your pain, unusual aide stations with equally unusual beverages, cold volunteers that will treat YOU even “colder”, great course markings & other niceties that has made this, on several occasions, one of the 5 largest rustic trail runs in the entire country & the largest East of the Mississippi. In fact, annually, 99.9% of its participants live to run another day so how hard can it be?  Come join the 250-400 people each year that REFUSE to let ankle deep snow, sub-zero temps and a few rocks & roots turn them into mega-weenies, candybutts or, worst of all, “Bachelor/Bachelorette Fans”. LEGAL B.S: You RUN AT YOUR OWN RISK & you alone are responsible for your welfare at all times while racing!! You SHOULD finish this race unscathed other than from frostbite & snot frozen to your face. But if you DO get a boo-boo, crawl to an aide station so we can pick you up in a warm car. You WON’T get lost; it’s marked that well!  But if you STILL manage to do so, ask someone how to Uber to Stokesay Castle; the finish is right next door. Since this is a mid-level challenge, people discouraged from coming are

  1. those under 18 (15-17 yr olds OK with parent present-14 or below MUST have someone run with them)

  2. anyone, other than a current employee, who will miss K-mart and

  3. people who religiously “eat clean” because we ALL need Oreos and  they’re about as far from “clean” as a food group can be. And also DAMN yummy!

In case you’re wondering about the funny signs, I took pictures of them all as I ran. They ran in FOUR series each spaced about 2 miles apart ,and  started with a warning:

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  • WARNING! BE PREPARED FOR…
  • THE SHITTIEST 8.078 MILES
  • YOU’LL EVER RUN (IF YOU CALL THIS RUNNING)

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  • LOTS OF “DOWNHILL” COMING UP
  • AFTER YOU FINISH THIS “RIDGE FROM HELL”

  • THERE HAVE BEEN MORE DEMOCRATS
  • RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT
  • THAN WE HAVE ENTRIES IN OUR CLYDESDALE DIVISION
  • MAY MEAN THAT WE THAT WE HAVE LESS “FULL” PEOPLE IN THESE PARTS
  • THAN WE HAVE PEOPLE “FULL OF THEMSELVES”

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  • WHAT GOES DOWN, MUST COME UP
  • AND WE REALLY MEAN “UP”!

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At the last water station, they also had shots of whisky to anyone who needed calm their nerves after surviving this harrowing experience.

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Yeah it was quite the challenge, and this was only the second trail run I have done. Of the three of us, Gary finished first . Alison twisted her ankle on the rocks half-way, but was able to walk-off the injury and finished ahead of me. I’m a Clydesdale, so I tend to run slower, plus I took pictures. I did NOT finish last, and my pace from my first trail run had improved so I am getting faster which makes me happy. Progress is progress, and slow and steady wins the race!  

The best part was my friends waiting for me at the finish line.

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As always, I wish you success and happiness!

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!

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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.    

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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.

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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!    

FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!

Your health is up to you!

for your own good

(Part one of a two part series on nutrition and exercise)

Life is what you make of it. If you’re fortunate enough to live in the USA, you get to enjoy enormous personal freedoms and rights to pursue your personal happiness. You can have anything you want in this country IF you’re willing to put in the time and work for it. This applies to both your personal wealth, and your person health. These are two sides of the same coin, and the wealthier you become, the better your ability to eat healthier nutritious foods. Your health IS your wealth, and your wealth is your health! You are the ONLY person in charge of YOU. You are responsible for your own life, and this also applies to diet and exercise. There is no shortage of food in this nation, but not everything you can eat is good for you. High quality foods, organic fruits and vegetables, vitamins and supplements can be pricey. Junk food such as soda and candy have nearly no nutritional value and is bad for your health. You should be asking yourself two questions:

1) If cheap ‘JUNK’ food is ‘BAD’ for me, shouldn’t I be investing my money in buying higher quality foodstuffs and nutritional supplements?

 2) If I only get ONE body, shouldn’t I be investing my money in keeping it as healthy as possible?  

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Helps build strong bodies 12 ways!    

Nutrients are substances that provides nourishment essential for growth and the maintenance of life. There are seven major nutrient classes : Carbohydrates (carbs ,or glucose), Lipids (fats), Proteins, Dietary Fiber, Vitamins, Minerals, and Water. Some of these classes can be further subdivided into a list of about 40 essential items, and then assigned specified amounts thereof for each item based upon an individual’s size, age, and gender.  You cannot entirely eliminate ANY of these seven classes and survive for long. Going without eating anything, AKA starvation will kill you in about a month. Likewise going just a week without water will do you in. Eliminating various vitamins and minerals will cause all sorts of health complications  which if left unchecked will shorten your lifespan.

Your body uses carbs and fats for energy. Protein is needed for building lean muscle. The entirety of our daily caloric intake comes from a combination of these essential three nutrients. The other four have virtually zero caloric impact but the body needs these substances to function properly. Your body will store fats as a ‘back-up’ fuel source, while burning carbs (glucose) first, and will store any unused carbs as fat. When glucose and fat stores are depleted, your body will turn to muscle to break it into individual amino acids for energy. Unlike carbohydrates and fat, your body does not store amino acids, which is why muscle breakdown is the only way to release amino acids for fuel. If you’re at the point where your body is breaking down your muscles for fuel, you hit the point where you are in starvation mode. You DO NOT want your muscles breaking down.  Your heart is a muscle.

If you’re uncertain what a carb, or carbohydrate is, the very simple answer is sugar aka glucose. An apple or a piece of broccoli is a carb. So is a candy bar. Obviously one is better than the other for your body, while the tempting JUNK food is sickeningly sweet. Processed, refined sugar is the worst possible carb to put into your body.     

Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

About two thirds of the Earth is covered in water.  Coincidentally the human body is a similar composition, made up of about 60% water. We lose water from our bodies three ways by : urination, sweating, and breathing. Under extreme circumstances, it’s possible for a person to lose more than  a liter of water per hour when exerting themselves in high heat.  Under such conditions it is imperative to replenish that lost liquid and stay hydrated. Failure to do so can result in heat exhaustion, or worse, heat stroke and possible death.  

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Water has ZERO calories and our body needs it to maintain proper functions of our internal organs.  Water is needed to metabolize fats and flush toxins from our system. When we begin to lose water from our body without replenishing it during long periods of exertion and exposure to high temperatures, our body will use its innate intelligence to retain this vital nutrient because it believes we are in STARVATION mode and will do everything to retain water to prevent dehydration. You’ll show sighs of heat exhaustion. So you’ll urinate less and your urine will darken as toxins begin to build in your liver and kidneys.  At a certain point your body will shut down your ability to sweat, and then the your are in serious risk of heat stroke. Sweating is your body’s natural way of cooling.  As you experience heat exhaustion, there will be several signs.

  • Confusion.
  • Dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration).
  • Dizziness.
  • Fainting.
  • Fatigue.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle or abdominal cramps.
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

When you reach the point when your skin gets clammy and you stop sweating, you need to STOP what you are doing immediately and cool down and get hydrated FAST. Heatstroke KILLS.

Pure, clean, cool water is the best thing you can ever drink. Yes, our body can filter out the water from other things we drink like soda, but nothing is better for us than water. Water was good enough for Jesus and it should be good enough for you as well. Water is your body’s best friend, and you can’t make coffee without it! Check back next week for part two IT’S ALL IN THE TIMING  and as always, I wish you success and happiness!

 

TEMPTED?

You are stronger than you think!

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In the USA, the 4th Thursday in November is Thanksgiving Day.  The American holiday of Thanksgiving traces its roots all the way back to 1621, when colonists held a harvest feast with local natives. So the holiday officially originated in what was known as the ‘New World’ at the time. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared an official Thanksgiving day to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. Because some years had a fifth Thursday in November, this date was later changed from the last Thursday to the 4th Thursday by Congress who passed a law on December 26, 1941 fixing the date after a public outcry when President Franklin D Roosevelt kept changing the date from year to year.

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The first official, annual Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated on 6 November 1879.  In 1957 Canadians established their Thanksgiving Day as the 2nd Monday of October, (which is Columbus Day in the US). Thanksgiving may pre-date both the US and Canada as countries, but it began here on the North American continent.  Over the decades other traditions such as the Thanksgiving Parade, football games, and certain foods have evolved with the holiday, and in some instances it has spread to other a few other countries. There are nine other nations besides the US that have a version of Thanksgiving which is associated with giving thanks for the bounty of the annual harvest.  Canada, Norfolk Island, Liberia, and Granada have similar versions of the ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving associated with the USA.  Germany, China, Japan, South Korea, and Japan each have their own unique versions of a ‘thanksgiving day’.    

Financially, the average cost of feeding a family of ten, with leftovers, is under $50.00 according to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual survey.  That of course is ASSUMING you have a sane amount of food, and make most of the food from scratch. Some families go way overboard with with holiday meals.  

The beginning of the holiday season marks an abundance of calorie-laden, rich fattening foods, coupled with less physical activity as people spend more time indoors to avoid the chill of winter, and lessening amounts of daylight. For people struggling with their health and finances, Thanksgiving dinner marks the first half of a double-whammy, as next month they get to do it ‘once more’ with a fattening, expensive Christmas dinner.

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Focus on what’s important.

My first permanent health decision as an adult occurred in college when I made up my mind once and for all to become a vegetarian. This was a lifestyle choice that my late mother could not quite wrap her mind around.  My mother DID NOT COOK.  I kid you not, the woman could burn water.  We ate our holiday meals at my aunt Arleen’s home. Thanksgiving dinner was easy, there were many choices that were ‘meat-free’ on the table. Christmas dinner was not. That first Christmas I refused to eat my aunt’s famous lasagna which she slaved for days to make. She made the sauce from scratch, she shredded the mozzarella by hand on a cheese-grater, she browned Italian sausage and ground beef, boiled noodles, mixed cheeses, and assembled pans of lasagna. Enough to feed everyone, except one resilient vegetarian, who ate cheese pizza while everyone feasted.  Fortunately my aunt understood. The following year, she made a small, special, personal cheese lasagna for her favorite nephew.

So, you have to ask yourself, what’s more important? The food on the table? Your personal health? Or, are the people seated around the table the real reason to celebrate? 

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Choose wisely.

Just  because there are NINE different desserts doesn’t mean you MUST eat each and every one of them.  Heavens to Betsy  if you should miss aunt Betsy’s special cracker pudding.  Or Grandma’s famous jasmine rice pudding with golden raisins and chopped pistachios. Or cousin Ethel’s pecan pie. Believe it or not, some of the more common desserts like pumpkin pie are available year round. The special family dishes that your family worked so hard making are the more important dishes.  The dishes that they made as a token of their love for their family and friends gathered.  Yes, there are signature recipes that are associated with the people we know and love, but the people are the important part of the gathering.  So ignore the more common foods when planning the meal, and highlight the dishes that are unique to your gathering.  If there are still too many choices available, your other option is smaller portions.  Maybe a table spoon of the cranberry relish, or a half-scoop of mashed potatoes.     The key is not to over-eat.

Water is your friend.

So you STILL have a plate of high-calorie fatty foods after making the agonizing choice of passing on the coconut custard pie with whip cream topping and nut meg.  Limit your drink choices to water. A glass of water before, during, and after a meal will fill you up while helping to metabolize fats and flush toxins from your system.  The sparkling juices, sodas (and in some cases alcohol) only add empty calories and will ruin your diet.

Eat S-L-O-W-L-Y

The food may all taste delicious, but it still takes about 20-30 minutes for your brain to register that you have eaten enough food.  By eating your meal at a more reasonable speed, you might discover that you weren’t   really starving to death after all, and you might actually get to participate in the lively dinner chatter around the table.  By giving yourself time to actually eat your food instead of shoveling it in your mouth, you may find that that second helping of whatever is not needed, because you are full.

Keep active

Yes, it’s winter and the days are shorter and colder, but there are still ways to stay active. If you are a runner like myself, you can still find winter 5K races, even on Thanksgiving Day in some cases. You just have to dress appropriately for the weather.  If you don’t like being out in the cold, there’s always the gym.  Many fitness chains have extended holiday hours, or  24hr locations to accommodate the heath conscious individual.  The key to success  in maintaining your healthy lifestyle is to MAINTAIN it.  If you fall off the health-wagon for ONE holiday meal, it’s not the end of the world. That ONE SLICE of pumpkin pie didn’t make you fat, giving up did.  So enjoy the healthy choices you made for your meal, ignore the items you passed on, and celebrate the day with your family and friends. As always I wish you success and happiness!  

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TURNING BACK TIME!

Let’s do the time warp again!

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The idea of turning back time, or speeding ahead into a future time, is quite often the plot of many science fiction stories. UNFORTUNATELY here in the most parts of the USA it’s a reality, and an outdated nuisance.  Twice a year we ‘change the clocks’. Daylight Saving Time begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November  at 2:00 AM when we turn the clocks back one hour to Daylight Standard Time.  To add to the confusion, not all of the USA observes Daylight Saving Time. the states of Arizona and Hawaii ignore it completely, as do all of the US territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands. So in the Autumn, we ‘gain’ an hour when the clocks ‘FALL BACK’, and ‘lose’ an hour in the Spring when the clocks ‘SPRING FORWARD’.  Despite this little ‘FALL BACK, SPRING FORWARD’ mnemonic to help people remember to adjust their clocks  accordingly, many times they still get it wrong, either setting the clock the wrong way for some bizarre reason, or forgetting completely.  It used to also be done at a different time prior to 2007. (Back then, the time shift was the last Sundays in April and October.)

BLAME CANADA

Benjamin Franklin once theorized about the benefits of adjusting the clocks to save daylight in the Winter months when the days are ‘shortened’  in the Northern Hemisphere due to the tilt of the Earth’s axis.  In 1908 Canadians in Thunder Bay Ontario adopted this asinine  practice for the first time. A few years later it was also instituted by the Germans in 1916 to conserve coal during the first World War. It didn’t plague us here in the United States until 1966 when President Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act under the assumption that it would ‘conserve energy’ because if it’s light outside longer, you’ll use the lights in your homes less.

Spread read the confusion

I don’t know of any person who truly believes that changing the clocks is beneficial , but it is observed for better or worse by 70 countries around the globe, each adjusting their times on a slightly different schedule.  If you are one of those people who simply forgets about adjusting the clocks, it’s not so bad in the Fall when you gain that hour, but it’s a nightmare in the Spring when people who are already ‘pressed for time‘ rush out the door only to find out too late that they are an hour late. The poet Charles Bukowski  wrote a poem about this in 1972 titled DAYLIGHT SAVING, and it is a concrete poem shaped like a time card. The poem recounts an event in which the poet went to his day job only to discover the time cards were all pulled and he was late one hour, and had to explain why to his disbelieving supervisor. Fortunately today many of our electronic devices auto adjust themselves to the proper time.

The changing of the artificial clock doesn’t reset the biological clock. Our Circadian rhythm is the 24-hour internal clock that controls sleep-wake cycles as well as metabolism, cognition, and more. It uses clues such as light and darkness to help determine when it’s time to shift into sleep mode and when the body should wake up. When we artificially change the time, our bodies need an adjustment period.  If you’ve ever flown in a plane across several time zones, like from the East Coast of the USA to the West, you probably experienced this disruption by another common term,  jet lag. It can take as little as a day to recover, but some people feel the effects of jet lag for up to several days. Also since animals and very young children do not tell time by a clock, playing with the clocks means that you may get an earlier wake-up call from your pet dog who urgently needs to go outside and ‘never got the memo’.

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Why so S.A.D?

The end of Daylight Saving Time means less natural daylight during the day. When you couple the darkness with cold Winter’s chill, it can lead to a mental state of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D.  This is no laughing matter. People suffering from S.A.D. have a general feeling of less energy and moodiness.  Depression during the holiday seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas and even to a lesser extent New Year’s when you are surrounded by happy merry-makers and an abundance of alcohol results in higher accidental deaths from drunk driving, as well suicides from desperate people who can’t see past their current circumstances.  Life is a cycle. We have good times, and bad times, but things do get better.  In the end, everyone of us is going to die, but it’s important how we live. There is not a person on Earth that can say with absolute certainty that they will be alive tomorrow, so don’t wait for tomorrow. This is why you don’t put off important things, like spending time with friends and family and letting them know you care. This is why it is of the utmost importance to take care of our physical bodies with proper diet and exercise. This is why it is vital to straighten our minds and our souls with  knowledge and wisdom, especially the Gospel found in the Holy scripture contained in the Bible. We can do all things with Christ who strengthens us, and  we can deal with today much easier when we have hope for a better tomorrow. As always, I wish you success and happiness!