Diet vs. Exercise

Diet versus Exercise for weight lossDear GreenSmoothieGirl: I know that a great diet coupled with lots of exercise is the healthiest approach for all of us. Having said this, I just listened to a guy on the radio say he is a gym rat and is in excellent physical shape for his age (approaching 50,) but he’s a junk food king. Which is worse: Great diet, little or no exercise, OR so-so diet, but great cardio and muscle workouts. Happy Mother’s Day! –Patti

Answer:  It’s a funny question, and the answer may not even be helpful to anyone, but it will entertain me to answer it! Obviously it’s a terrible idea to have a bad diet OR live a sedentary lifestyle. But your guess about what I’m going to say is right: I think diet is even more important.

80-20-ruleWe do it all day long, eat food. It is so foundational. It’s the gas in the gas tank. When it’s hybridized, genetically modified, stripped of fiber and nutrition, or even made of nothing but chemicals (i.e. soda), your body doesn’t even have good fuel to work with, in a cardio or weight workout. Fuel is what builds every cell. With your weight, food is 80% and exercise is 20%. While I think both are critically important, nutrient density in your diet is probably the #1 most important issue for your health, and your emotional well-being. Stress management / attitude / ability to metabolize and move forward after negative events is the #2 most important factor affecting your overall health. Exercise is likely #3!

 

 

Karla wins a 12 Steps manual and shares her 57-old athlete story!

good newsRight as I got home from my first trip on my 2014 book tour, I got this high-vibration letter from Karla in Arizona–hope you enjoy it!

Karla, I can relate to so much of this. I had plantar fasciitis, too, for nearly a year. This was devastating, as a competitive tennis player, until I got on top of it. I sat out while my team went to six-state Districts, which almost killed me! I’ve been symptom free for 3 years, even though my doc demanded I get steroid shots (I refused, and am glad I did). Plus, like you, I took up cycling, which gave me a new hobby/sport I totally LOVE, even now that I’m way past plantar fasciitis.

Eating an anti-inflammatory diet is key! No hybridized gluten grains, and minimal or no animal proteins, dairy, and sugar. What I did is eat my 12 Steps to Whole Foods diet, looking for LOTS of greens, and alkaline fruits and veggies, as the base of my pyramid. Your EVERY CELL will thank you. Inflammation is optional!

Here’s the letter from Karla, who is living life out loud, at the age of 59—so inspiring!

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl

6EF9879DB1D199012D7D6398A6051600I attended your presentation in Mesa last night with my husband, Rod. I was the very lucky winner of the 12 Steps Course Manual! I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled we both were to receive this valuable tool. The excited shriek you heard when read our number was genuine! THANK YOU!!

We love our green smoothies, and your website has inspired and taught us during our journey. We refer those who ask about what we are doing to your website. You have been our “guru.” We thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us. And for the amazing gift we won—we are so excited to incorporate more healthy eating and improve our health even more!

Last year, we decided to cut way back on meat and dairy and try to eat a plant-based diet. Rod has read the China Study, and we watched Food Inc., Forks over Knives, and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, all of which are amazing documentaries on health and food. We have an amazing green smoothie story!

Two years ago, I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis—a tendon inflammation in the arch that goes up the heel. It felt like someone stuck a red hot poker up my heel every morning when I would step out of bed. Rod and I were avid hikers and this was devastating, as walking at all was very painful. The podiatrist said, “Ride a bike.”

That was life-changing advice. We were riding 10 – 20 miles at a time and discovered a network of bike trails here in the Phoenix area. We started green smoothies, and bought a Blendtec.

life-life-is-beautiful-quotes-text-favim-com-511717We eventually began training for an 85-mile race—I was turning into an athlete at age 57! Last year we did two CENTURY rides!

Last year, Rod and I rode 5,000 miles, and we sacrificed a bike ride in 70 degree weather to come and hear you speak last night!  Cycling has been a wonderful hobby that we enjoy together, and green smoothies are our fuel every day.

Every day is amazing. I feel better than I have felt in over a decade! And I will turn 59 in June. People ask me what I am doing—how does my skin look so good? I don’t wear any foundation makeup, so I don’t hide my age spots and wrinkles, but my skin glows and that is what people see.

Love to you,

Karla LaMunyon, Peoria, AZ

 

15 Ways I Optimize Health and Energy Every Day—Besides Good Food! (part 3 of 4)

physical touch6. GET REGULAR PHYSICAL TOUCH.

Sex is an important part of a healthy life, and people with good, monogamous sexual relationships are more likely to have good emotional and physical health. But part of the reason why is due to the fact that their need for physical touch is being met.

Everyone has read about how babies and young children need touch almost as much as they need food and water. It is actually critical to our survival. Babies in orphanages who are never touched wither away, do not develop normally, and sometimes die or have severe personality disorders.

One way that I have met this need since becoming single 5 years ago, is with massage. (That’s right, I’m not afraid to admit it. When I’m not in an intimate relationship, I PAY for appropriate physical touch! It accomplishes some of the same benefits.)

My daughters aren’t huggers, but luckily, my sons are. I constantly hug and love on my boys. And, a little, on my girls, when they let me. Intimacy, for women, is accomplished far more through touch, than through sexual release. Men who figure this out early have stronger marriages.

Give and Serve7. GIVE AND SERVE EVERY DAY.

To people who least expect it. When no one is looking. To people who don’t deserve it from you. And especially people who do! Expect nothing in return. Little is more satisfying and more conducive to your OWN good health, than service. Serve when it’s inconvenient, when you don’t feel like it, when you’re tired. Not always—it’s okay to take care of you!—but sometimes.

Smile and wave at someone who flips you off, when you’re driving. Love better, love more, find new ways to love. Observe the ways your family and friends want to be loved, and meet them there–rather than giving love your own preferred way. Spend a whole day in service. Find a janitor or a server or a bus driver and tell them how much you appreciate their work.

Acknowledge your innate selfishness. (Me, too.) And then feel the full measure of your humanity—what differentiates us from animals—when you do the right thing for someone else even though you had 20 pressing things on your to-do list and the personal sacrifice is significant.

sweat9. BREAK A SWEAT EVERY DAY.

Maybe you’re like me and it doesn’t feel like a workout unless you’ve done it for 60 minutes. Or maybe you spend only 20 minutes in high-intensity workout like my very fit friend Dr. Jared Nielsen. Whatever method you wish! As the actor Matthew McConaghey said, whom I always quote, “break a sweat every day!”

Take one or two days off, per week, but not more. Do something you like, at least some of the time. (I admit, I put my time in, running, which I don’t particularly enjoy, and on the boring stationery bike in hotel gyms. That’s what books, and iPods, are for! But I also do things I love, like cycling and tennis and Zumba.)

The body wants to sweat, it wants to move, it wants to be outdoors. Breaking a sweat is key to getting on top of mood disorders. Sex and exercise yield the best endorphins—and even single people can get those endorphins with the latter activity, anytime!

daylight-benefits10. GET IN THE SUN.

There is no substitute. Take your Vitamin D3 in the winter, great idea—but we still need sunshine. Human beings were used to getting regular sunshine until the past couple of generations. With the shift away from an agricultural society, populations, in general,  now spend the majority of their time indoors.

Turns out, it is a misconception that people should stay out of the sun and/or slather themselves with sunscreen. In fact, the #1 correlate for cancer risk is how far from the Equator you are! The further away, the less sun, the higher the cancer risk. High Vitamin D levels actually correlate to low cancer risk.

Lack of sunshine is also a perfect recipe for depression. In the last two decades, a diagnosis of “Seasonal Affective Disorder” is practically an epidemic. That’s because people who live far from the Equator, with long, overcast winters, are living in conditions that few humans ever have—totally indoors. Our biology demands sunshine and everything that comes with it—hands in the black dirt, grounding us, breathing clean air, and feeling the warm sun on our skin. Don’t wash that Vitamin D off when you come inside. It takes hours for it to internalize, as hormone, and work with calcium to build bone.

K’Lynne comes to my house…with K-Mart pants

Last year in Portland, I barely got to spend any time with someone I think is pretty special. In fact, she and her “before and after” photos, and her story, are in the latest 12 Steps to Whole Foods manual.

She lives in a tiny, one-stoplight town. No health food store. But she took 12 Steps to heart, changed her diet radically, and lost 100 POUNDS in less than a year. She’s a school lunch lady and a mom to four children, including two college students. She’s my age exactly.

She wrote on her blog about how, as a shy, very soft-spoken person, she drove 4.5 hours with her friends to hear me speak in Portland last year and then very nearly didn’t come up to talk to me. She did, though, and I asked her questions in front of 150 people. Details on that from last year, HERE.

She wrote me after that, “I just have to tell you the response to me being on your blog has been amazing, this last week has been mind blowing. All kinds of people emailing me who are exactly how I was and want advice. I tell them what I did and am doing….which is following your program and eating health and exercising.”

There’s really no other way, is there?

We had to tear out of Portland like bats out of Hades to make it to our gig in Seattle later that day. I finally got my chance to talk with K’Lynne at more length this week, sitting on my porch.

It’s all on camera and we’ll release that later.

Turns out, the day we filmed her, July 17, was her 25th wedding anniversary with her delightful, supportive husband, Chuck.

I asked him on camera to tell me how he felt about K’Lynne. He got emotional.  He said he was so proud of her. So thankful to her. Her choices impacted his life for the better.

I’ve been waiting for the visit from K’Lynne Wagner of Phoenix, Oregon, to tell me more about what it’s like to shed 100 pounds.

Because there are lots of ways to lose weight. And ditch her meds and get her health back.

But there’s just one way to get healthy, and it absolutely has to include a whole-foods diet.

I don’t want to get into whether that should include organic, grass-fed meat…..if you can afford that, that’s between you and your relationship with animals, it’s not my axe to grind. Or what percentage of carbs/fats/proteins you eat, in your whole-foods diet. Or whether or not a little “cheating” with processed food is allowed……you can experiment and discover your own “truth.”

All I care about it that you shift to whole foods, mostly plants!

That’s my core value. It DOES work for everybody. (With variations like the examples and debates above, and lots of individual variety.) And that core foundation is all I’m interested in teaching.

K’Lynne says that green smoothies were a huge part of her shift. She said, “I tried Step 1 in the program, I liked it, so I went on to Step 2, and pretty soon I was doing it all. I would read the manual out loud to Chuck. I was always taking it places, and always reading it.”

Chuck has dropped 20 lbs. by ditching the bacon-and-eggs breakfast in favor of unsweetened oatmeal, fruit, and green smoothie. His wife makes him a salad for lunch, and for dinner he eats lots of healthy stuff K’Lynne makes.

Don’t we all love compliant husbands? We’re happy to do what makes THEM happy—-just indulge us and eat what we feed you!

K’Lynne is off her blood pressure meds and has perfectly healthy cardiovascular biomarkers now. Both she and Chuck are at a healthy weight. How exciting—that we can make change at any age. They are both loving the energy they say changes EVERYTHING in life.

K’Lynne’s counsel to those who have 100 lbs. to lose? Just stay in today. Think positively and make good choices TODAY. Because you really CAN do it. One day at a time.

I gave her the latest, greatest 12 Steps to Whole Foods manual, and I had fun looking through her old copy at the recipes she’d marked as her favorites. We both love Pink Hummus Quesadillas and others.

She talked about how she sees dishes in restaurants that she used to love, and she momentarily feels the pull of addiction…..but then she realizes she actually doesn’t really want those foods any more. Kristin has said the same thing to me. I agree. I love chocolate and dessert. But honestly? The vast majority of it, most of the time, just isn’t interesting any more.

K’Lynne told me about going to Cheesecake Factory this week while on vacation, and ordering the most fabulous vegetarian burger made from faro (an Egyptian grain) and beets. It was so good that Chuck wished he had it, instead of his shrimp tacos.

I’d emailed K’Lynne asking if she wanted to bring any clothes she used to wear. She came with a pair of jeans in her old size, with a  K-Mart tag attached. She said:

“I threw those pants away. Because I’m never going back there.” After she left my house, she and Chuck headed to visit family in St. George and Vegas. They stopped at K-Mart and returned the pants.

Are you inspired? I am!

Green Smoothie Testimonials, Part 15

Well, my friends, I’m off to Anaheim for the Natural Products Expo, to see what’s new and cool in raw, whole foods and natural healing.

While I’m gone, it’s time for another round of . . . are you excited? . . . I am! . . .

GREEN SMOOTHIE TESTIMONIALS.

I’ll do just a few days’ worth. Enough for a morale boost. Not so much that you’re bored. (I get excited about green smoothies again every time I read what y’all have sent me! So check in here every day.)

If you’re new and want to contribute your testimonial, write us at support123 [at] greensmoothiegirl.com with whatever part of your name you’re willing to have publicized on this blog.

Here’s a good one I received from Eddie:

“I started doing smoothies twice a day (breakfast and lunch), July 14, 2008. At the time, I had no idea what to expect, as I was just trying this on a whim. After about two weeks, I noticed I lost about 5 pounds. I decided to continue this process, and switching up my dinners to be cooked, mostly vegetarian. Another 2-3 weeks passed by and I lost another 5 pounds. Something was working… I suspect it was the combination of green smoothies and going mostly vegetarian.

Well, along my journey, I started seeing books about raw food and 80-10-10, and just a whole bunch of information. I decided to try doing raw, and for the most part I have been able to maintain about 90-95% raw since I started doing this. Every week that passed I noticed I kept losing 2.5 pounds a week, for an eventual total loss so far of about 47 pounds. About 3 months into my journey, I read 80-10-10 Diet by Douglas Graham, and have implemented a lot of his concepts in my daily routines, so most of my daily intake consists of fruits and vegetables, with very small amounts of nuts/seeds. I noticed that with gourmet raw using high content fat (ie. nuts and seeds), I would do alright but I truly thrived doing 80-10-10.

As far as exercise goes, even before I started smoothies, I was doing twice a week at the gym doing a cycle/spin class, and I would occasionally do some light weights at home. I have noticed that my cycle/spin classes, I have been able to maintain extreme high energy levels and not gas out when on 80-10-10. I also noticed that when doing raw-gourmet (with higher fat), that I would not be as energized. Another thing I should note, my muscle recovery times have improved dramatically with 80-10-10– gone are the days of recovery, instead my muscle recovery occurs in about 15-20 hours, ready to hit up more exercise the next day.

I used to have a sinus headache about once a week. Those are all gone. I sleep much better, and noticed that I can go on my day with less sleep and still have a ton of energy. My daily diet still consists of two smoothies a day (one breakfast and one lunch) and my typical dinner meal varies, but it is typically in line with 80-10-10. It took me about 6 months to lose nearly 50 pounds, but the whole process was pretty easy. It is just a matter of committing your mind, and making great habits and breaking the bad ones.”

–Eddie Yee

What my research says about how green smoothies change lives!

I once blogged 20 different astonishing ways my health improved when I began drinking green smoothies and eating a whole-foods diet.   Here it is: What Changed, When We Switched To Whole Foods, Part 2

But I wanted to get more scientific when I wrote The Green Smoothies Diet and find out precisely what a newbie can expect!

The results of my poll of 175 regular green smoothie drinkers yielded some interesting results that suggest quite definitively that it’s a 10-minute habit worth adopting!   To participate in the questionnaire, one had to be drinking green smoothies for at least 30 days, a pint a day for 4 days a week.   Many were drinking more, up to my recommended 1 quart daily.

The vast majority, or 97 percent, said green smoothies noticeably improved their health or quality of life.   Wow!

Very exciting to me is the fact that 84 percent of those drinking green smoothies are so enthusiastic about the positive health benefits that they’ve told others about or taught them the habit!

These are the positive health effects people experience, listed in order of their frequency among the research respondents:

85.4 percent experience more energy.

79.2 percent experience improved digestion (more regular and/or complete bowel movements, no straining, soft/formed stool, etc.).

65 percent experience fewer cravings for sweets and processed foods.

52.3 percent experience a more positive, stable mood.

51 percent experience an improvement in skin tone, or fewer blemishes

50 percent experience weight loss.   The average reported pounds lost is 17.3 lbs.!

(Keep in mind when considering this very impressive statistic that some of the respondents had been drinking green smoothies only 30 days, and some of them did not have any weight to lose!

48.5 percent experience an increased desire to exercise.

44.6 percent experience improved sleep (need less of it, decreased insomnia, more alert in the mornings, etc.).

41.5 percent feel less stressed out.

40 percent experience blood sugar stabilization.

39 percent experience people telling them they look better.

35 percent say their fingernails are stronger or grow faster.

26 percent say their hair is shinier or their dandruff gone.

18.5 percent experience a decrease in PMS symptoms.   (Consider that some of the respondents in the survey are not females of menstruating age.)

17 percent report an improved sex drive.

Other positive health benefits reported by survey respondents include these:

7 people said: Arthritis symptoms/pain gone or reduced

3 people said: Hyperthyroid condition improved (reduced or gone off meds)

2 people said: Seasonal allergies gone or decreased

2 people said: Reduced asthma symptoms

2 people said: Migraines gone or reduced by 80 percent

2 people said: Acne improved or gone

2 people said: Eczema or dry skin cleared

2 people said: Gray hair returned to original color

Decreased blood pressure

No more hypertension

Was able to go off cholesterol meds

Was able to go off Prilosec

Haven’t gotten sick in a year like I always do

Moles disappeared

Deep facial wrinkles “barely noticeable”

Less nasal congestion

Lump on leg getting smaller

Liver spots fading

Tendonitis gone

Muscle soreness gone

Hypoglycemia improved

No more bloating, gas, indigestion, constipation

Avoided a hysterectomy, lifelong menstrual problems returned to normal

Easier to breastfeed

Don’t sunburn any more

Gallstones gone

Depression symptoms gone

Lifelong bad breath gone in two weeks

Ended coffee addiction

Just feel better

The risks of a new green smoothie habit are limited to an 18.5 percent chance of a short-term, uncomfortable cleansing reaction that include the following symptoms:

headaches, skin breakouts, diarrhea, nausea, bloating, intestinal gas, cramps, constipation, vertigo, dizziness, fainting, lethargy or weakness, runny nose, mucous in the back of the throat, liver pain, mood swings, depression, emotional crisis

The top six benefits that people experience when starting a green smoothie habit are, in order, more energy, improved digestion, fewer cravings for sweets and processed food, a more positive/stable mood, improved skin, and weight loss.

It’s hard to look at this data without being compelled to give green smoothies a try!

Jump in with us and let us know here what your experience is after 30 days:

 

To Your Health,

–Robyn Openshaw

p.s.   Join us in 12 Steps to Whole Foods to get on the path to achieve all these health benefits. Step 1 is all about the why and how of green smoothies!

Are Europeans healthier than we are?

So as you can see, Europeans have fast food.   McD’s is found in 10 locations in the very hip and cosmopolitan city of Barcelona, for instance.   They don’t have nearly as many chains or locations as we do, though.

 

I have a weird little game I played in airports and train stations all over Europe and in the U.S.   I counted groups of 100 people and keep a tally of how many of them are overweight/obese, just to compare countries.   I don’t do this to be mean-spirited, nor do I think it’s the most statistically sound experiment ever.   People in airports are probably leaving out the oldest citizens, for instance, creating something less ideal than a true random sample, although this should be uniformly true everywhere, so the results are skewed across the board.   And I can’t ferret out the tourists from the natives.   (However, very few Americans are traveling in Europe now to skew my results, with the weak dollar, I found.)   This is what I found very consistently (and I repeated the experiment over and over to see if any of my samples of 100 are outliers):

 

United States:   over 50% are overweight, some obese (this is not new information to you)

France, Spain, Italy:   about 15% are overweight

England:   about 20% are overweight

 

Italians in northern Italy are big meat eaters (the southern Italy diet, famed as “Mediterranean,” is much more plant based).   Everywhere you drive in the top half of the country, corn fields are growing–not to feed the people, but to feed the livestock (and ethanol refineries, I’m sure).   The French really do eat a lot of white bread products.   They have junk food accessible everywhere.   Why, then, are the vast majority of them thin and relatively fit?   These are my theories.

 

Where Europeans have Americans (and Canadians and Aussies) beat:

They have portions under  control, they eat more vegetables, and they exercise more (lots of walking and bike riding going on)

 

Where Americans have the Euros beat:

Less smoking  

Europeans are certainly struggling with high levels of heart disease and cancer.   Their smoking rate is incredible, whereas that’s the one marker that the U.S. has seen strong gains: our smoking rate has gone down consistently during the past two decades.

 

Honestly, I think part of the portion control is achieved simply because they CAN’T AFFORD to eat more!   Overuse of anything is rather socially taboo (those tiny little Smart Cars are everywhere), and a can of Coke is $4-$5 (about 3 euros or so) at any gas station.   And with exorbitant fuel costs, the Europeans long ago started riding bikes and walking.   In Italy, all the cars are tiny.   I never saw a single Suburban or Expedition, or even a Honda Pilot like mine.   No wonder the birth rate is negative in that country–the cars won’t fit any children!   Roads are narrow and would never allow the big honkin’ cars we drive here.   And the shops don’t have parking–I never saw a Walmart or its trademark small-city-sized parking lot, though I’m sure Walmart exists  somewhere in  Europe.

I’m buying a scooter next spring to reduce my usage of nonrenewable energy.   (I already drive the highest-mpg mid-size SUV on the market.)   I’m going to learn to buy a bag or two of groceries and put them in my scooter on my way home from the gym or work every day or two, rather than the usual bigger shopping trips.   My inlaws can’t believe I’m going to ride to the university 20 mins. away on a scooter, but I’m going to try it.

Today, the first day of school, my children are walking to school, and they’ve been informed that’s our New Normal.   We’ve always been pretty green, with the plant-based diet, gardening, composting, avoiding packaged foods, and eating weeds.   But I’m inspired to get GREENER.    Do you have two garbage cans going to the curb each week rather than just one?   If so,  you might want to consider doing the same.   What’s cool is when you can send your one garbage can out every OTHER week because you use so little that comes in boxes, cans, and bottles.

 

Water intoxication . . . part 5 of 6 on WATER

Dr. B and other experts say you should drink half your weight in ounces (that’s 8 glasses of water for a 128 lb. person), with ¼ tsp. unrefined salt dissolved in water for every quart you drink.

Of course, the most important fact is that most people are chronically dehydrated and need to drink more.   Clear or very light colored urine shows good hydration, and the darker your urine, the more dehydrated you are (first thing in the morning, most of us are dehydrated).   Small children, the elderly, and athletes are at highest risk for dehydration, because we lose 10-15 cups of fluids daily through elimination, sweat, and breathing.   The biggest factor increasing that amount is exercise–but altitude and temperature are other variables to consider.

You can, in fact, drink too much water to achieve water intoxication.   This usually happens only to athletes, since your kidneys can’t process water during exercise, so competitive athletes must balance sodium and water intake.   Thirteen percent of distance runners whose weight was measured before and after running and their water consumption studied, drank too much water, causing abnormally or dangerously low blood sodium levels.

Dissolve about ½ tsp. of Original Crystal Himalayan Salt (or RealSalt would be my second choice) in your water first thing in the morning to balance water and sodium levels for best hydroelectric conductivity in your body.

Get in the habit of taking your favorite reusable water bottle with you everywhere you go.   Find spaces in your routine where you learn to always drink a glass or two.   For instance, drink your 16 oz. water bottle all the way home from work in the car, before you prepare dinner.

Eating right while traveling internationally . . . part 3

On the cruise, of 841 guests, fewer than 5 percent were Americans.   The vast majority were Europeans and Aussies, more than 50 percent of the ship from England.   (I know, I know–you’re mocking me for how much I love weird statistics, I get it.)

My friend Shari and I were each told once that we lack “diplomacy” by a Brit–because we were so hyper and excited to be there.   Okay okay, fine, it’s because we are loud Americans!  We got off in 8 port cities to tour, and people paid about $100 USD for each tour.   I was astonished, repeatedly, that the Europeans with us routinely STAYED ON THE TOUR BUS at really cool sites, like Fort Santiago in Manila, full of scary dungeons and a real-life moat, where the national hero Jose Rizal took his last, incarcerated steps before being shot by a firing squad.

Why would these folks–literally a majority of the bus–not even get off the bus at many of the sites?   Wait for it.   It’s certainly not because the tour guides were bad, because they were great!  At Marble Mountain in Da Nang, Vietnam, everyone got out to buy marble statuettes in the store where incredible artisans make gorgeous things from the marble mined there.   But they got back on the bus, or dropped out after the first flight of stairs, when we climbed 156 really steep steps of the mountain to an incredible Buddhist temple.   The tour guide at the top asked if we wanted to do more climbing to see even more cool stuff, and the three of us jumped at the chance.   An unbelievable view, and this temple in a deep cave where American bombs had opened a skylight as people huddled down there during the war.

Of a full busload, those who went on could be counted on two hands.   (The ones I cheerleaded on, saying, “You can do it!!” were up there with us, and I felt bad when it came time to go back DOWN the stairs–British Maureen, in her 60’s, was such a trouper.   My friend Shari and I let her lean on both our shoulders to get down, least we could do since I was the leader of the pep squad who conned her up the stairs!)  So here’s the kicker.   The vast majority of these people who paid a mint for an amazing vacation and the MISSED IT were unable to walk short distances because of . . . a lifetime of poor lifestyle choices.   I would estimate that more than 85 percent of the folks on the ship (most of them retired) were overweight, many of them obese.

On display daily were plates full of bacon and eggs for breakfast, fish and chips for dinner, lots of coffee and booze, too much toffee pudding, lots of cigarette smoking—and raw vegetables and fruits too rarely.  I feel bad for them.   They missed some cool stuff!   My tennis-pro friend Shari and my daughter Libby and I pumped up those stairs and would’ve wanted more except for the 90 percent humidity (Vietnam is the hottest place I’ve ever been in my life).

Taking 12 steps towards a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle isn’t necessarily so you can live forever. (Everybody will die sometime, yada yada, heard it a million times.)   It’s so that whatever years you DO live are great ones, full of vitality, learning, and positive energy.   In our case on this trip, finding cool buys in open-air markets, stomping through a rain forest, snorkeling in the South China Sea, boating through a mangrove looking for monkeys and crocs.   There’s so much to life, and it doesn’t have to end because of obesity, heart disease, and the other maladies currently destroying life for so many close to us.   If you’re in that boat, you can get out!   Degenerative disease CAN be reversed.   What I teach in my book and on this site is HOW.

This one hilarious lady named Jean in her 70s, was dancing, crawling around, jumping up and down, and staying up till 2 a.m.–she was thin, fit, and a total RIOT–everyone on the ship loved her.   I want to go out like a light bulb, like Jean, not a dimmer switch like the folks on the tour bus!  Go make a big quart of green smoothie for yourself, and put a quart in the fridge for tomorrow, while you’re feeling motivated!  

setting a bad example

Yesterday I went running on the jr. high school track by my home, which I often do.   I saw the most astonishing thing—and unfortunately, it’s the second time I’ve seen it.   The kids came out to play flag football, followed slowly by their P.E. teacher.   Think about your own P.E. teacher when you were a kid.   This one was not like yours, I can almost guarantee you.   He had a kid carrying a chair for him, and he proceeded to sit in it, on the football field, and remain seated throughout the breakout games of football.   He was obese and had difficulty walking up to the field.

Last year, I  saw an obese female P.E. teacher at the same school do the same thing (but the kids were running sprints).    About that same time, I sat on the founding board of a charter high school, and we were looking to hire a  P.E. teacher.   An experienced applicant came to interview us who confessed to severe cardiac disease and was clearly going to be the chair-sitting variety of teacher/coach.   After he left, I informed my colleagues that I do not want to hire an obese P.E. teacher.   They seemed offended and one told me that is “discriminatory.”

I said, “If we were hiring an English teacher who hasn’t read the classics and can’t write, I’d ‘discriminate’ against her, too.   I’m going to resist hiring a math teacher who can’t calculate algebraic equations.   So why is it too much to ask that the P.E. teacher be able to jog a lap, or do a layup?”

We are setting such a bad example for our kids.   If they look around them, they could easily get the idea that life is more or less over by the age of 40 for the majority of us.   How many of their teachers (P.E. or otherwise) are teaching from their chairs?   This is a travesty.   Even if we’re okay with our virtually chair-bound lives limiting us from doing much of anything fun by the time we hit 40, we should make massive lifestyle changes even for just the ONE REASON of setting a better example.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here.   You moms and dads reading this who are willing to buck the larger culture, you are CHANGING THE WORLD for the better, one green smoothie at a time!   Obesity and heart disease will be a thing of the past when we return to a whole-foods diet, and we get out and enjoy moving around.