For years we have made health a priority and enjoyed its benefits. Many have asked us how we have done this.
While we have bits and pieces of this near on this web site and on Cathy and my joint site, David’s, we have just created a new web site, HealthSimply.org for this specific purpose. As of this writing (December 2014), we have a good outline and a list of books we have found helpful on our journey, exercise options that we have used and recommend, lots of great recipes and more.
Over time, we plan to add detailed book reviews, a listing of health habits, short videos to make health practical.
FYI, Cathy and I posted our 2012 Christmas newsletter on our web site: dcbarfield.org. It includes highlight from our full 2012 and our big anticipation for coming year: we will be grandparents (expected in June).
We have also and updated our page on healthy recipes, adding many new recipes and organizing them better.
Finally, we have also updated our list of favorite at-home exercise routines at http://dbarfield.org/healthdiet/exercise/. The benefits to heart, muscles, brains and overall health are profound and well worth it.
As part of the on-going series on health habits, here are two more we have adopted.
Health Habit 3 –Eat more slowly, increasing enjoyment and eating less
From Eating Well magazine “When eating, it takes 20 minutes for your body to register fullness. And according to a University of Rhode Island study, you can save 70 calories by eating slowly over about half an hour versus eating in under 10 minutes. If you ate slower at every meal, that would translate into losing about two pounds a month. An easy way to slow down your eating is to put your fork down between bites—or consider using chopsticks.”
This one has helped me reduce my previous habit of taking a reasonable portion and then going back for seconds before my digestive system realizes the first portion is on its way. When I slowed down, I found resisting the seconds to be much easier. Now, I take a reasonable portion, and slowly enjoy its flavor, and stop.
Health Habit 4 – Use smaller plates (to help control portions sizes)
From Eating Well magazine “As serving sizes have increased, so have plate sizes—and seeing appropriately sized portions swimming on a giant plate can make you feel like you’re not getting much food. Put your main meal on a 7-inch plate, which is about the size of a salad plate or child-size plate. Choose a 1-cup dessert or cereal bowl instead of a soup bowl, a 6-ounce wineglass rather than a goblet. When you’re eating out, ask for an extra salad plate and transfer the proper-size portions of your food onto it when you’re served your entree. Then ask the waiter to take away and wrap up the rest.”
Again, this one work for me as well. I love ice cream and used to have it regularly in the evening in a bowl. After hearing about the concept, I switched to a small bowl. I eat about half the ice cream but seem to get the same satisfaction. Try it and is if it work for you.
Two years ago, I decided it was time to get off the roller coaster of weight loss and gain and join my wife in making some permanent changes toward improved health. I wrote quite a bit about it in half a year. Despite continuing in that journey, I have written little since.
Recently, my oldest daughter Betsy asked me to contribute to a series she is starting on her blog called “50 habits of skinny people.” So I am using this as a motivation to write more regularly on habits we have adopted toward good health. Here goes.
Health Habit 1- Decide to adopt health habits
The first “habit” I would like to focus on is the fact that healthy people eat and live differently “habitually” then those who do not. If you are reading this as a person who wants to be healthier and esp. thinner, the answer is not so much in making temporary changes in what you eat (dieting), but to adopt new and long-term ways of eating and living that are more healthful.
It is no secret that Americans “diet” like no other culture and yet, as a people we continue to gain weight. Why? Because we change for a while and then return to our old ways, leading us back to the condition in which we started.
My wife and I have both been on the weight roller coaster before. Eight years ago, my wife lost 35 pounds and she has kept it off. Two years ago, I took off 20 pounds and have kept it off. The difference this time was adopting lasting changes to our diet and finding ways to add activity to our lifestyles.
So as you read about habits we have adopted to improve our health, I encourage you to give them serious consideration as potential ways to improve yours. Adopt those habits you can “live” with. Small changes that are applied consistently over years can make a big difference (as long as you don’t use them as an excuse for more excess elsewhere).
Don’t believe those that say you cannot lose weight and keep it off. It is not true; you can, but only by making changes in the way you think and what you do. Keep reading.
The goal is improved health. Improved health has meant more energy, improved sleep, a better outlook on life, more physical capability, freedom from medications, less illness, and the promise of not only a longer life but a better quality one as well.
Don’t let anyone tell you there is no sacrifice, it is. But it is worth it. Read on.
Health Habit 2 – Walk more
There are two principle ingredients to improved health: eating better and being more active.
There are many ways to be more active. I will discuss the benefits of a regular exercise program in future habits but let’s start with just walking more. Over the last two years I have returned to jogging, but I started with walking.
I walk every day, twice a day, with our two dogs: Bingley and Bear. We walk no matter what the weather (ok, if the wind chills is -30, we shorten it a bit but we still go). We walk a mile in the morning and another mile about supper time. It does them good and it does me good. Another way I walk regularly is by parking about 7 minutes from my office (where parking on the street is available) rather than in the parking garage across the street. It saves me the $60/month for parking and gives me a bit more walking time.
In addition to improving health, walking gives me time to pray, unwind from a busy day, or give consideration to some matter that needs some time away from other distractions. My wife just got me an iPod for Christmas. So now the menu of options while walking includes listening to books on tape.
The year has been a remarkable full one both personally and professionally. Obviously the marriage of our youngest daughter (after doing the other two in less than a year before) was the big personal event. Work is always busy as Kansas Chief Engineer of the Division of Water Resources but add a major drought, a new governor’s major initiative on our Ogallala Aquifer over-development , a U.S. Supreme Court lawsuit and more, and you have one busy man.
I will get back to finishing my series on investing. But again, not until I have a bit of recovery time after November 18.
Finally, in addition to eating well, the exercise program is going well, alternating between running and two Men’s Health exercise videos) More on this later as well.
Surprisingly my last post on “my progress toward health” was last June. It was titled: “Initial goals accomplished, heading to second base.” Baseball is not likely the best illustration for a journey to health as health is not something accomplished in 4 steps but as something gained ever a lifetime of good habits.
From June though Betsy’s wedding in October and beyond, I continued to make good progress. But as life sometimes does, November and December brought some regression and struggles. It started with significant time on the road and lots of holiday eating (too much chocolate around; a real problem to me). Then I got the shingles; and as I recovered from that, I got a flu. Through all of this, my exercise routine become very hit or miss (mostly miss). So over the weeks I gained about 7 or 8 pounds and dropped some toning.
But since the first of the year, my health and habits have been renewed, as I re-started regular exercise and better eating, I have dropped much of the weight gained and the tone is returning.
Running again (for now at least). Last spring I started running again (I did some running in my early 30’s but quit after an injury). When I finally got to my initial goal of 3 miles (5 kilometer), I started experiencing some pain in my knee again. Rather then give up as I did 20+ years ago, I decided to have it examined by a specialist. The doctor did a series of x-rays but did not see anything wrong. He gave me some strengthening exercises to do, which I did over late summer and early fall; only to have the knee pain return when I got up to 3 miles again. I was convinced it was bad running form or perhaps a weakness in a set of muscles around the knee. In a final attempt to make running work, I called the doctor’s office to see if I could see a physical therapist who could work with me. I have been doing that. He found my leg a bit longer than the other and has given me a small pad to put in one shoe. And he found that my hamstrings are very tight and has given me some specific stretches and strengthening exercises to do. We will see. I am re-building my mileage now. It seems I have trouble when I get to 3 miles.
It is good to be on the road to health. It is well worth the effort. I see so many of my peers on another road.
On February 17, 2010, I started this second section of my blog, announcing my health goals for the period between then and my June 28th birthday, when I turn 55 (and just before my daughters July 2nd wedding):
Get to a good weight for me in a enduring, healthful way
Improve my all-around physical condition (including endurance/cardio-vascular health, strength, flexibility, and balance)
More specifically, to drop from a body mass index of 25 to a more healthy 22
While I did not announce it at the time (as I wanted to see how I would progress first), I also was hoping I could run a 5k (5 kilometer or 3 miles) run as well
I am pleased to say that this past week I both ran 5 kilometers (on my own, not in an organized race) and got to this weight goal of a BMI of 22. I have done it the old fashion way: persistence in regular exercise, eating better, and eating less. I highly recommend this approach. It takes time, patience and perseverance, but I hope and pray that it will be lead to lasting results, not temporary ones.
I encourage you as well to find a way/time to exercise regularly and learn to eat more slowly and less (and better). For me, it has meant an early morning routine; it was the only time I could be consistent. I am thankful to Cathy for her planning and preparing healthy meals.
I had hoped to write more here on what I have been reading, which has helped me to learn and persevere. But since spring break, this has not happened. While my/our lives our always full, this period has been more challenging than normal: work as been very full, three daughters engaged, seeking to fulfill long overdue commitments to get some things done around at house, etc, etc, etc. So this blog has had to take a back seat to these other higher priorities. But I am hopeful, in the coming weeks, life will move from chaos back to busy.
My journey to improved health is not over. To use a baseball analogy, I feel like I am rounding first base, on my way to second base. Here are my second base goals:
Keep the weight off for 6 months (my third base goals will extend this further).
Drop 5-7 more pounds (while I feel much better, I am not quite satisfied)
Continue to build strength, adding a bit more variety in my workouts
Continue work on cardio-vascular endurance (and actually run in a 5k race)
Put more of what I have read/am reading and learned/am learning on this blog.
Yes, it is true: I have not posted here in six weeks. So don’t go looking for postings for weeks 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11; they are not there.
But I have NOT fallen off the truck of my journey toward improved health. There have been no postings as life has been very full, at both work and home. See, for example, my last posting on three daughters getting engaged over the last three months.
Even so, I have been exercising consistently, eating well, and thus making slow but steady progress on my healthy journey. I continue reading as well.
Exercise – I continue:
My daily walks with the dogs (have I mentioned I am walking three dogs now: our Bingley; Megan adopted an abandoned dog she calls Bear; and we are watching Cathy’s sisters dog, Dolly, for 5 months),
4 days a week of strengthening exercises,
2 days a week of a longer walk/jog.
About a month ago I starting to jog again. I have been toying with the idea of running a 5 kilometer run before Amy’s wedding. So I am picking up the training pace. The next two weeks will show if I will be ready. Stay tuned.
Eating well – In my last posting I mentioned the Eating Well Diet (and book by that title) and the Eating Well Magazine. Over recent weeks, Cathy and I have tried out three of the recipes and enjoyed all three. Each of them are delicious, nutritious, take about 30 minutes to prepare, are low calorie, and relatively satisfying. And the recipes are available on their web site for free. What more could you want? I esp. liked the Chicken Tortilla Soup. Go immediately to our blog for links to these (and previously posted recipes).
We just received our first issue of Eating Well Magazine and will be trying more recipes over the coming weeks and will send more recommendations. We have also discovered another great source of recipes and nutritional advice: Cooking Light Magazine (and their web site).
Weight – I recently dropped through one of my interim weight goals: to reach my weight when I took the job of chief engineer (as I gained about 15 pounds after that). So I am the lightest I have been since at least the early 1990’s. My BMI stands at 22.6. I am about 5 pounds from the initial weight goal I set. I feel and look better (but I have not decided yet whether I will stop at this goal and work to drop a few more pounds).
Learning/Reading – While the pace has slowed, I continue to read on the topic and, as significantly, to synthesize what I am reading. I will report more on this in coming weeks as part of my catch-up.
Week 6: Recommend reading on diet and nutrition, March 21, 2010
Cathy and I just got back from a relaxing 4 days on vacation from spring break. In addition to sleeping in, walks and exercise, watching movies and basketball, going out to eat and shopping, we each brought a project or two that we want to do but have trouble doing at home. My project was some reading on diet and nutrition.
But, noting that EDBH was published almost 10 years ago, I recently decided to take a bit of time to again briefly survey what is available on the topic to make sure I am getting the best advice today. Additionally, this time around I wanted more help implementing change, rather than focusing on increased understanding.
My search was not exhaustive; I am sure there are other good books out there. I went to see if Willett had done anything more recent than EDBH, I checked out recommendations of my nutritionist friend, I looked at some of Amazon’s recommendations, and I make a trip to the public library to see the books for myself. After looking them over during spring break, below is a very brief summary of those I am purchasing. You will hear more from these books and resources later.
I was encouraged to find there is a significant consensus on what a good diet is (of course I stayed away from fad diets). I was even more encouraged that there are increasingly a number of well written books to help us implement what the science is saying and that the diets include great and satisfying foods.
What I am purchasing (links to Amazon):
Eat, Drink, and Weigh Less: A Flexible and Delicious Way to Shrink Your Waist Without Going Hungry by Mollie Katzen and Walter Willett – The book includes a very readable summary of what science is saying in nine “turning points” for good nutrition (you will get this list on a subsequent post), a way to track your “body score” to encourage you to improve your diet habits, and 3 weeks worth of meal plans to lose weight with enjoyable and doable recipes. There is also 1 week worth of menu plans that are easier to do, help eating out, etc. Highly recommended.
The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan by Barbara Rolls and Robert Barnett. Recommended by my nutritionist friend and the American Dietetic Association. It is another good book on basics of good nutrition and helping you to implement those ideas. What is new here, that I have not seen elsewhere, is a focus on being satisfied with the quantity of food you are getting. They do this by helping you to make good choices and modifying recipes to reduce calorie density. By doing so, you can eat more, are more satisfied, and yet can control or lose weight. The results are surprisingly satisfying and doable. More later.
The EatingWell Diet: The University-Tested VTrim Weight-Loss Program by Dr. Jean Harvey-Berino – This book again includes very good nutritional information and a solid plan for implementing it. We do not plan to follow their plan per se but will use some of the recipes. They are very attractively laid out in the book. In doing a bit more research, I found that the recipes are taken from Eating Well Magazine. So I am subscribing to it as well. You might check out their web site!