Category Archives: Health

New health site launched

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, 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.

I encourage you to check it out.




Christmas letter and updated recipe and exercise pages

FYI, Cathy and I posted our 2012 Christmas newsletter  on our web site:  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  The benefits to heart, muscles, brains and overall health are profound and well worth it.

Next time: a bit about my work.

2012 Arkansas River Compact meeting
2012 Arkansas River Compact meeting

The First 20 Minutes, a book review

Driven by a family history of heart disease and diabetes and a job that is both high stress and low in physical activity, I have made exercise a regular  part of my life. I started with 20 minutes a day and gradually built from there. Even though a regular part of my life, it is not always easy to get up and get it done. Is it worth it? How much exercise do I need? What type of exercise do I need? Not easy questions with all the competing information out there.

The First 20 Minutes, by Gretchen Reynolds, tackles these important questions. Ms. Reynolds seeks to provide today’s best answers to these questions by reviewing what science is currently telling us about exercise. She reviews what science says about its benefits, how much we should do, and what type we should do. And she uncovers a number of surprises uncovered by science in recent year.

In doing so, she has written a book that has helped me hone my exercise program and encourages me to keep it up.

While I think the book is worth buying and reading in its entirety, the greatest benefits will be gained in reading first chapter of the book (which may take more than 20 minutes).

While I hope to write more specifics later, here are some of the big ideas and specifics I got from the book:

  • We get significant benefits to our longevity from regular activity and/or exercise, esp. from “the first 20 minutes”.  So, “Move More” .
  • There are profound additional benefits to our level of fitness for going beyond the first 20 minutes, and esp. with moderate intensity aerobic and strength training workouts. Recommended amounts of exercise for fitness is 150 minutes low-intensity exercise OR 75 weekly minutes of more vigorous aerobic exercise plus weight training twice a week.  You can split them almost any way you want. I am doing the later (bolded) approach.
  • For the more fitness and athletic-minded, you must push yourself. Yes there is a point where additional activity yields little in the way of benefits to health.
  • High-intensity internal training provides a way to health benefits in even less time. Recent studies indicate there is little value in stretching (“flexibility is overrated”) nor extended warm-ups.  Instead brief dynamic stretching is more effective preparation.
  • Diet and exercise – The book confirmed my notion that there is no pill (or powder) you can take to get in shape or that will contribute significantly to fitness. You just need to eat well.
  • Drink when you are thirsty; don’t over do it.
  • In regard to the relationship between of exercise and weight loss: if you are exercising to lose weight, you are likely to be disappointed. Instead,  exercise for the health benefits, not for weight loss. Research however, does find that regular exercise benefits weight control as most people who keep weight off, exercise regularly.
  • In regard to strength training and workouts, the book provides two primary lessons to me:
  1. Our form matters. For example many damage their backs by doing core training, and esp.  crunches, incorrectly. I do my strength exercises with a DVD with a trainer who leads a workout consistent with best practices. (see my recommendations).
  2. It is good to take care in activities to prevent injury as you are much more likely to get injured if you have been injured before.
  • Exercise also provides very significant benefits to our mind and mood. The chapter is definitely an encouragement to me to exercise when I don’t want to (for more on this see my review on Spark, the Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain)

Again, there is much more and I hope in the coming weeks to provide more specifics from the book. In the mean time, you might pick up a copy from the library and read at least the first chapter.

My current workout: the Supreme 90 day

My journey to health of the last 3 years has included regular exercise, including both toning and cardio (mostly running with the dogs). The toning has progressed from easy to more and more challenging (see for what I have used in the past as well as what Cathy has and is using).

But variety and changing up once in a while is good.

One day Cathy came across this system of 10 separate toning routines at our local grocery store for under $10. She took the chance that I could get that much value from it (you can get it via Amazon still for under $20.) If you want a solid, challenging, toning program you can do at home, with variety and minimum equipment, this set is a great value.

You don’t necessary need to keep up with the “athletes/models” on the video. As the instructor says over and over, challenge yourself with what you can handle in terms of weight and pace.

Below is a summary of the 10 CDs and how I use the system. I use 7 of the 10 CD’s, alternating with running (or using our elliptical in the winter).

Most of the workouts can be done in about 30 minutes; a couple of them are 40 minutes.

All the equipment you need is free weights. I current use 8, 10, and 15 pound sets. I may eventually get 20s. Women are challenged to get beyond light weights.  Occasionally the routines use a large Swiss ball, but they provide alternatives if you do not have one.

The day will come when I will likely move on to something else, but for now, this is a great place for me. I have been reading more on exercise lately and these workouts seem consistent with current best practices in exercise.

Here are the 10 DVDs and their time outlines.

  • Warmup (4:19): The warmup includes ab work (the core) & is (at first) like a mini-workout. At over 4 minutes, all of the DVDs except Tabatha Inferno has this warmup.
  • Cool-down (5:57): These are stretches. All of the 10 DVDs have the same cool-down.

1. Chest & Back (32:30 total)
Workout (22:14): At over 22 minutes, they move fast on this first DVD.

3. Tabata Inferno (43:42 total)
Workout (37:45): This is long and tough but I like it. It includes moderate and tough aerobics, with some weight training. The exercises include jumping variations, core work, and the circuits don’t seem to end.  When I am in a hurry, I leave out the last 5 minutes or so.

4. Shoulders & Arms (43:05 total)
Workout (32:49).  This one makes my triceps very sore for a few days. It is getting a bit better as time goes on.

5. Cardio Challenge (41:22 total)
Workout (31:06): A good, challenging, cardio workout, alternating 30 seconds of aerobics, followed by 30 seconds of rest, followed by 30 seconds of using moderate weights in an aerobic fashion, followed by 30 seconds of rest, and then repeat the same pattern.

6. Legs (33:17 total)
Workout (22:51): This is not only leg work, including a fair amount of ab (core) work.

7. Total Body (33:33 total)
Workout (23:17). As the name implies, a good all-around workout.

8. Core Dynamics (28:22 total)
Workout (18:06): At just over 18 minutes, this is the shortest workout.

CD’s I do not use (and my substitutes)

2. Ultimate Ball (40:49 total) [I use Core Dynamics instead]
Workout (30:33): This uses the large Swiss ball. I just did it without the ball.

9. Back & Bi’s (56:38 total) [I use Shoulder/Arms instead]
Workout (46:22): This is the longest workout, at over 46 minutes.

10. Chest, Shoulders, & Tri’s (45:18 total) [I use Chest/Back instead]
Workout (34:52):

HealthHabits: eat slow, use small plates

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.

Habits of improved health 1-2

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.

Heading out for a walk with the dogs

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.

Life is chaos but at least we are healthy

Wow,  I knew I had been remiss in writing on my blog but I did not it was this bad.

First, the reason for tonight’s post: to put in a link to a posting on Cathy and my blog ( related to a cookbook we just found and would recommend: Eating Well for Two (a great cookbook for empty nesters like us). See

Speaking of being empty nesters, I thought I had done a blog update on the June 18, 2011 marriage of our youngest daughter Megan to Brandon Hash. Wrong. Expect it in the near future.

But maybe not before November 18, the date my expert report is due in Kansas’ U.S. Supreme Court against Nebraska.

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.

Back to work on my expert report.

Health journey: progress, regression and renewal

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.

The above is from my on-going series on my health journey. For an index and summary, see

Initial goals accomplished, heading to second base

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.

Thanks for sharing in my journey.


Progress continues on the Journey, though unreported (week 12)

The race out the door

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.

Heading out for a walk with the dogs

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.