Thursday, October 30, 2008

Losing Weight & Keeping it Off!

Margaret always reads health & fitness magazines, watches shows like Biggest Loser and she says that it inspires her. I never understood why a woman in such great shape could be inspired by all of this, seems like she is the one doing the inspiring. She explained to me that by constantly paying attention to wellness it reinforces what you are doing everyday and it also offers the opportunity to find new gem every now and then..... That is why I think this Project has worked so well for me. The time with Chris and my other test pilots has been a huge inspiration to me and it keeps me focused. I have signed up for daily e-mails like, "Losing It with Jillian Michaels" and "Everyday Health" to keep me focused and in hopes of finding some gems. Today was a reinforcing moment from "Everyday Health" that I thought I would share, I have cut an excerpt and placed it below. I have also included a link to it and to Jillian's website if you like daily gems!

"No Excuses!"

Health Tip: Lose Weight, and Keep it Off
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10/28/2008 12:00:00 AM
(HealthDay News) -- Losing extra weight is the first step to better health. It's also important to keep those extra pounds from creeping back.
The American Heart Association offers these suggestions:
Figure out what works for you -- what motivates you, which rewards you prefer, and which long-term habits you can maintain.
Be realistic about how much you can lose and how long it will take.
Pay attention to your calorie intake versus calories burned.
Use a pedometer to track your how much you walk each day.
Make a healthy shopping list -- and stick to it.
There's no need to weigh yourself every day -- once weekly is fine. Try measuring inches lost, instead of pounds.
Keep a record of the foods you eat, total calories, and exercise.
Plan ahead for special occasions such as holidays, and make up for the extra eating before and after.
Last Reviewed 10/28/2008 Last Updated 10/28/2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Just Sit......Again!

Below is an article I received today from about the positive effects of mediation on your health. I guess Chris could say I told you so! :) I still do not understand why my ego has such a tough time letting go and sitting still. I guess I should not be that surprised, I have had trouble sitting still my whole life! Just ask Sister Mary Lucy, my first grade teacher. Anyway, the attached article is justifies and supports so much of what our "Yoga Sherpa" has been trying to tell us. Enjoy, and then.......Just Sit!

Meditation for Health Purposes

Meditation for health purposes is a mind-body practice in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). There are many types of meditation, most of which originated in ancient religious and spiritual traditions. Generally, a person who is meditating uses certain techniques, such as focusing attention (for example, on a word, an object, or the breath); a specific posture; and an open attitude toward distracting thoughts and emotions. Meditation can be practiced for various reasons — for example, with an intent to increase physical relaxation, mental calmness, and psychological balance; to cope with one or more diseases and conditions; and for overall wellness.

Key Points

People practice meditation for a number of health-related purposes.
It is not fully known what changes occur in the body during meditation; whether they influence health; and, if so, how. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and some other components of the National Institutes of Health are sponsoring studies to find out more about meditation's effects, how it works, and what diseases and conditions it may be most helpful for.

Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

What Meditation Is

The term meditation refers to a group of techniques, most of which started in Eastern religious or spiritual traditions. These techniques have been used by many different cultures throughout the world for thousands of years. Today, many people use meditation outside of its traditional religious or cultural settings, for health and wellness purposes.

In meditation, a person learns to focus his attention and suspend the stream of thoughts that normally occupy the mind. This practice is believed to result in a state of greater physical relaxation, mental calmness, and psychological balance. Practicing meditation can change how a person relates to the flow of emotions and thoughts in the mind.Most types of meditation have four elements in common:

A quiet location. Many meditators prefer a quiet place with as few distractions as possible. This can be particularly helpful for beginners. People who have been practicing meditation for a longer period of time sometimes develop the ability to meditate in public places, like waiting rooms or buses.

A specific, comfortable posture. Depending on the type being practiced, meditation can be done while sitting, lying down, standing, walking, or in other positions.
A focus of attention. Focusing one's attention is usually a part of meditation. For example, the meditator may focus on a mantra (a specially chosen word or set of words), an object, or the breath.

An open attitude. Having an open attitude during meditation means letting distractions come and go naturally without stopping to think about them. When distracting or wandering thoughts occur, they are not suppressed; instead, the meditator gently brings attention back to the focus. In some types of meditation, the meditator learns to observe the rising and falling of thoughts and emotions as they spontaneously occur.

Meditation is practiced both on its own and as a component of some other therapies, such as yoga, tai chi, and qi gong. This Backgrounder focuses on meditation practiced on its own.
Meditation for Health Purposes Meditation used as CAM is a type of mind-body medicine (one of the four domains, or areas of knowledge, in CAM). Generally, mind-body medicine focuses on:
The interactions among the brain, the rest of the body, the mind, and behavior
The ways in which emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and behavioral factors can directly affect health People use meditation for various health problems, such as:




Mood and self-esteem problems



Physical or emotional symptoms that may be associated with chronic illnesses and their treatment, such as:

Cardiovascular (heart) disease



Meditation is also used for overall wellness.

A large national survey on Americans' use of CAM, released in 2004, found that nearly 8 percent of the participants had used meditation specifically for health reasons during the year before the survey.

Examples of Meditation

Mindfulness meditation and the Transcendental Meditation technique (also known as TM) are two common approaches to meditation. They are also two types of meditation being studied in NCCAM-sponsored research projects.

Mindfulness meditation originated in Buddhism. It is based on the concept of being mindful, or having an increased awareness and total acceptance of the present. While meditating, the meditator is taught to bring all her attention to the sensation of the flow of the breath in and out of the body. The intent might be described as focusing attention on what is being experienced, without reacting to or judging that experience. This is seen as helping the meditator learn to experience thoughts and emotions in normal daily life with greater balance and acceptance.
TM originated in the Vedic tradition in India. It is a type of meditation that uses a mantra (a word, sound, or phrase repeated silently) to prevent distracting thoughts from entering the mind. The intent of TM might be described as allowing the mind to settle into a quieter state and the body into a state of deep rest. This is seen as ultimately leading to a state of relaxed alertness.

Looking at How Meditation May Work

Practicing meditation has been shown to induce some changes in the body, such as changes in the body's "fight or flight" response. The system responsible for this response is the autonomic nervous system (sometimes called the involuntary nervous system). It regulates many organs and muscles, including functions such as the heartbeat, sweating, breathing, and digestion, and does so automatically. The autonomic nervous system is divided into two major parts:
The sympathetic nervous system helps mobilize the body for action. When a person is under stress, it produces the fight-or-flight response: the heart rate and breathing rate go up, for example, the blood vessels narrow (restricting the flow of blood), and muscles tighten.
The parasympathetic nervous system creates what some call the "rest and digest" response. This system's responses oppose those of the sympathetic nervous system. For example, it causes the heart rate and breathing rate to slow down, the blood vessels to dilate (improving blood flow), and activity to increase in many parts of the digestive tract.
While scientists are studying whether meditation may afford meaningful health benefits, they are also looking at how it may do so. One way some types of meditation might work is by reducing activity in the sympathetic nervous system and increasing activity in the parasympathetic nervous system.

Scientific research is using sophisticated tools to learn more about what goes on in the brain and the rest of the body during meditation, and diseases or conditions for which meditation might be useful. There is still much to learn in these areas. One avenue of research is looking at whether meditation is associated with significant changes in brain function. A number of researchers believe that these changes account for many of meditation's effects.
Side Effects and Risks

Meditation is generally safe. There have been a small number of reports that intensive meditation could cause or worsen symptoms in people who have certain psychiatric problems, but this question has not been fully researched. Individuals who are aware of an underlying psychiatric disorder and want to start meditation should speak with a mental health professional before doing so.Any person who is interested in using meditation as CAM should consider the following:

Meditation should never delay the time it takes you to see your health care provider about having a medical problem diagnosed or treated, and it should not be used as the only treatment without first consulting your provider.

Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

If you are interested in learning meditation, ask about the training and experience of the instructor (see also NCCAM's publication "Selecting a CAM Practitioner").
Find out whether there have been any research studies published on meditation for the health condition you are interested in.

NCCAM-Supported Research Some recent studies supported by NCCAM have been investigating:

The potential effectiveness of the Transcendental Meditation technique to prevent and treat heart disease

Mindfulness-based stress reduction to relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and, in a different study, chronic lower back pain

What happens to the brain's activity and structures during Buddhist insight meditation (which includes mindfulness) in a study that uses a brain scan called fMRI
The long-term impact of meditation on basic emotional and cognitive functions and on mechanisms in the brain that are involved in these functions

Last Updated: 05/14/2008

Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine:

Monday, October 13, 2008

This Stuff Really Works!!!

So why are we all in this project? To lose weight? To be a better runner? To be a better Athlete? To have some place to go on Saturday Morning so we don't sleep in all day or eat cereal and watch cartoons with the kiddos?

All of these are good reasons (except the getting up on Saturday, I still can't believe that I look forward to an hour and half Butt Kicking on Saturday morning that requires me getting on the road by 7:15 AM, but I do!) Weight loss was probably my key motivator that got me to make changes in my life. Those of you that know me well know that I did lose a lot of weight and that is great. As of this morning I am 46 pounds lighter than where I started and 19 pounds away from the weight I would like to hit, and that is a great feeling. I went from 42 or 44 waist pants (depending on the cut) to 36 or 38 waist pants. I went from a 52 in a suit that didn't look the best, to a 48 Athletic Fit in a suit that I had to have the pants and coat tailored down to fit my waist. All GREAT stuff, but on Friday I got the Best Stuff Yet.



Near the end of the project I scheduled a Physical for the end of the project to see my progress. Before I started the project, my Blood pressure was in the Pre-Hyper Tension range and moving up. On Friday, my BP was 104/62. For 37 years old that is pretty awesome! That puts me into the category with Children and Athletes after only 3 months of focus. My Cholesterol was at 204 prior to the Project. Not awful but heading that direction. After the project, 176!

Thank you so much to Chris, my project co-test pilots that made the journey such an enriching experience for me. Thanks so Much to my wife Margaret for supporting me, encouraging me and sacrificing to make sure I could have the time and resources I needed to be a success! My Project is not over yet, but the last 19 pounds I want to lose will be a lot easier due to the great foundation I was able to lay with all of my Project friends! I feel like I just got voted of the Biggest Loser, so America the Next time you see me I will be 19 pounds lighter than I am today, but much more importantly, I will be 19 pounds Healthier than I am Today!

Just remember, there is no way to know for sure how many years you can add to your life, but I guarantee this has added an enormous amount of Life to My Years! (Kind of Stole that Line from Margaret, my original health & fitness inspiration)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


It is amazing the tricks the ego plays on us! The project just ended, Chris is still blogging, I have everyone's e-mail addresses, yet I can't help feeling like the guy in the old Twilight Zone episode. He wakes up in New York and he is the only person anywhere, he runs down the street shouting, "where is everybody?" It just feels different. It is harder to focus, my workout schedule has been more challenging, my knee hurts, my back hurts, etc.

I know it is my mind, but it is still a challenge that I must overcome! No Excuses! Right? I am curious if I am the only person feeling this way? Any Suggestions?