Tips for Healthy Eating While Working From Home

You are what you eat.  I’m sure you heard that numerous times in your life.  March is National Nutrition Month by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  If you’ve been working from home or sheltering in place, your eating habits may not be as healthy as they used to be last year.  Without dressing up for work, moving around much, and easy access to your kitchen for random snacking, the “WFH 15” may have invaded your waistline.

Photo by Katerina Holmes on Pexels.com

Fear not!  March is the perfect month to regain control of your eating habits, and it can taste good too!  Week 1 encourages you to eat a variety of nutritious foods daily.  Try a new fruit or vegetable this week.  Raw is always the healthiest way and gives you the true flavor.  Pick fruits and vegetables with different colors because they have different antioxidants and nutrition profiles.  Also drink plenty of water, not soft-drinks and juices.  If you haven’t read a nutrition label before, read a few on the items you normally buy, could be eye opening!

Week 2 is about planning your meals.  From my experience, this is where people fall off the wagon.  When you don’t know what your next meal is, you make impulse choices which usually aren’t good!  You’re in a rush and find yourself starving!  The downhill spiral begins and it’s hard to stop.  Plan healthier meals with your family for everyone to learn new ideas and get on board with healthy lifestyle choices.  It doesn’t have to suck when one person is on a “diet” and can’t eat the same as others in the house.  By planning and cooking healthier, good tasting food, everyone enjoys together and reaps the benefits.

Photo by Sean Hayes on Pexels.com

Week 3 is taking your planning from the previous week and learning new skills to make delicious dishes that are good for you.  Try using fresh herbs, or new spices on meat, chicken, and fish that you already cook.  Stay away from breaded and fried, all you are tasting are breadcrumbs and flower anyway, not the protein you are frying.  You may even feel better and not have a stomach-ache after eating grilled and backed items instead of fried.  Wasting food truly is a sin in many ways.  Make smaller portions or reuse the leftovers in different dishes if you’re sick of the same taste.  Freeze what you don’t use after three days in the fridge if possible.  Your wallet will thank you also because a dollar can be stretched when you repurpose food items for other dishes.  How do you think gumbo and jambalaya became popular?

Week 4 is a good time to make an appointment with a Registered Dietician Nutritionist (RDN).  An RDN is educated on how to work with any special diseases and conditions you have.  They can also give more detailed guidance for weight loss and sports performance than a personal trainer or Corrective Exercise Specialist as myself.  Knowledge truly Is power and combining an RDN’s knowledge with a fitness professional’s knowledge gives you the total package for maximizing and enjoying a healthy, active lifestyle.

You can’t out lift, run, or cycle a bad diet.  Poor refueling choices have negative effects on everything you do and feel physically.  Being sedentary multiplies your bad choices to increase health risk factors like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke.  Those are three of the top five killers of Americans annually, and many could be prevented.  Add to it COVID-19 as a risk factor, and you know who has the most negative effects and chance of death, people who are obese.  Approximately 1/3 of all adult Americans are considered obese by the CDC, this does not include the millions that are overweight and headed to obesity.

For more information on nutrition and healthy eating choices, go to myplate.gov, cdc.gov, and eatright.org.

3 Tips to Reduce Hypertension for American Heart Month

Have you heard of someone being heart dead and still living?  If so, you have witnessed a true miracle!  You have heard of people being brain dead while their heart still beats via life support.  Once the ticker stops ticking, life is over.

February is American Heart Month endorsed by the CDC and the American Heart Association.  Valentine’s Day may be about pleasing the emotional heart of your significant other, making sure they take care of their biological heart is of the utmost importance first. 

According to the CDC, around 500,000 people every year die from heart disease, which makes it the top killer of Americans.  Stroke is number five, and often a result of hypertension, which also is the cause of heart disease.  Let’s talk hypertension, shall we?  Hypertension affects half of the adult population in the United States, yet only 25% have it under control.  That’s not a lot of people considering the amount it affects daily.  Hypertension is blood pressure higher than 130/80.  Do you know your average blood pressure?

The major problem with hypertension is most Americans either don’t know they have it or ignore it.  Of the 108 million people who have hypertension, 1 in 3 do not treat it, and 3 in 4 leave it uncontrolled.  Where do you fall in this classification?

Photo by Thirdman on Pexels.com

Hypertension is a lifestyle disease caused by obesity factors and poor choices in eating, compounded by a lack of exercise.  It’s not rocket science to understand the percentages with 30% or more, depending on your area, classified as obese, to see why hypertension is America’s ongoing pandemic.  Drive-by Canes or Popeye’s, and you’ll see how this pandemic literally feeds itself to death.

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

COVID-19 severe risk factors are also directly connected to obesity and those with heart disease.  To be honest, the math adds up on why the virus has killed so many people.  Unfortunately, it’s not news to tell someone to stop eating fried and processed foods and get off the couch or die.  I’m telling you now, change your eating and exercise habits to avoid being part of the 500,000 heart disease deaths annually.

Three easy ways to improve your heart and reduce hypertension risk:

  • Eat fried foods once per week or less aka fast-food chains
  • Elevate your heart rate to 65% of its max for 30 minutes, 3x per week
  • Park within the last 3 spots furthest away from the door when at the grocery store

Try my suggestions or use them as ideas that fit your likes and habits.  Besides some genetic factors, you are the one in control of your heart’s health.  Don’t be the victim of your own poor choices that land you in the hospital and on medications that could be 100% prevented.

The first step to any positive change is acknowledgment you need to make that change.  Do not beat yourself up over past years of treating your body badly.  Make the decision NOW to institute small edits into your normal eating and physical activity plans.  Small changes add up to big results at the end of the week and month.  Other positive side effects are weight loss, increased energy, and higher self-confidence.

How can you implement these ideas?

  • Use a fitness tracker for elevating your heart rate, not just step
  • Use a calorie tracker for your food intake (math is hard and this is a basic math problem)
  • Join an online support group with similar goals

If you need more assistance, please email me at athleteinthegameoflife@gmail.com.  I’m more than happy to give a few suggestions.  Also, go to my website and download my free report on back to register to win a signed copy of my book The Athlete in the Game of Life.

The Side Effects of Sitting – An Excerpt from my book Athlete in the Game of Life

The following is an excerpt from my new book, The Athlete in the Game of Life, available on Amazon:

The Side Effects of Sitting

Just because you think you’re doing nothing doesn’t mean your body agrees.

For instance, some part of your body may have started hurting you on a regular basis. Could be your back, your neck, your hips, or another place entirely. And maybe you can’t get that part of your body to stop hurting. You ice it, get massages and try to avoid putting stress on it…and yet, it’s still bugging you constantly, despite the fact that you’re not overly active in your day-to-day life and you’re exercising regularly.

First of all, the place where it hurts you? It could be completely caused by another part of your body entirely. For example, knee pain could be the result of dysfunction or impairment at the hip, ankle or both. The term for this is “regional interdependence,” a relatively new idea conceived by therapists and rehabilitation professionals as a way to describe how one part of your body depends on the proper functioning of another part. 

Second of all, our lives — and our physical health — have been transformed by technology in ways we still don’t understand completely. Our work and home environments are filled to the brim with tech gadgets, such as computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones and even a good old-fashioned TV set or two — and our eyes are glued to the screens of those gadgets for hours every day. Our jobs depend on it and our personal lives often revolve around it.

Result? As many as a quarter of Americans engage in no leisure-time activity at all, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This creates a “kinetic chain” in our bodies that is less prepared to adapt and recover from times when we do engage in activity, leading to increased injury rates. (We’ll get more into detail on that chain in a later chapter).

Photo by Robert Nagy on Pexels.com

This negative affect on our physicality directly impacts what happens to our bodies 20 years down the road. As I noted, we grow less flexible and mobile with our movements. When we do play that occasional game of tennis or golf, our motions become stiffer and more limited. A sitting position also puts huge stress on your back muscles, neck, and spine, especially if you slouch. There’s also the issue of postural decline. When you’re leaning over to look at your phone or tablet, your body does what’s called “remodeling.” It adapts to that position and locks it in as your natural state — and that can create some serious pain, because your body simply wasn’t built to be in that leaned-over position for long periods of time. For example, you’re probably sitting as you read this book — and that caused your body to automatically mold into what you feel is “normal.”

We also end up putting on weight — nobody gains 40 pounds in two weeks. You gain that much by putting on a couple month-to-month until you wake up and discover you’ve put on that 40 over time. Too much sitting can also raise your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. None of those conditions, obviously, are good things.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Finally, there’s one more part of you that can be seriously affected — and that’s your mind. At present, sitting and staring at screens can actually boost your anxiety levels. In terms of the future, the damage can get much more serious. According to the National Institutes of Health, a lack of physical activity can boost your chances of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and cognitive decline.

So…if you think just sitting around means you can’t get hurt, well, you should probably have another think. Because chronic pain can easily result from that lifestyle, along with all the other conditions listed above.

To learn more about preventing injuries, increasing mobility, reducing joint pain, and getting more out of life, please go to my website, mattpeale.com.  I offer group and personal instruction via Zoom weekly sessions to help your tennis, golf, workouts, and lifestyle hobbies.  Download my free report, 3 Tips to Reduce Back Pain Your Doctor Doesn’t Know.  Guaranteed to open your eyes and give you a new direction on staying healthy and active you didn’t know possible!

Tips to Avoid Boredom Eating & Weight Gain During COVID Shutdown

It’s 8:00PM on a weeknight, usually I’m cleaning up dinner after getting home from working my last client at 7:00PM.  That was before the mass shutdown, now at 8:00PM dinner was done two hours ago and I’m hunting around for a snack or fighting off the urge to have a beer.  Does this sound familiar?

It takes just over 60 days to cement in a new habit, good or bad.  The shutdown is quickly reaching that magical number.  Are you like me and sifting through the pantry and fridge at odd times during this zombie apocalypse?  The answer is probably yes, you are.  And how do you stop yourself?

Being a personal trainer also means being a billboard for healthy, active lifestyle.  Some people think personal trainers aren’t human and can say no to sweets, salty treats, or booze without a problem.  We don’t workout much and just appear looking like Greek gods.  Sadly, we are human also and experience the same emotions and require the same amount of hard work to reach and maintain our fitness levels.  Struggling through these odd couple months to not become a drunken sloth is difficult.  I like having cocktails much as the next guy and sneaking in chips or other unhealthy foods.  The accountability isn’t there with seeing clients regularly and keeping a set schedule.  Plus, physical activity levels are not where they used to be.  All of these ingredients can make a fit person fluffy!

How do we fight the fluffy?  The origins begin the same way they did before the shutdown, at the grocery store.  What you buy you eat, simple enough.  The problem is a mindset of using this time like it’s a weeklong vacation.  Sure, you buy more sweets and unhealthy snacks because it’s only a week and you want to enjoy life without the regular hassles.  Unfortunately, this vacation is dragging into months and your shopping habits are still in vacation mode.  IF you purchase regular items on a regular schedule, there aren’t poor choices to make when you rummage around. Processed-foods

Weight gain and weight loss are still math equations, yes math is hard.  To do the math on proteins, carbs, and fats, click my website for more info.  You can eat to much of healthy foods because they have calories, just more nutrient dense than a bag of chips and cookies.  Sometimes when we’re hungry, it really is dehydration and we need a few glasses of water.  Drinking a few glasses of water gives you a fuller feeling without the calories.  Try that strategy when you’re bored and looking for snacks.  Buy some flavored mineral water to give you a different taste and carbonation like a soda.  These also have zero or little calories and do the job well, I know from experience!

The best strategy for later at night snacking is going to bed.  Gastric emptying is a fact and happens 3-4 hours after a meal.  If it’s 10:00PM and you ate dinner at 6:30PM, getting hungry again is natural.  Likely you don’t have any specific reason to be awake longer and are watching shows that will be around for decades to come or reading a book that will be on your nightstand in the morning.  Save yourself the hassle and boredom, turn off the lights and go to sleep! Wake up tomorrow hungry and eat breakfast.  Eat a bigger breakfast if you like because you have all day to use those calories.  Taper off the portion sizes as the day goes on.

The last strategy is forgiveness.  When you have a bad eating day, no problem.  It’s just ONE day not a lifetime!  Make sure one day doesn’t lead into multiple days, that’s where you get in trouble.  Forgive yourself for one day and make tomorrow normal, not excessive in making up for past sins.  The body evens out, I promise.  It’s easy to let our minds run away with crazy thoughts.  Reign it in and dedicate to change tomorrow, then repeat the process.  20 pounds isn’t gained or lost in a day!

Obesity & Diabetes, the Highest Risk Factors Mainstream Media Doesn’t Mention for COVID-19

I live in a suburb of New Orleans, which is a hot spot for COVID-19.  In an interview with Dr. Gee from LSU Healthcare, and a town hall call with Rep. Steve Scalise this week, both experts stated diabetes is the main cause of spread in New Orleans and Louisiana.  Dr. Gee went on to also say that it’s specifically type 2 diabetes from obesity in our population being the main culprit.  Overall, Louisiana does not have a large percentage of elderly population, we are in the top three of obese states.  The mainstream media does not discuss these details, and instead focuses on washing your hands and staying socially distant.

Obesity.  It’s in the health news regularly and is the cause of many health risk factors like diabetes and heart disease.  Obesity is a lifestyle dis-ease and treatable by moderating food intake and increasing physical activity.  Unfortunately, obesity is so prevalent with more than 1/3 of Americans on their way to achieving it, not many are paying attention to its devastating effects on the spread of COVID-19.  Type 2 diabetes is a result of obesity and people being overweight, fact.  People with type 2 diabetes are more susceptible to viral infections, such as Coronavirus, with weakened immune systems, than those in the normal weight categories who don’t have diabetes.

The fact of all new strains of viral infections is they will run their course regardless.  Some like COVD-19, are more dangerous than others and require different precautions and treatments.  To add more facts and controversy people do not want to acknowledge, your lifestyle is the main contributor to the infection and morality rate.  How you deal with these times regarding your food intake and exercise has a massive effect on the duration and intensity of the virus.  Being socially distant does not mean stop physical activity and lay around stuffing your face on the couch.  Continuing regular exercise, physical activity, and eating in moderation, increases your chance of reducing spread and survival.  No medications necessary.

I’m not saying to abandon your state and federal guidelines about COVID-19.  You can help yourself, your family, and your community by remaining or starting healthier habits.  Your immune system is strongest when you get at least six, preferably seven, hours of sleep each night, in addition to being active and watching what you eat.  Sound familiar?  Yes, these are CDC guidelines for 365 days a year.  When you follow them, the curve can remain more a speed bump than spike for everyone.  Not to mention heart disease and many forms of cancer can have reduced risks from a healthy lifestyle.

Unfortunately, healthy lifestyle news and updates don’t make much national and local nightly news shows.  Instead, they focus on high drama and worst-case scenarios to attract advertising and ratings.  As humans, we prefer that to common sense in our tv watching.  Here’s a suggestion, turn off the high drama, and get around the block with your family.  Governors are encouraging their citizens to get outside, while remaining six feet from others, and exercising.  Use your devices to find resources for workouts, and not just scrolling up through social media feeds.  Yes, you can reduce this time of quarantine and get Americans back to work sooner.  All it takes are minor changes to your day, since you have more time now to do them.

Right now, stand up, gather your family and pets if necessary, and head out the door.  Don’t come back for 30 minutes or more.  Tomorrow, do the same thing.  Do it every day for the next 60 days, at that point it becomes a habit.  Exercise and food moderation do not discriminate on gender, race, sex, creed, or religion, just like COVID-19.  Make a difference for yourself today, in the end, your ultimately responsible for your health.

Changing Your Rate of Aging

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, or the beer can doesn’t fall far from the trailer.  This is fairly true on our personality and behavior characteristics but doesn’t have to be so with our physical health.  In a recent study by Professor Michael Snyder, he identified four ageotypes based on health factors.  A common link between them are the controllable factors of diet and exercise that can help identify and reduce specific risk factors.  While your mother has high blood pressure, you can make changes to lower yours even though you have a genetic predisposition.

Lifestyle is a 100% choice regardless of what’s in your wallet.  The healthy and unhealthy purchases at the grocery store and daily physical activity levels are learned traits.  When you’re born, you don’t have a predetermined genetic type of foods that are assigned to you like eye color.  Your parents may choose high fat and sodium snacks for you a child, and of course you LEARN to like or not like them.  As an adult with a source of income, you can make different choices from all the information freely available to you online and in the free magazines at the store.  Because your parents are 40 lbs overweight does not require you to be also.

The choices made in your 40’s have a direct and significant impact on your physical and resulting cognitive health in your 60’s and on.  Identifying potential biomarkers that can lead to diabetes, stroke, cancer, and dementia in middle age will result in a higher quality of life 20-30 years from now.  The same impact is now heavily being affected in your children.  The habits you have today teach them how to shop, eat, and be active as they reach adulthood.  Give them help by helping yourself with healthier lifestyle choices.  Nothing is sadder than seeing three generations of obesity and knowing it’s all a conscious and voluntary choice.

For all of the information out there, Americans still are getting fatter with more health problems and wondering why medications are more expensive.  Is it laziness or denial or both?  Recognition and admission are the first steps to changing your ageotype, then you have to execute on the changes.  It really isn’t rocket science to stop eating high fat and ultra- processed carb foods.  Small adjustments now yield big changes and a happier existence in the future.  Your rate of aging can slow down to allow you more enjoyment with family and friends in years to come.  Additionally, your entire extended family reaps the benefits and may actually join you in helping themselves reduce their own aging rate.  Life is truly a win win at that point!