In most areas of our country, we are so fortunate to have more food than we could ever eat. But, there are many areas in the world, and even in our own country, where this is not the case. Eating food is how we fuel our body, heal our body, and energize our body to live successfully. However, most people have taken eating to a whole other level.

Nearly half of all Americans are classified as obese. That is having a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30. Here is a good guideline from WebMD to know where you land on the BMI scale:

If your BMI is:

  • Below 18.5: underweight
  • 18.5-24.9: normal
  • 25-29.9: overweight
  • 30 or higher: obese

When you visit your doctor, the nurse will take your weight and height. With those numbers, they can tell you what your BMI is.

You can see the article here, https://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/features/am-i-obese#1.

You can calculate it yourself with this calculator from the CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/english_bmi_calculator/bmi_calculator.html.

Why is this so important? The BMI is looking at your body makeup, by looking at the ratio of fat to muscle. If the ratio of fat to muscle is too high, you can feel joint pain, have high blood pressure and/or heart disease. When you are carrying too much fat, you will have inflammation throughout your body, including your brain. This can lead to dementia, heart disease, gut issues, various forms of arthritis, and lack of energy.

Heart disease is the #1 killer in the United States and what is sad is we could stop it dead in its tracks. The fact is we are overeating and eating horrible foods that promote heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and strokes. I watched my father suffer for more than fifteen years from heart disease and two massive strokes. Not only is it costly in healthcare costs, but it is also costly in the quality of life. His bad choices in eating and lifestyle cost him everything he had earned in his lifetime, and he was left in a wheelchair, unable to do anything for himself, including cleaning himself up daily. I don’t know about you, but this is not how I want to finish my life.

It Is Not Just What You Eat, But When You Eat.

My father was a big strong man his entire life. He was six feet, four inches tall, and weighed two hundred and fifty pounds. I saw him lift things I thought no man could lift. It was like living with Superman. As I visited him the last years of his life, I remember thinking about his life, especially his diet and lifestyle. To say my father loved to eat was an understatement. He could at more than most people in my life, and it brought him such joy. He loved sweets, breads, steaks, and the more the better. When I was younger, he and I would go for a prime rib, the bigger the prime rib the better. We would eat a steak that weighed twelve to sixteen ounces, baked potato, bread, side dishes, and of course dessert. We literally had a blast just sitting there eating. He would brag about how much I could eat to his friends and family as if it were some badge of honor. The “ATTA-Boys” are how I became more than three hundred pounds in my thirties.

He loved taking me out to eat. We enjoyed the food and the conversation. Although we ate bad food, the other problem was how often and at what time we ate. We would eat larger meals during the day with some sweet snacks in between. He loved those very sweet easter bunny snacks and spongey orange peanut-shaped candies, which are very bad for you. Those were never my favorite, but I had my own favorite, too. My dad was a professional Square Dance caller, which had him out late at last five nights per week. Of course, at midnight, we would go out for a huge breakfast at a local breakfast restaurant. Eating that much food, then going to bed on a full stomach is not a healthy way to live. To make matters worse, he went to bed in the early morning hours, then would wake up by 6 a.m. to go back to work. This kind of lifestyle can, and will, lead to a bad health outcome, and it did.

Eating heavy meals causes the body additional stress of digesting the food. We have all grown up in a culture that loves to eat food and in large quantities. Learning to stop eating when you first feel full will help in reducing some of this stress. Not eating during the two hours before bedtime will improve your sleep and digestion. Our bodies need to feel some famine, like not eating for ten to twelve hours. I do this in the evening as most of that time I am sleeping, which helps as I am not awake to think about food. Food and sleep are very important to the aging process. Lack of sleep is a national epidemic as most people get fewer than six hours per night. Much of that lack of sleep is due to late-night eating.

What to Eat is a Whole Other Matter.

Most people eat too many simple carbs and not enough vegetables. I know what you are thinking, “I don’t like vegetables.” My wife and I raise our own vegetables in the winter months here and most of our friends are very interested in our garden. When they come over for a visit, they can’t wait to see it. I always need to remind them that the plants they are seeing is food and not weeds, please don’t step on them. It dawned on me last year that if any one of my friends were lying on the ground starving to death, they could be lying right next to food growing and they would not recognize it as food. They could literally die from starvation while food is growing beside them. How ironic!

Vegetables, organically grown, contain many vitamins and minerals we need to prevent major disease that we see people suffering from. Eating more vegetables could reduce obesity which is a major driver in diseases. Instead, most people are eating too many simple carbs like breads, pastas, and baked goods. For the people who claim to be eating a no-carb diet, if you are eating salads and vegetables, you are eating carbs. Vegetables are complex carbs, which are good for you. This does not mean you can never eat simple carbs, just don’t make them the bulk of your diet.

My diet consists of seventy percent vegetables, twenty percent good meat, and ten percent simple carbs. You may have to adjust those numbers for your own body. I find, for me, this allows me to maintain a healthy weight and feel energized every day. An old saying about how to grocery shop is, “Buy the bulk of your food on the perimeter of the grocery store to prevent eating the processed foods found in the center aisles that can kill you.”

Putting It All Together

Aging gracefully takes a little bit of work and thought about what you do, eat, and think. We walk by many sick people each day of our lives. We have an obesity epidemic, sleep epidemic, and chronic stress epidemic. What is interesting is, all of these things are interconnected. Eating badly stresses the body, causes the brain to go into a hyper-alert state and causes one to sleep badly. Sleeping badly causes us to overeat and experience brain fog. Chronic stress causes us to overeat and sleep badly. It is like running around in a circle.

We look to our healthcare system to help us and are disappointed when it can’t. Understand that our healthcare practitioners are trained in acute care, meaning, if you have a heart attack or broken bone, they know how to fix it. Unfortunately, we live in a society that is living with chronic pain and stress. We are not trained in how to fix that! We can solve this problem, however, the solution begins with you.

Look at your healthcare practitioner as a guide. They can help you with understanding guidelines, rehab, and lifestyle changes. The trick is, you have to do something on your own. No diet or lifestyle change will happen until you commit to it for yourself. Learning that what you put into your body and how you treat your body will have an effect on your health, good or bad. You get to determine how well you age.

Begin by learning how to change your thought process about aging, eating, and lifestyle. Think about your lifestyle and whether it is having a positive effect or a negative effect. A bad job, neighborhood, or relationship can actually kill you. Eating based on food tasting good without regard for the physical effect it can have on you, positive or negative, is a poor choice. Once you begin to think about what you’re eating and you begin to feel better, it will become easier and easier to continue the commitment.

Tips to Improve your Stretching

All you need is a yoga strap and a tennis ball for the tennis ball massage. Give yourself about 15 minutes twice a day and you should see better results within 2 weeks. This, though, is a lifetime event. Think of your pet. they stretch every day and several times a day. Stretch when they stretch. Follow the videos below and free your knees. In my opinion, the calf stretch is the most important stretch a human can do. It will solve many issues of the body.

Stretching is more about feeling the muscles letting go than forcing them to stretch. If you are forcing the muscle, you could be doing strength training, not stretching. Make sure you are feeling the intended muscle stretching. If not, the form could be wrong. Holding for 5 seconds allows the brain to release the muscle before it senses any danger. Repeating the stretches 10 times allows the brain to learn it is safe for the muscle to move that way.

Don’t forget the Tennis Ball Massage!

Softening your hips and back is easy when you use the tennis ball. Just lean against the wall and apply enough pressure to feel the painful area. The temptation is to press harder but resist it. Instead, breathe out and allow the muscle to soften under the ball. Then move to another spot and repeat. Continue doing this until most of the painful spots are gone. Check out previous newsletters to see the video.

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About The Muscle Repair Shop

Drawing upon his personal experience as a former competitive athlete turned wheelchair, obese, and chronic pain sufferer, Muscle Repair Shop Founder Butch Phelps decided to take his health into his own hands when at the age of 36 he was told he might not make it to his 40th birthday.  Applying balanced nutrition advice from his doctor along with a sound exercise program, he went from 315 lbs. to 180 lbs.  Motivated by his experience, he then acquired degrees in advanced therapeutic massage and aging sciences to help people eliminate chronic pain. This included applying his expertise in how people age, including the effects of dementia, anatomy, psychology, and the day-to-day struggles living as an older person to his practice and development of The Muscle Repair Shop’s one-of-a-kind Stretch n’ Release Technique.

Available through in-office and virtual coaching treatment sessions, this unique combination of stretching and breath work teaches the brain to release the emotional side of muscle tension and pain allows clients to find lasting relief and healing from stiffness, aches, injuries, and chronic pain. The at-home exercises come with customized instructional videos and virtual or in-office support, allowing clients to enjoy and experience life and sports as they did before limitations slowed or curtailed activities.

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