34 of the Most Powerful Health Tips EVER!

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Today’s post comes from my friend Tony Ferrante. Tony is a 51 year old father of three from Winder, Georgia. A couple of years ago as Tony was getting ready for a funeral for a friend of his that died before the age of 50, he realized that he had no clothes that fit him. As the scale underneath him read 300 pounds, Tony knew that if he did not do something fast, the next funeral may be his own.

Tony made it his mission to lose weight. And lose weight he did. One and a half years later he was standing on the same scale at 165 pounds (a 135 lb. weight loss)! His life is all about health these days and it’s his mission to help others. I did a live show with him a few months ago (https://www.davidmadow.com/slice-your-age-in-half-episode-5-david-madow-explains-how-to-lose-weight-and-keep-it-off/). Below are the rules that Tony lives by. There are 34 of them now (from his Facebook page)
and he may add more later! It is long but I recommend that you read these very carefully. They will change your life.

Tony Ferrante

Tony Ferrante – before and after!


34 of the Most Powerful Health Tips EVER!

1- Drink water like it’s your Job! You should take your present body weight and divide by 2. That number is the daily amount of fluid ounces of water you should be drinking. At a minimum. Most folks don’t drink enough water. If you’re committed to losing weight and staying healthy, water intake is just as, if not more important, than your food intake. And I mean good, old fashioned water. Unless you’re juicing entire fruits to keep their pulp and fiber and nutrients, fruit juice is really just flavored sugar water. Soft drinks are bubbly sugar water. Diet soft drinks have artificial sweetener that has been proven to increase cravings and decrease brain function. I don’t know about you, but my brain function doesn’t need any further handicapping if I can help it. Alcohol is purely empty calories that also reduce your willpower to stay away from foods that are bad for you. And most energy drinks are sugar water with extra caffeine which is a diuretic; negating the fluid intake by making you pass the water you’re trying so hard to have working in your body. Increasing the amount of water flowing through your body fights against dehydration. It facilitates cellular growth. It helps the digestive tract. It improves your skin, hair, and nails. It flushes the body of waste and lactic acid, helping you to be less sore after a workout. And it can help regulate your blood pressure and blood sugar. People on Blood Pressure and Diabetes medication can oftentimes find themselves no longer needing the medicine once they lose weight and become more healthy and fit.

2- Burn Calories whenever you can, not just when “working out”. Losing weight boils down to a simple mathematical equation. If you burn more calories over the course of a day than you take in, you are working toward shrinking your fat cells. Studies show that keeping your heart rate elevated for 20-30 minutes at a stretch is the most efficient way to receive all the benefits of cardio exercise. However, some people get discouraged because they can’t work this into their busy schedules and lives. Don’t give up if you can’t hit the gym or walking trails for a dedicated workout. Every single calorie burned and every muscle stretched is putting you one step further down the journey toward fitness. Think of different ways to change your lifestyle so that you’re burning calories instead of remaining sedentary. Take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator. Park further away from the door at the mall, grocery store, or work and then walk briskly. Take time out of your lunch break to do some walking instead of just sitting at a restaurant or break room. Set a time every hour where you do stretching exercises while at work or doing your chores. Actually get involved and play with your kids or grandkids instead of just watching them. (Believe me, chasing a Frisbee or baseball or football after a child’s errant throws can burn TONS of calories). Learn steering wheel isometrics where you do curls, triceps extensions, and chest presses while driving – as you warm up to doing these exercises you can really feel the burn every time you drive anywhere. Just remember this. The human body was not created to sit behind a desk, or in a car, or on the couch; it was designed to hunt animals and grow its own food sources. Get moving. Get your heart and muscles working. And slowly but surely you’ll be getting fitter and healthier. Have a great day, Teammates!

3- Make up your mind to follow a healthy diet plan. In order for your desired weight loss or fitness plan to work and become a long-term lifestyle change, you have got to be fully committed mentally that this is what you desire for yourself. If your brain is not 100% convinced that you want to be thinner, more fit, and live longer through proper nutrition, you’re ability to withstand the onslaught of poor eating habits and bad foods and drinks will not be there. Where the mind goes, the body follows. My mental breakthrough came when I realized that being fat was going to make me die sooner. I was ashamed at being fat. I hated wearing big clothes. I hated not being able to fit into them properly. I was embarrassed to see pictures of myself and my double/triple chin. I became actively angry at myself and the years of wearing blinders to my own poor nutrition and exercise habits. Acknowledging my own shortcomings, getting pissed off at myself, and making the dedicated commitment to do something about it finally allowed me to regain control over my diet, my exercise, my body, and my life. Until I was brutally honest with myself, and set up a game plan to change myself, anything and everything I would have tried would have been doomed to the same failure that allowed me to balloon up to 300 pounds. My maternal grandmother died before she was 50. My father died before he turned 58. I’m 50 today. I consciously realized that I want WAY more than 8 more years on this earth. I have too many things that I want to do. My Bucket List is too long for me to ever accomplish my heart’s desires if I’m fat and unfit. I want to live to 100. I want to be the old, funny, happy guy organizing wheelchair races of the hallways of my nursing home, then running beside the participants or pushing them as we have our Golden Years flings with naughtiness and fun. If I’m fat, I’ll never live long enough. Please decide why you want to lose weight and get in shape. Decide to do whatever it takes to make this happen. Commit yourself to a plan to extend your life and make it more than it can be without being physically fit. If your mind wants your body to carry you happily through the next 40-50 years, the constant 24/7 struggle to exercise, eat right, and take care of your body will become a lifestyle change and not just a temporary diet or fitness fad. Good luck on your journey, and I’m here to help. I’m throwing a huge 100th Birthday Bash on January 23, 2063 and everyone’s invited. Drinks are on me!

4- Plan on slow and steady weight loss. Be prepared for this to take more time than you’d like, and proceed slower than you would wish for, with frustrating plateaus where the numbers on the scale just won’t budge. There is no weight loss Silver Bullet or fitness Magic Plan. Persistence and Dedication will triumph where “Quick Fixes” and instant gratification fails. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, and be prepared for it to be a long, slow trip. Be patient. You put on weight and got out of shape over an extended period of time; reversing this may take months or even years, and require a lot more effort on your part. But you’re changing your WHOLE LIFE, so you have the rest of your life to accomplish this. Your own journey toward weight loss and fitness will begin with the conscious decision that you want to regain control over your body and your health. Then you have to choose the nutrition plan and exercise program that fits your personality, lifestyle, and physical needs in the best way that you can stick with until the end. I’m not going to promote any single plan or program over another, because we’re all different. Meal replacement shake programs work wonders for some people, while others crash and burn if they try to replace real food with “astronaut food”. When these folks finally do eat they sometimes overeat or choose poorly because they feel like they’ve been depriving themselves. Some diets require pre-purchased foods. People on these plans enjoy having the decisions made by someone else ahead of time. Other diets have numerical points assigned to certain food types. The simple equations and the ability to track your diet through numbers appeals to their followers. Again, go with what you’re comfortable with. A nutritional plan that you can embrace fully and comfortably is the most important decision you may have to make in your life, because let’s face it, without getting your weight and health in line you are shortening your life. You have the ability, RIGHT NOW, to embark upon a path that will extend your life and improve the quality of the rest of the years you will spend on this earth. Explore all of the many, varied Diet Plans out there and choose the one you like the best. I’ve had remarkable success using the P90X fitness program and Nutritional Program, along with the Beachbody supplements, but I fully realize that the extreme intensity may be too much for some folks. There are many other choices out there. Taking on an exercise program that is above your fitness level can be counterproductive and discouraging. Talk to your Doctor. Talk to a Personal Trainer. Talk to the people at your gym. Talk to me. Talk with us, your Teammates. There are literally TONS of exercise programs tailored to your specific weight loss and fitness goals based upon your current abilities. Had I jumped into P90X in September, 2011 when I weighed 300 pounds, I wouldn’t even have passed the initial Fitness Test. Then, if I’d been too hardheaded to follow Beachbody’s advice and jumped into the program anyways, I might have lasted 1 day. Might. And I’m pretty sure that the next day when I was too sore to even brush my teeth, that would have been the end of that ill-formulated Plan. Money down the drain, and a terrible feeling of being a failure. You’ve made a decision to change, don’t bite off more than you can chew and shoot your attitude in the foot by setting yourself up to fail. Instead, I decided to walk on the treadmill, use the elliptical, or the exercise bike for 30 minutes a day in order to keep my pulse rate in the target zones printed on the machines. I lifted weights every other day because resistance training builds muscle, which helps increase your metabolism. As my abilities increased, my exercise loads increased. I chose other avenues of exertion that I personally find to be fun. Hiking in the mountains, karate, Brazilian Jiu jitsu. For you it may be soccer, or running, or tossing the Frisbee or football with your kids or grandkids. The point is, if it is fun and you enjoy it, you’ll keep doing it. But proper nutrition is going to be tantamount to your fitness journey. Losing weight is 20% exercise and 80% diet. Great abs are built in the kitchen, not the gym. You can do all the crunches, situps, and Ab Ripper X workouts you want, but if you don’t lose the fat covering your belly, you’ll never see them. Go into this with your mind fully made up, your eyes wide open, and as well informed and you can possibly be. If you prepare yourself for the long, hard journey, you will stay on the path for the duration, and the roads will lead you to places you’d only dreamed of before. Good luck as you travel along this weight loss and fitness trip. I’ll be right there, walking beside you.

5- Everybody’s working for the Weekend, but your Body only considers it another day in your life. Don’t let yourself overindulge just because you don’t have to wake up and go to work the next day. Your weight loss and fitness is a lifestyle change requiring constant preventive maintenance, not a quick set of repairs that you’ll turn away from and go back to how you were before your Program. If you’ve eaten clean, drank your water, and exercised faithfully during the work week, why shoot yourself in the foot this weekend? Sure, relax and enjoy yourself. But instead of sitting on the couch and eating a bag of ruffles with a tub of french onion dip, try relaxing through physical exertion. Go for a run. Hike in the mountains. Find an indoor pool and go swimming. Use this free time to do something fun and active that you don’t have the opportunity to do during the week. Eat clean and healthy. Don’t drink to excess. If you’re changing your life in order to extend your life, the drunken binges of your college days need to be nothing more than memories. Your health and quality of life is more important to you now than drinking, right? I weigh myself each Friday morning and look at the weekend as an opportunity to make tangible strides toward my goal. It makes Monday morning a fun experience (imagine that!) if the numbers on the scale are smaller to start the next week. Have a great weekend, Teammates! Push Play, Bring It, and Sweat Until You Drip!

6- Know all that you can about the food and drinks you put in your body. Pretty much every food or beverage has nutritional information available so that you can find out how many calories, fat, protein, sodium, carbs, etc. you would be consuming if you chose to eat or drink it. Most restaurants either have their nutritional info posted somewhere, or it is available online. Make it a habit to check this before you put this stuff in your body. It can be eye opening to find out that something that you’d thought was healthy is actually loaded with calories, fats, carbs, or whatever; but you just weren’t aware of it. The listed ingredients may shock you too. High fructose corn syrup has been linked recently to many problems, yet unless you check the labels you may be eating this in some foods without even knowing it. Pay attention to the portion sizes and servings per container. A 16oz bag of some snack may show that it only has 150 calories per portion, so you think that’s okay. But if you read further you may find that they’re tricking you because a portion is actually broken down to 2oz, and there are 8 servings for that bag. If you eat that whole bag thinking you’re only getting 150 cals, you’re actually going to be adding 1200 calories to your fat cells in one little sitting. That can blow a day’s clean eating goal without even feeling like you’ve splurged. You’ve got to educate yourself so that you can make informed choices on your nutrition. If you’re consciously aware of every morsel that enters your body from this point forward, chances are that you’ll make better and better choices, allowing you to regain control over your body and your life. Always remember the adage “Garbage in – Garbage out.” Reading the labels will let you see if you’re about to eat garbage. Provide your body with proper and good fuel and you’ll be running like a finely tuned race car for many years to come.

7- Focus on the lifelong Big Picture constantly so you can have the willpower to choose correctly every minute of every day. Each morning when you wake up you are starting with a fresh slate upon which you are going to write the decisions you make that will impact your fitness journey. Throughout the course of the day you will make spur of the moment choices that can either aid or hamper your progress. If you focus on your Goals and the Big Picture you can use that focus as incentive to choose wisely. Here are some quick thoughts to keep in mind when you decide to pass by the cookie tray at work, or order the grilled chicken salad at McDonalds instead of the Supersized Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal, or get out of bed to Push Play and Bring It instead of hitting the snooze button just one more time: – Losing weight will extend your life. – Losing weight will make you feel better about yourself and how you look. – Your clothes are going to fit better. And as you get smaller you’ll be able to wear clothes you’ve been storing in your closet for years. Be really successful and you’ll be rewarding yourself with a whole new wardrobe that will be fabulous and you’ll look great! – Carrying fewer pounds of fat on your frame will lessen a great deal of the chronic pain you may have had for years. Lower back strain, sore knees and ankles, calluses and corns and bunions on the soles of your feet, and many other aches that you’ve attributed to getting older may all go away and be a thing of the past as you lighten the load you are carrying about. – Your heart will be able to work so much more efficiently and less hard as you reduce the amount of capillaries required to carry blood through your entire body because you are making your body smaller. I have reduced my total body mass from 300 pounds to 178.5 as of this moment. 121.5 pounds. Divided by my original 300, that’s 40.5 percent less body for my heart to have to deal with! I can just imagine the old ticker celebrating because it gets to work so much easier these days. – As you look better, feel better, and view your body image in a new light your attitude and general happiness will increase. The same BS and problems and stress will still be there; you will just be able to deal with it all so much better if your moods are elevated through floods of endorphins through exercise and your outlook on your life is better. Think of these 2 Rules. #1 – Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. Rule #2 – It’s ALL Small Stuff. Have a great rest of your Weekend. Get busy. Get after it. Eat Clean and Sweat Until You Drip!

8- Push Play, Bring It, Dig Deeper, and Sweat Until You Drip! You’re priming your body for years of extended, better, and healthier living. You have to push yourself to limits you may have never thought possible. Get out of bed, get moving, eat clean, and when you feel like you just can’t do anything more, do 2 more reps anyways! You’ll surprise yourself with what you’re actually capable of. Most people don’t see the results they’re expecting from a fitness program because they quit too soon. Go beyond your comfort zone. That comfort zone got you to where you are today, so it obviously isn’t so great. Push through it and see what you’re actually capable of!

9- Keep a backup supply of healthy snacks and/or water with you at all times. I carry a cooler in my truck that has a ready supply of Pure Protein bars (20g protein vs 200 calories and about $1/bar at Target and Walmart), bottles of cold water, and usually a spare meal of chicken breast and fresh veggies at all times. This gets me through my day with a backup emergency plan to the inevitable cravings and temptations that bombard me constantly. It helps me put something healthy in my body at a moment’s notice that doesn’t cost me any money that I really shouldn’t be spending anyways. It helps me drive past Arbys and drink water instead of a Jamocha Shake. It gives me the power to eat a protein bar instead of grabbing a brownie off the tray sitting in the break room at work. And I have a healthy meal ready for me so that I don’t go off with the guys at work and hit Five Guys Burger and Fries. Every choice you make today will impact your life and your lifespan. Years from now, won’t you enjoy spending just a few more days with your loved ones instead of making the wrong nutritional choices today? Eat Clean, Drink your Water, and Sweat Until You Drip!

10- Be sure to get your Rest! Resting and providing your body with a chance to recover is just as important as exercising to the point of failure and eating clean! It’s all a matter of balance. If you want the best possible results as you work on improving your body, mind, and spirit; you have to set aside time to rest, relax, and recuperate. Studies have proven that people who get adequate sleep each night build more muscle and lose more fat than folks who are sleep deprived. Plus, your mental attitude is so much better when you’ve had a good night’s sleep. And make it a point to set aside time for quiet reflection. Pray, meditate, stretch, listen to calming music. Whatever it takes to move your mind, your thoughts, and your dreams to a place where the outside world and its stresses can’t interfere. You’ll be glad you did!

11- Don’t let the numbers on the scale get you down. Scales lie sometimes, inches tell the truth. As you progress on your fitness and weight loss journey you are constantly in need of positive reinforcement. Yet, your bathroom scale may be providing the worst negative input possible. Today I weighed more than I weighed Monday morning when I started Insanity. Yet I’ve been working hard and eating clean. How could this be? If I focused on the numbers it would be easy to get down on myself and rationalize poor decisions through my day. “Why not have a brownie? I’m not losing weight anyways, what’s the point?” The point is, if you’re doing everything within your power to do things right, pay no attention to the crappy numbers showing at your feet. There are other, truer ways to monitor your weight loss. My belt and pants are just a little bit looser this morning. And my scale is also a high tech body composition monitor, so even though my weight is showing to have increased, by body fat percentage is at its absolute lowest this morning at 9.6%! Many, many factors can negatively impact the numbers on the scale. If you’re drinking a gallon of water a day, you are adding over 8 pounds a day just in water. Sure, you’re passing it too, but if you happen to retain more than you pass, your weight will be greater. Plus, you’ve got to eat to lose weight. Everything you put in your body weighs something, so if you haven’t passed it, you’re going to weigh more. And, as you build muscle through exercise remember that muscle tissue weighs more than fat. You could be losing fat in your tummy but building muscle in your legs, arms, and shoulders, so you might still end up weighing more. If weighing yourself daily seems to be getting you down, stop doing it. Pick a day to weigh in and then stay off the scales on the off days. Some folks only weigh in once a week. Just remember, as long as you’re doing your best, forget the rest. And that includes the numbers on the scale if they’re giving you conflicting information!

12- Do not allow yourself to eat to satisfy your emotions. Don’t use food as a “comfort giver”. This is personally my biggest struggle. When I’ve had a terrible, horrible, rotten, no good, very bad day I can come home and find myself trying to eat everything in the refrigerator except the lightbulb. My clouded logic says things like, “Today sucked so bad, and I’m so downtrodden and unfairly treated – I deserve this!” or, “Hell, I’ve been depriving myself for so long, why not?” or even worse, “Its here and someone’s gotta eat it. Might as well be me!” If you see glimmers of yourself here, try to realize that this temporary binge eating is what helped you develop this weight problem in the first place. If you can’t control it fully, try to make it hard for this temporary insanity to be really bad. Police the types of food you have in your fridge and pantry. If it’s something you shouldn’t be eating anyways, it has no place in your home. If your family members would rather string you up than do without their snack cakes and cookies and cokes and candy and fried chicken nuggets, try making a “safe zone” where you can keep your healthy food and a “fat zone” where you keep their junk. STAY OUT OF THE FAT ZONE! Try to start convincing your mind that food is your fuel. Only. Eating is not a social event, or a reward for a crappy day, or something to do when your bored. You eat to sustain your body on your quest to life a long, healthy, and happy life. Wolfing down a box of Ho-hos may make you happy in the moments that the chocolaty gooiness is running down your throat, but you’ll end up making yourself unhappy in the long run. I could go on and on, like I said, this is my particular struggle. If I wake up on the wrong side of the bed I’d love to go eat the “Fat Boys Special” Grand Slam breakfast at Dennys, but if I want to live for 50 more years, I’ll be better off hitting the gym and eating a balanced breakfast. My body will thank me, and my emotions won’t have to deal with the guilt of my binge.

13- Provide yourself with constant motivational reminders as you make your fitness journey. Be creative. And make sure it’s geared specifically to you and your situation. You are undertaking the reshaping of your body and your life, so this is something you will need to stay focused on practically every moment of every day. If you’re surrounded by plates of cookies, candies, and brownies at work left laying around by co-workers, you will need to use your willpower every single time you pass by and decide not to grab one and munch. Working out and exercising may require that you change into special clothes and/or go to the gym. The path of least resistance usually would mean to skip that workout. When you’re on the road and just have to stop in a fast food restaurant because you’re famished and there’s nothing else for miles, it could take Superhero strength to get the grilled chicken salad instead of a triple cheeseburger, large fries, and a shake. I took very unflattering photos of myself on my 49th Birthday when I weighed 282.6lbs. I let it all hang out and did it from the front and side. Then I have kept a printed copy of these pictures in my back pocket every single day since then. When they wore out, I re-printed them. I have been able to pull them out and look at my fat body each time I felt my resolve slipping. I even stored them on my iPhone, just in case. Another good way for some folks might be to put these pics on your fridge or pantry. Wouldn’t you tend to make better decisions if you were reminded of how you never plan to look again? Take weekly photos of yourself and arrange them in a folder so that you can see your progression. Be proud of the changes and continue to positively reinforce yourself. As you reach certain milestones you can print those pics and carry them too so that you can see what you’ve accomplished so far. Use the notches on your belt as a tangible reminder of how you’re shaping up. As you cinch your belt just a little bit tighter, each time you progress down a notch, celebrate it! Be proud of the fact that this leather band around your belly is logging your weight loss. Heck, when I was at my fattest I couldn’t even wear a belt usually. Now I have 2 different belts hanging in my closet where I can chart the progression down from 46’s to 34’s. I wish I’d logged the dates on the reverse side with a pen or something because it’s almost a time line of my journey. As you lose weight, your fat clothes will no longer fit, so get rid of them! Donate them to Charity because your loss needs to be someone’s gain! Then make sure that you congratulate yourself, and then get a receipt which itemizes what you just unloaded from your closet and your dresser. Motivate yourself through knowing that sooner or later you’re going to have a whole new skinny wardrobe and you’re going to look fabulous! I’ve become enamored of shopping at these same thrift stores when I make my donation because the size I am right now is not the size I plan to be. Why pay retail for a brand new pair of size 34 jeans when I only plan to be renting them for a little while until I’m wearing size 32’s? And then again down to 30’s? You might have a specific piece of clothing that you plan to be able to wear once you’ve achieved your goal. Your Wedding Dress, or your Dress Uniform from the Military, or your Letter Jacket, whatever. Give it a place of honor in your closet and try it on every few weeks or so. As the buttons come closer together, you’ll be motivated to keep on pushing to where you want to be. And lastly, feel free to share your pics with others. A close group of friends or Teammates can provide you with the reinforcement you need, or you may just be the driving force behind someone else’s motivation. You never know. And that includes when you’re having trouble seeing results in yourself. We are our own worst critics. I was disappointed with my Day 30 P90X pics, I just couldn’t see the results that I was hoping for after a month of bringing it hard every day. But my Team saw things that I couldn’t see because I was wearing blinders to myself. They pumped me up and pointed me back in the right direction. Remember, we’re all in this together. The more people you have supporting you, the better the journey will be. But your prime sources of determination and focus need to come from within yourself!

14- Today you have a clean slate upon which you can write your fitness and nutrition program for the rest of your life. Your past is behind you and you cannot change it, so ignore it. No matter what you ate, or drank, or didn’t do over the weekend; you start fresh each day and can make the decisions that will improve and prolong your life. Don’t skip meals today to compensate for overeating this weekend. You gotta eat to lose weight. Concentrate on eating clean, healthy, and often. Drink your water! Flush your body of any toxins or impurities you may have picked up at a Super Bowl celebration. Do your exercises as planned, but don’t overtrain just because you might have slacked off over the weekend. If you were sedentary for 2-3 days, then hit the gym today for supersets of maximum weights, then an hour on the elliptical, then 2 rounds of P90X or Insanity!, then end up so sore tomorrow that you can’t get out of bed, or you injure yourself, you’re accomplishing nothing. Be smart, but be active. Have a great Monday, Teammates! Dig Deeper, Bring It, and Sweat Until You Drip!

15- You are your prime motivator and source of courage. Do not rely on others to encourage you, and don’t allow the abilities of others to discourage you! The only competition you are in is against yourself and the person you were yesterday. Celebrate your small victories every step of the way. Only you know for sure if you’re able to walk a little further, or do 1 more rep, or modify your exercises just a little bit less. Don’t wait for other people to tell you that you’re looking good, tell yourself that what you’re doing is making for a better you. There will always be someone out there who can run further, jump higher, or lift more. Let them motivate you, but don’t allow yourself to get discouraged because you can’t keep up with them. They are not living your life, you are! Do your best and forget the rest! If I was to lose my mind and sign up for an Ironman Triathlon or the Spartan Race this spring all I would do is fail miserably and possibly hurt myself. Know your limitations! I’m going to take this year and do all the 5k and 7k extreme obstacle races I can because I know I can succeed at those, then I plan to be able to compete with the big boys and girls in 2014 on the really hard stuff. If your exercise goal today is to walk on the treadmill for 20 minutes at a fast pace, do that and be proud of the fact that you did! You’re still further along than the people still sitting on the couch. And maybe next time you can go for 25 minutes. Be your own best cheerleader. You’re the one who gets to live with yourself for the rest of your life, be proud of what you’re doing to prolong and enrich your life.

16- Start keeping a pair of tennis shoes and a set of workout clothes in your car at all times so that you can get out there and hit it whenever the opportunity arises. As you progress along your fitness journey you will be presented with chances to work out, exercise, and explore the great outdoors that you might have to pass on if you’re not prepared. People have been randomly calling me, texting me, or messaging me at weird times to invite me to join in at the gym, or hit the nature trail at the local park. The times when I’ve been available and prepared have given me an opportunity to exert myself, experience new things, and engage in fellowship that I might have otherwise had to pass on. The sight of a beautiful sunset while taking a brisk walk in the woods with a friend is something you don’t want to miss just because you left your tennis shoes sitting at home. Remember, if it’s not fun, you probably won’t stick with it for too long. Search for the “fun quotient”. You’re working on improving your entire life, not just your waistline.

17- Be aware of your body’s need for recovery. The Yin and Yang. Schedule days of stretching, yoga, or slowly controlled movements while you’re working on high intensity workouts. You can’t be fully prepared for explosive movements if you’re not in tune with slow movements and balance. Your muscles can become overburdened if all you do is concentrate on lifting and high intensity movements all of the time. You have both fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers. Each type is important to work on in a balance as you progress on this fitness journey. Plus, your ligaments and connective tissues need to be stretched and supple in order for you to prevent injury during your workouts and daily living. Yoga routines and specific stretching programs done in between your strenuous exercise days will allow you to improve and recover at a much faster pace, increasing your abilities in all areas of your fitness. If you think that Yoga is boring because it’s slow, serene, and doesn’t have you breathing like a freight train, try going deeper into your stretches and poses. You control the amount of effort necessary to do your exercises. If you continually push and breathe through the movement, you’ll get plenty of work in, and see changes you never thought possible! I can touch my head to my knees for the first time ever in my 50 years, and I’m getting stronger and more flexible every day! Remember, this is a lifelong journey to lengthen and improve the quality of the rest of your life. Take time to relax and enjoy the ride!

18- Your mirror can be your biggest ally or your harshest critic. Focus on liking the person staring back at you and you’ll be able to mold the body that you see in your reflection. You as a person are much, much more than the beer belly, double chins, or love handles you may see every morning when you’re getting ready for your day. Your body image is just that, the image of your body only. Your physical being is the vessel for your soul and essence as a person. Work on loving the person that you are, and don’t let a poor image in the mirror dictate who you are. Reshaping your body will enhance and lengthen your life, so enjoy it, and learn to enjoy being who you are. Have a great Friday, and a wonderful weekend! Sweat Until You Drip!

19- If you’re having troubles with losing weight you might want to consider keeping a Food Journal. Logging every morsel that you put into your body is extremely helpful, especially for people like myself who have tended to “graze” all day by popping food into our mouths whenever the urge strikes us. I’ve always had a bad habit of nipping at my food as I’m cooking it, usually being too full to eat by the time dinner’s ready to serve. It was really bad when I managed restaurants because I’d nab a piece of cheese, or test the guacamole, or sample the fries as I passed by on my normal rounds. I’d wonder, “Why can’t I lose weight? I eat sensible meals.” It’s the hidden sneaks of food and drinks that can really add up. And adding up is what you need to do. Grabbing a handful of M&M’s every time you pass the candy dish adds the same calories as if you took them in during a normally scheduled meal. Chugging a pint of chocolate milk at the gas station counts just as much no matter when you drink it. Plus, by keeping track of exactly what and how much you consume might help you balance your nutrition better. If I’m particularly weak and listless during my workouts I have been able to look over my journals and see where I haven’t been taking in enough carbs on the previous days. “Carbs” seems to have become a bad word these days so I shy away from them a lot, but they’re very necessary for your nutrition, especially if you’re exercising regularly. It’s “excess carbs” that you need to beware of. Your water intake is important to monitor too. The cellular water that you use on a day to day basis comes from staying regularly hydrated. If you only drink water when you’re thirsty, it’s generally too late. In short, your body is a machine that you need to keep regularly maintained. Your Food Journal can be your Maintenance Manual.

20- Choose your exercise program wisely. Pick one that fits your lifestyle, body, goals, and abilities. But most importantly, pick something you can commit to! Biting off more than you can chew can kill you literally, and figuratively if it involves your choice of a fitness program. Know your limitations. Explore your options. If you’ve been sedentary for years and are overweight and out of shape, an aggressive program like Crossfit or P90x might not be the best thing for you to jump right in to. Just because “round” is a shape, that doesn’t mean that your shape is going to go from circular to Mr. Universe right away. Killing yourself with too hard of a workout is the quickest way to discourage yourself and drop out. Walking, aerobics, bicycling, and resistance training are all good areas to explore as you’re starting back on the path to better fitness. You can tailor your speed, resistance, and weights to suit yourself and your abilities. Constantly strive to do more, and set your sights on achievable goals based upon your current levels of fitness. If you can walk a mile at a brisk pace today, see about upping that to 2 miles a day in about 2 weeks. If you’re doing dumbell exercises with 10 pounds, maybe you can be using 15 pounders in a month. You get the picture. There are thousands of home fitness programs out there, all of which are fantastic. The key is that you have to commit to actually pushing play and doing them. Find stuff you like, and can do on a constant basis. Dance, Zumba, Tai Bo, Hip Hop Abs, Insanity, P90X are all wonderful, but worthless unless they’re actually playing and you’re doing the exercises. Stationary bikes, home gyms, and treadmills are great pieces of fitness equipment to have. If you’re going to use them. Again, you have to make up your mind that you’re going to do this, and regain control over your life. A bowflex machine is an expensive and ugly piece of furniture and modern art if its just going to sit there unused. Joining a gym is wonderful, as long as you go. If you’re not committed, why waste your money?

Decide, Commit, Succeed. It’s a progression that will enrich your life beyond your wildest dreams.

21- A continuation of yesterday’s train of thought, because it is of vital importance as you work on improving your fitness and your life. Decide, Commit, Succeed! Each facet of this equation builds in a progression, so that in order to Succeed, you must first Decide and then Commit. Committing is the determining factor because without commitment, you are going to fail. As my weight progressed upwards over the years, steadily gaining about 10 extra pounds annually, I decided to do something about it constantly. Practically daily. But I was never, ever able to make the total commitment necessary to succeed. I’ve tried probably every weight loss program out there. I went like gangbusters for a while, then without commitment I fell away from the fold and failed miserably, regaining the weight I’d lost and adding more just to make it hurt worse. I’ve done many different types of exercise programs with the same results. Lack of commitment caused me to lose interest, make excuses, and just find reasons to do something else. Another crash and burn. It was only after I’d made up my mind to give myself over totally to reshaping my body, fitness, and lifestyle that I was able to commit to total dedication and focus on achieving my goal. I had to, being fat was shortening and hampering my very life.

Without commitment, you are running an uphill battle against yourself. Change your mindset. What you believe, you can achieve. Where the mind goes, the body must follow. Losing weight is 95% mental and 5% physical……I got a million of them folks.

I think you can see where I’m going from here. Please make the Decision to regain control over your life. Above all things, Commit to doing so. Totally. Fully. With all your heart. And I promise you, you will Succeed!

22- Train your tastebuds to accept new cooking and seasoning styles to accommodate your new lifestyle change. You’re trying to extend your life by getting your nutrition in line with being healthy. You need to cut out the fats, gravies, excess carbs, fried foods, sweets, etc. that got you to where you never wanted to be. Learn to compensate by using healthy substitutes for these things you’ve always savored. Spices like garlic, onions, basil, oregano, and all kinds of hot peppers can provide extra “pizzazz” to the dishes that you’re cooking, without sacrificing the healthy nature of the fuel you’re providing for your body. Lemon juice is a wonderful substitute and useful as a marinade for cooking fish or chicken breasts. Try substituting olive oil for anything you’ve ever prepared using vegetable oils or even margarine. Pure olive oil is great for you in measured amounts, over processed vegetable oils will counteract your healthy choices. Fresh fruits can supply you with a sweet fix when you’re craving a brownie or cookie. Try a “lite’ salt if you’ve just got to have salt added to your dish. I have always been a saltaholic. Moistening my fingertip to get the last bits of salt out of the pretzel bag, loading my popcorn at the theatre with extra butter flavored salt, and every other way I could think of to add salt to my poor diet. No wonder I was a Blimp. But you can, because I have, learn to live with less salt on your food. Train yourself to accept and enjoy these dietary changes so that you can enjoy your food, because you need to be doing this for the rest of your life. Please don’t think that you’re on a “Diet”. Diets fail. A proper nutritional plan will allow you to improve and extend the remaining days you have on this earth. Buon appetito!

23- Sleep! Get your sleep! You need your sleep! You MUST sleep! We all have busy, active lives where we need to actually have 30 hours a day in which to accomplish everything we should be doing. So sleep is usually the first area where we sacrifice time. Exercise is the second. But it’s all an equation that adds up in a balance to improve your fitness.

Proper Nutrition plus Good Exercise plus Adequate Sleep equals Total Health.

In controlled test groups, people who had the same nutrition and exercise programs were screened for their results based upon the amounts of sleep that they got. The people with good sleep habits lost more fat and gained more muscle than the people who were sleep deprived. You have to hit a happy medium that works for yourself. If you only have 60 minutes to spare, do you exercise for an hour or sleep for an hour? Maybe you could split the difference and exercise for 30 minutes and get an additional half an hour of sleep. If you’re committed to improving your health and being fit for the rest of your now extended life, it’s a lifestyle change that you need to strive for. Think of the time wasters that now occupy hours of your day that you really should do without. Are they worth your sacrifice of exercise or sleep, thus shortening your life? I guarantee you, as you approach the end of your days, if you are fit and healthy you will appreciate being able to spend more time with your loved ones instead of checking out early because you constantly passed up on exercise and adequate sleep so that you could watch 2-3 hours of Duck Dynasty and The Walking Dead every evening. Unless the TV is playing an exercise show that you’re involved in, what benefits do you receive when it’s turned on? Have a great day and Push Play!

24- Do not let anyone else’s opinions or negativity cause you to focus on anything other than your own personal success! The people around you do not live your life, you do! If someone tells you that you’re crazy for trying to become fit at your old age, or that there’s no way you’re going to regain control over your body, or that you’re just destined to be fat, or that you’re not tough enough to complete an exercise program; PISS ON THEM! Take their negatives and turn it into a positive. Use their ridiculous input as fuel to fire your angry, determined, committed focus on reshaping and extending your life. Prove them wrong. And then plan on how you’re going to celebrate your new body and make them eat their words. You’re getting fit for you. Negative people may want to see you fail because they have no self confidence. After you’ve proven them wrong, maybe you can reach out and help them achieve what you’ve accomplished. You’re on a journey here for the rest of your life. Don’t let negative speed bumps become roadblocks.

25- Set up your Weekend so that you can succeed and continue on your fitness journey. Don’t go into it with a plan to take a few steps backwards just because you expect to be able to get back into it again on Monday. Your body functions constantly, 24/7, and the weekend is just another set of days in its long life span. A lot of times we tend to overeat or overindulge from Friday-Sunday just because we think we “owe it to ourselves”. There are always reasons why we can rationalize our unhealthy behavior, but in the long run, do we really need to cave in to binge eating and binge drinking just because of what day is listed on the calendar? I slowly progressed upwards to 300 pounds because I did just this. I’d indulge in eating like a lumberjack all weekend, telling myself, “Oh well, I’ll just burn it off in the gym on Monday”. And then Monday would come, and guess what, I’d find an excuse NOT to do the necessary work to burn it off. After a period of time, these caloric food fests all add up. I’m not saying to deprive yourself or crash diet over the weekend. Deprivation fails. Diets fail. A constant and steady nutritional plan will get you through the weekend safely and extend your life. Small pleasures and indulgences are not the problem, being blind to what they can mean over the long haul can be a problem. Have a great weekend. Eat clean, drink your water, and Sweat Until You Drip!

26- Water, Water, Everywhere……

The start of the New Year seems to always begin with someone encouraging you to take care of your health in one way or another (guilty as charged). When embarking on your fitness program, there are several fundamental keys to having a successful end game. The one that I might argue is as important as anything else you could list is….maintaining your hydration levels religiously. That simplest of all nutritional components, the one with which we are all very familiar, has a profound effect on what we are trying to accomplish. Why is hydration so critical? Something Doesn’t Feel Right

Imagine if all the store shelves were completely vacant of water bottles or if nothing came out when you go to turn on your faucet! While you can survive several weeks without food, if you go past 2-3 days without water, you are in serious trouble both physically and mentally! We all know this instinctively, but, many of us would be hard pressed to specifically explain this gut level reaction. I Just Didn’t Know

When you weigh yourself on a scale, approximately 70% of that number staring back at you is water, which means that water makes up the majority of who you are. Your blood, the delivery system of oxygen and nutrients to your cells, is composed of around 80% water. Your brain, your computer, is also at this same level of water content. Your lungs, which supply the body with oxygen, are also in the 80% range. These are essential components of your body. Since we do not store water, you have to drink it all during the day. If your 100 trillion cells are limited in their access to H2O, your lungs, your brain, your whole body cannot function the way it was designed. One of the simplest decisions you can make in regards to your health is drink more water! D.E.B.T.S.

You are beginning to understand that hydration is critical to both your short term as well your long term goals. Almost every function of your body is impacted positively or negatively depending on your hydration levels. I have composed an anagram to cover some of the major ones. The following are the D.E.B.T.S. you own your body to maintain good hydration.

Digestion: You will digest your food better when you are hydrated. “When there is dehydration, the digestive system, especially the colon, is the last organ to receive water” (Natural Health on the Web)

Energy: If the water level around your cells is down approximately 5%, your energy levels can drop 10% to 15% or more. Maintaining good hydration will help alleviate your fatigue factor.

Blood Pressure: While your body prioritizes water distribution to the blood and the brain because they are essential, if you allow yourself to get too dehydrated, the blood can become more viscous. Since the heart is already working 24/7, how do you suppose this will affect the workload on the heart which will now have to pump this thicker fluid?

Toxins: If you don’t hydrate, you can’t eliminate. Your body is constantly trying to clear out toxins and the main ways are thru sweat, number 1 and number 2. A dehydrated body is retaining the toxins, not eliminating them. If you are ever constipated, the first corrective action you should take would be to greatly increase your water intake.

Skin Condition: Over the coming years, if you are mostly on the dehydrated side of the equation versus maintaining a quality level of hydration, how do you think your skin is going to look over time?

And the list goes on:

Helps you lose weight Helps reduce headaches Helps lubricate your joints Helps your body regulate its temperature Makes you more productive ….and more! The Bottom Line By now you are getting a clearer picture why drinking enough water is vital to everything you do. The goal is to consume half your body weight in ounces. In my own case, I am 176 pounds, so I drink (a minimum) of 88 ounces each and every day. On workout days, I will up the ante. Now, the tough part for those of you who haven’t focused on this aspect of your health is implementing a plan. A couple of suggestions. Carry the water with you wherever you go, preferably in something over 20 ounces. Having it in hand means you are more likely to drink it. Some people claim they don’t like the ‘taste’ of water. Ok, then add a small amount of flavor from lemons, cranberry or orange juice. Ultimately, you should now understand that excuses don’t cut it. That list you just read is a potpourri of positives, positives that you will turn into negatives if you don’t start taking responsibility for this fundamental fitness principle. You cannot go over, under or around this issue. Proper hydration must be in your future if you want to have a brighter future. Have a great weekend! Drink your water and Sweat Until You Drip!

27- Do something today to improve your mind, spirit, and emotions. We can’t function every day physically at a high level if we ignore the other facets of our lives. We have to enjoy life, all of it, and in order to do so we must be mindful of our thoughts and feelings. Sundays tend to be good days to recharge all of our batteries. Pick up that book you’ve been reading. Go to your house of worship and spend some time with your Maker in fellowship with others. Get together with friends and family. Watch a sports even or a good movie. The list goes on and on. Be involved in the things that make you happy. If it’s supposed to be your “Day of Rest” from your particular exercise program and you can’t just “do nothing”, be active in a fun, lower intensity way that still gets your body moving without overtaxing the machine. Tomorrow’s Monday, whether we like it or not, so just ignore it and experience TODAY to the fullest!

28- It’s a new day, new week, new beginnings, new opportunities, and a new life. If you’ve been sitting on the fence and waiting to start your nutritional plan or exercise program, TODAY IS YOUR DAY! It is truly the first day of the rest of your life. If you’ve been taking a break, now’s the time to jump back in and pick up where you left off. And if you’re sticking with your plans and following the path toward your goals, keep it up! Every day continues your Winning Streak! Have a great Monday, great Week, and Great Life! Sweat Until You Drip!

29- Be open to new foods, prepared in new ways as you explore options to improve your nutrition. The stuff you’ve always eaten in the manners you’ve always prepared them may have gotten you in the rut where you want to get your weight and fitness in line. So why not branch out and experiment? Quinoa, endame, spinach, avocados, etc. may have never entered your mind or your body before, but they could be providing healthy benefits for you if you just try them. Substituting olive oil for over processed vegetable oils and margarine. Oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs. Fat free yogurt instead of sour cream. Websites are chock full of ideas. Today’s experiment for me was adding spinach to my chocolate Shakeology breakfast. Initially it sounded gross, but in actuality it was very good and even healthier for me. 1 scoop of chocolate Shakeology, 8 oz skim milk, ice, 1/4 cup raw walnuts, and 1/4 cup leaf spinach in the blender. The spinach didn’t alter the taste one bit, and the green flecks were rather interesting. Years ago I would probably rather have skipped breakfast instead of trying something new. That’s why I was 300 pounds and destined for an early grave. As I prepare for the next 50 years I plan to be open to all suggestions and recommendations that might help me in my day to day nutrition, since the rest of our lives will only happen one day at a time.

30- Stick with it! Never Quit! Don’t allow “taking a break” to become, “I give up”. Turning your life and your fitness around is hard. It was a million times easier to get out of shape and overweight than it will be to become fit and lose weight. But we’re talking about our very lives here. Do you want to spend extra time with your loved ones? Are there things on your bucket list that you want to accomplish before you die? Well, if you change your nutrition and exercise for the rest of your life, you will enable yourself to live longer and healthier, accomplishing the things you want to do before you leave this earth. Each morning when you get out of bed you have a clean slate upon which you will write the plan for yourself. Will you eat clean, drink your water, and exercise? If you’ve been taking a break, now is the perfect time to jump right back in. Your body doesn’t care if you’ve eaten like a pig or stayed on the couch like a slug these past few days, or weeks, or months, or years; it wants you to do something positive for yourself. TODAY! The walking you do today, the brownies and fried chicken you skip at lunch to eat a grilled chicken salad, and the water you drink instead of a Coke today will enable you to have just a little more time at the end of your life to hug your loved ones and tell them one last time that you love them. Compared to having the opportunity to see Sicily in my golden years, a double quarter pounder with cheese today pales in comparison. Have a great day and Sweat Until You Drip!

31- Make it a point to reach out and lend support, assistance, and encouragement to others who are on their fitness journey. Your help might be the catalyst that enables them to regain control over their lives and their bodies! This morning at the gym I saw an overweight young man struggling with the machines and the treadmill. In him I saw myself as the middle-aged, seemingly hopeless, fat guy that I was less than a year and a half ago. He looked scared and out of place and discouraged. I could almost hear him saying to himself, “What am I doing here? Look at all these fit people, why am I doing this to myself? It’s hopeless.” I went up to him right away and told him, “I just want you to know that I’m so proud of you for being here and working so hard. 17 months ago I weighed 300 pounds and I’ve lost 125 pounds so far by doing exactly what you’re doing now.” I showed him some pics on my iPhone of me as a fat slob, and told him, “Don’t ever give up. You can do this, and if you ever doubt it, find me at the gym and I’ll help you.” It took me all of 45 seconds to convey this message, but I’d like to think that this man will play it over and over again in his mind as he strives to regain his fitness. Just as Jesus came to help the sinners, not the righteous; fitness clubs and trails are to help the overweight and out of shape. Don’t look down on the people who are struggling, be proud of the fact that they are working. Give them words of encouragement and advice. Be their support system. You’ll get more out of helping them than they will out of being helped. I started the free motivational fitness group, Fit Over Forty, on facebook to provide positive motivational inspiration and it’s doing just that, but without interpersonal, face to face interaction with the people who need it the most I feel like I’m only scratching the surface. We can all do so much more as a team because we’re all in this together. To paraphrase Mr. Spock – Let’s ALL Live Long and Prosper!

32- Be prepared to adapt your nutritional and exercise programs to adjust to lifestyle changes. Just because you are traveling, or on vacation, or doing something different for a little while, do not take a break from working toward acheiving your goals. Your body runs 24/7 and doesn’t care if its waking up in a hotel room in a strange city. It needs proper nutrition and exercise to function well. Your fitness goals are long-term to enable you to extend your life, don’t take a break from doing the right thing for yourself just because you’re not sleeping in your own bed tonight, or this week. You may have to change your workout program for a few days, but still get your exercise in. Or you may get lucky and you can bring your Insanity DVD and play it in your laptop. If you belong to a national Gym chain, like Anytime Fitness, you may have a club nearby where you can go. Running on the beach in a new town can be a beautiful way to exercise. Do whatever you can to continue your fitness journey. Eating at strange restaurants in strange towns may present a problem for your nutrition. Prepare and pack a bunch of chicken breasts, fresh veggies, and fresh fruits. Bring your Shakeology and shaker with you. Pack protein bars. Bring a cooler. There are plenty of ways to not “fall off the wagon” regarding your proper nutrition even when you aren’t comfortably at home. Printing a copy of Michi’s Ladder and keeping it with you will help you choose healthier alternatives when you’re eating at restaurants or banquets so that you’re not feeling the anxiety of guilt when you get back home and prepare to step on your bathroom scale again for the first time. Enjoy the changes of scenery and explore new opportunities, but most of all, stay focused on the goals you’ve set for yourself and be prepared to do what it takes to achieve them.

33- Have your goal set in a way so that you can provide tangible, obvious positive reinforcement for yourself. As you’re working toward becoming more fit and thus, extending your life, you need to be your best Cheerleader. I’ve touched on this before, but it bears repeating because staying focused requires a 24/7 constant commitment to your nutrition and exercise plans. Measure yourself regularly and log your results. Photograph yourself in a variety of poses, and set it up on your computer so that you can compare and contrast his you look now versus how you looked earlier. Mark off the notches on your belt as you cinch it tighter and tighter around your waist. Take regular fit tests and be proud of how many more push-ups, or pull-ups, or switch kicks, etc that you can do now. Keep track of your running, or biking, or walking times and distances; then be aware of how your speed and endurance is increasing. And my favorite, have a great article of clothing that you want to be able to fit into, and keep trying it on periodically to see how much closer you are getting to being able to wear it. I have a pair of size 32 jeans that were bought for me in 2001 at Christmas under the hopes that my Post-Divorce Starvation Diet was going to have me losing enough weight to wear them. (I was in 34’s at the time). Unfortunately for me, starving myself halfway to death back then was an unhealthy way to lose weight. So once I started getting my life back in order I started putting weight back on with a vengeance. Those 32’s have hung in my closet, with the price tags still affixed, for over 11 years now. I haven’t been able to comfortably wear 32’s since 1988 before I was married. I try them on about every 2 weeks or so. They’ve been buttoning recently. I’ll wear them when the muffin top is gone. Maybe this week, maybe the next, maybe next month. No matter what, those jeans hanging in my closest help me stay focused on doing what it takes to achieve what I want to. And yes, I already have a pair of size 30’s hanging so that I can work on the next stage. Have a great day and keep your eyes on the prize. Enjoy the journey it takes to get where you want to be, and never, ever, give up.

34- If you’re just starting out on your Fitness Journey, make sure to check with your doctor to discuss your plans. Injuries and medical complications are nothing to play around with. If your doctor recommends that you start slowly, follow this advice! Beware of biting off more than you can chew. I’d recommend starting with stationary bikes and ellipticals first because they don’t pound your joints and feet. Getting good shoes is very important, but the soles of your feet take a beating. When I started this journey the best $50 I spent was at Walmart at the Dr Scholls kiosk in the pharmacy. You stand on sensors that evaluate your feet, arches, and your natural pressure points. Then they make a recommendation on the correct insole for you. Before I got the insoles, the soles of my feet would scream at me after walking, biking, or being on the elliptical. Now they never, ever hurt. I have 2 pairs that I alternate among my work shoes and athletic shoes. If you take care of your feet and the joints in your legs your chances of success in losing weight go way up!

Thanks to Tony Ferrante for his incredible inspiration!!!

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