Sunday, July 28, 2013

Does This BMI Chart Make Me Look Fat?

I was checking out the BMI tables on the National Institute of Health website recently (nerd alert).  For a lot of years, I thought the whole BMI thing was bunk, mainly because it kept telling me I was overweight.   These days when I talk to folks about the connection between health and weight, I often encounter a familiar resistance.  "It doesn't apply to me because I have a muscular build" or "I have big bones" or "I'm husky" or "those charts are crap."

Hey, I've been there.

Now that I have a 'normal' BMI (per the NIH), I've come to realize that the BMI tables are not crap.  But first let's look at how the NIH defines "overweight," and "obese."  The NIH website says "Overweight is having extra body weight from muscle, bone, fat, or water.  Obesity is having a high amount of extra body fat."  Interesting, but what does this mean?  It means that the NIH has already accounted for muscular builds and big bones.

Certainly there are exceptions: the BMI chart doesn't apply to Arnold Schwarzenegger or Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson.  Indeed, the NIH states that the BMI chart "... may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build."  Conversely, "It may underestimate body fat in older persons and others who have lost muscle."  But I'm not Arnold, and chances are, if you're using performance enhancing substances to shed & shred, you're probably not reading this blog anyway.

But how athletic can someone be before he trips into the obese column?  To find out, I toodled on over to the CrossFit Games website, and had a look at the leaderboard.  Have you seen these people?  Lean.  Cut.  Probably the fittest humans on the planet.  How do they stack up on the BMI chart?  Of the top ten men on the leaderboard, most had a BMI in the 25-30 range; only one had a BMI over 30.  Women trended even lower.

So what does that mean for you and me?  It means that if you have a BMI of 30 or more, you're carrying too much fat, period.  And if you have a BMI of 25 - 29.9, you're probably still carrying too much fat.  Unless of course you're competing in the CrossFit Games.  Then you're probably okay.

Big deal, you think.  What difference does a little extra fat really make anyway?  I'm healthy, right?

For now, maybe you're right.  But what about later on?  What quality of life to you want to have later in life?  How do you want to live in ten years?  In twenty?  In fifty?

The NIH answers the question Why Is A Healthy Weight Important?  "Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is important for overall health and can help you prevent and control many diseases and conditions.  If you are overweight or obese, you are at higher rise of developing serious health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers.  That is why maintaining a healthy weight is so important: It helps you lower your risk for developing these problems, helps you feel good about yourself, and gives you more energy to enjoy life."

Why should you pay attention to the BMI tables?  Your future depends on it.  Your doctor and your insurance underwriter use it when they assess you.  You should too.

Be honest with yourself.

Use the BMI calculator.  Find out where you are.  Figure out where you want to be.

Now do something about it.

You are the dominant force in your own life when it comes to creating health.  No one is going to do it for you.  "My doctor will save me" you think.  But your doctor can't do any more than manage symptoms as they appear.  There is no magic bullet.  The little daily choices you make today will do more for your health, now and in the future, than anything your doctor can prescribe.  Ever.

Not sure where to turn?  Join me!  My wife and I are FREE Certified Health Coaches with Take Shape For Life.  We can help you quickly and safely attain a healthy weight, and learn the habits necessary to maintain it for the rest of your life.  Contact us and let's create health in your life too!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Moving Mountains

I watched a TED talk this morning by Philippe Petit, the high-wire walker featured in the 2008 documentary Man On Wire.  Petit is an expert story teller, and in less than twenty minutes gives a riveting synopsis of a life of beating the impossible.  My favorite line comes right at the end, when he says -

"When you see mountains, remember - they can be moved."

How often does losing weight and "getting healthy" seem impossible?  I can't remember how many times I tried and failed to make lasting changes in my life with regard to health and weight.  That is until I discovered Take Shape For Life.

Take Shape For Life is not a diet.  It is a way of overhauling your way of life.  See, I knew that my way of life had created a problem that needed fixing, and that another diet was not the solution.  By forging new habits, I've been able to reorient my way of life toward optimal health and longevity.

In other words, mountains have been moved.

Has your way of life created a weight problem you need to address?  Have you tried and failed to lose weight and keep it off?  Is your weight causing other problems with your health?  Do you have mountains you'd like to move?

I am a FREE Health Coach with Take Shape For Life, and if you're coachable, I can help.  Contact me, and let's reorient your way of life toward optimal health and longevity.

Be inspired, and never forget that mountains can be moved.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Corrections Of Course

Continuing with the whole explorer/navigator theme, consider what may have become of Cortez or Columbus if they had been off by a few degrees when they embarked on their voyages?  When sailing, one is constantly checking and re-checking the ship's heading, making course corrections all along the way.  Where might they have ended up if they had gotten lazy or sloppy?  What would the world map look like today if Columbus landed in Newfoundland or Brazil instead of the Bahamas?  Our world might be a different place.

Sometimes it's difficult to tell what kind of progress we're making with regard to weight loss and health.  I know in my own life there have been many times where I've hit a plateau, or even gone up a pound or two (or five), and I start to ask questions: "So what?  Is it really that important?  I don't feel all that different - it's not like I'm sick or anything.  Does it really matter how much I weigh?"

At moments like these, I need to make a mental course correction and reorient myself toward health.  Because YES, it matters!

Dr. A says:
"In a state of non-sickness, time is against you.  It may go unnoticed until one day you're so fatigued that you finally go to your doctor and find out you have diabetes.  Your health path has led you from non-sick to sick...  The good news is that the non-sick can usually reach optimal health in a relatively short amount of time." -Dr. A's Habits of Health, p. 12
Mental course corrections, made repeatedly over time, result in physical course corrections: every pound lost, every inch of body measurement, every dress size - each of these is a degree of physical course correction that may seem trivial now, but is going to pay off big time later on in life (even now, your body is thanking you as inflammation subsides, blood pressure reduces, insulin stabilizes, and pressure on joints starts to lift).

Sometimes you're just a degree off your heading, and the course correction is a minor one; sometimes you've let yourself drift, and have to do a 180.  In any case, these course corrections - made daily if necessary - are what will ensure you maintain your heading toward optimal health.

What's your bearing?  Where's your head at?  How's your body?  Are you healthy, sick, or somewhere in between?  Are you pointed in the right direction?  That all depends on your goals I suppose, but if your goals include things like health and longevity, then the direction you're headed today makes all the difference in the world.

The journey is long, and is bound to pass through troubled waters, unexpected storms, and for many, uncharted territory.  Check your heading, and correct your course.  Someday soon, you'll discover a new world of optimal health.

Want to orient yourself toward optimal health but not sure where to turn?  I am a FREE Certified Health Coach with Take Shape For Life, and I can help you find your way!  Contact me, and let's get you headed in the right direction.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Line In The Sand

When starting out on the journey to lose weight and create health, one of the first things we ought to do is take a "before" picture.  As in, "this was me before I started losing weight."  Yet a lot of folks don't want to do it.  Why is that?

Okay, I'll be the first to admit: it's not fun standing in front of a camera when you're thick.  It just isn't.  I can't remember how many times I plastered on a smile and said Cheese! for the camera when I was overweight.  And that was at family functions and other events where the photo was pretty much an obligation.  I would do all I could to make myself look small.  "If I crane my neck and hold this angle, maybe the camera won't pick up my multi-chin" or "I'll just hide behind so-and-so, so nobody can see the gut."  Easy to do when you're 6'3".  You shorties out there have my sympathy.

But actually posing for a picture, the purpose of which is to accurately expose one's present physical condition?  Yikes!

It is critical that you do this.

I can't emphasize this enough.  The photo marks the pivot point in your life, the moment when everything changed.  You're saying, if only to yourself, "I am committing to this process, I am going to make this life change, I am going on this journey, and THIS is where I started."  It marks the day you drew a line in the sand.

Then, if you're feeling brave, post it up on your home page, and make that commitment public.  Scary?  Heck yeah!  But you will be amazed at the outpouring of support, sometimes from complete strangers, as you venture forth.

Someday you'll look at that picture and remember "Yup, that was me.  That's where I came from.  That's where I started.  And I am never going back there again."

"Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it." -George Santayana, philosopher

If you've been longing to lose weight and get healthy, but don't know where to start, I can help.  I am a FREE Certified Health Coach with Take Shape For Life, and my mission is to help people create health in their lives.  Find out more here, or email me directly at

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Reflections of Grit

Grit (noun): the tendency to work strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. (Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit).

Most of us think we have grit.  Certainly we can recognize its value when it comes to the pursuit of personal accomplishments and, well, anything else worth having.

Career.  Relationships.  Health.

But once in a while it's good to look outside of ourselves to see what Grit looks like from someone else's perspective.

Enter Peter Kraft Sr. (age 50) and Peter Kraft Jr. (age 20), from Gainesville, FL.  This father & son team just finished the Tour Divide, but not before it nearly finished them.

The Tour Divide is a grassroots mountain bike race tour that begins in Banff, Canada, and follows the continental divide to the Mexican border.  2700+ miles, and over 200,000 feet in elevation (i.e. climbing).  Anyone who finishes this non-race has some considerable measure of grit.

This year's event began on June 14th.  The guy who finished first, Mike Hall, did it in less than 15 days.


Forest Baker and Eric Foster are going for the so-called triple crown of endurance mountain biking: having already completed the Arizona Trail Race in April, they've finished the Tour Divide, and are now headed to the starting line of the Colorado Trail Race, which starts on July 21st.

Double serving of Grit.

Peter Kraft Sr. & Jr?  They rolled up to the Mexican border last night around 9 p.m., 31 days after they left Banff.  Not exactly a course record.


Consider that these two have been preparing for this event for three years.  Anyone who makes it to the starting line deserves a medal, and these two lined up in Banff with the rest of the pack.  Then they rode for 2000+ miles to New Mexico, where disaster struck.  First, Kraft Sr. crashed.  Kraft Jr. accompanies Sr. in the ambulance for the hour-plus ride to the hospital, where Sr. is stitched back up.  Then, they hitch a ride back to the course, get back on the bikes, and they KEEP GOING.  Then, Kraft Jr. gets violently ill.  Throwing-up-all-night ill.  In the middle of nowhere.  They find a park ranger, who assesses the damage and tells them they're in trouble.  Another ambulance ride to another hospital.

At this point, I'm almost hoping they throw in the towel.  "It's been a heck of a ride boys.  You've earned your battle scars.  Now go on home and lick your wounds."

Do they quit?  Nope.

Jr. recovers.

     The go back to the course.

          They get back on the bikes.

              And they finish the race.


Off the charts.  They ought to make a movie about these two.

Well done Krafts.  Whenever I think about bailing on, well, anything, I'm gonna remember the name Kraft, and think again.


Monday, July 15, 2013

My Dinghy's On Fire!

When Cortez reached the new world, he burned his ships to ensure he and his crew could not go back the way they came.  Onward!

I burned a little ship of my own the other day.  Okay, maybe not a "ship" per se - more like a dinghy.

We just returned home from family vacation in Carlsbad, our annual week at the beach.  It was bliss.  However, vacations can pose a challenge when it comes to making productive eating decisions.  Different sights, different people, different kitchen.  All of these "differents" can throw the routine off, if you know what I mean.  Let's just say not all my decisions were productive ones in light of my health goals.  Nothing major, but enough to make me start to question my ability to maintain for the long term.

When we returned home, I was reminded of where I was a couple years ago.  As I unpacked, I found my old swimming trunks tucked away in a drawer.  My "big daddy" trunks.

For years, I've had two pairs of swimming trunks: my "fit daddy" goal trunks, and my "big daddy" trunks.  In the past, I'd take both pairs on vacation, hoping against hope that I could get the fit daddy trunks up past my rump.  I would try, then abandon the effort, break out the big daddy's, sigh as I slipped them on, then pretend I wasn't embarrassed to go outside without a shirt.

Yup, there they are.  Don't melt your retinas.

Last year was the first year I was actually able to get the "fit daddy" trunks on.  This year, I didn't even pack the "big daddy" trunks.  When we got home, there they were.

See, I've kept them around, just in case.  Just in case it all goes to pot.  Just in case I throw it all away and blow up again.  Just in case I get selfish and lazy again, and decide that instant gratification is more important than fitness and longevity.

I cut them in half and threw them in the trash.  Just like that.  Because there will not be a "just in case."  There will not be a next time.  I burned my dinghy.  Because--

I.  Am.  Not.  Going.  Back.

Arguably, shredding a pair of shorts may be a small milestone to some (I've seen my formidable wife Stacy dispose of yard-bags filled with old "big girl" clothes).  But it was a big deal to me.


Do you have a ship you wish you could burn?  Any "big boy" clothes you wish you could give away?  I can help!  I am a Certified Health Coach with Take Shape For Life, and I can help you achieve your health goals.  Hey, life is too short to pretend to not be embarrassed at the beach.  Join me, and let's move forward together.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

If We Don't Change Anything, Nothing Changes

People say change is hard.  But the hardest part of change is not the change itself, but recognizing that it’s necessary.  Somehow, we need to realize that we’re oblivious or in denial about certain aspects of our lives, and acknowledge that we alone are responsible to actually do something about it.

Outside Magazine recently published an article titled "YOU'RE DELUSIONAL ABOUT YOUR HEALTH."  Subtle, but it hits close to home. 

I was at a conference during my "thick" years, and one of the attendees and I sported remarkably similar hairstyles.  Naturally I thought I rocked it and that he didn't, in particular because I viewed him as "thick" and myself as, well, less thick.  Fine, I viewed myself as svelte, and gloated to myself about how lean & mean I looked.  A month later I received the quarterly newsletter from the conference sponsor, and there on the cover was a photo of me and the other similarly coiffed dude.  And we looked the same.  Same hair, same gut, same chins (yes, more than one each).  The.  Same.  If anything, I was the thick one.  Talk about deluded.

We train ourselves to see our bodies in a certain way.  We think, “Oh, I’m not that thick.”  Really?  Then we catch ourselves off guard and get a glimpse of the truth.  Ever been tagged in a candid photo on Facebook and not recognize yourself?  Ever catch a reflection in a window or a mirror as you round a corner at the mall?  Who is that person?

We become desensitized to our own condition.  Like the “cat lady” who lives alone because she can no longer smell the dozen-plus felines that keep her company, we become desensitized to our physical condition.  We simply get used to it. 

Admitting we have a problem is the first step to recovery, right?

So let’s say you have a vague notion of the truth about yourself, but you don’t really know what to do.  How does one create health?  For a long time after my delusion shattered, I had no clue.  All I knew was that something had to change.  I just didn’t know what, or how, or… anything.  So for a long time, I did nothing.

And you know what I found?  If you don’t change anything, nothing changes.  Hoping and wishing and pining and dreaming for change doesn’t get the job done.  It’s not until we actually do something about the problem that things stand a chance of turning around. 

So if you want optimal health in your life but you don't know how to create it, chances are you're probably not doing anything intentional about it.  Hey, there’s good news: you’ve already nailed the hard part, realizing the need to change. 

If all you lack is the tools, then I’m your guy.  I have been where you are now, and I’m telling you it’s possible.  Once we have the tools to make the change, the change itself is not that difficult.  I’m a Health Coach with Take Shape For Life, and I can help.  Contact me, and let’s make the change.

“It's never too late to be what you might have been.”  –George Elliot.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

When was the last time you had it?

When was the last time you had it?  High school?  College?  Remember what it was like?  How good it felt?

I am speaking of course about a fit & healthy body.

For me it was high school.  I was chubby growing up.  Lots of hoodies and baggy jeans.  Then in high school I started to stretch out.  I dabbled with wrestling, cross country, and cycling.  Then in 11th grade I got involved with a recreational gymnastics class at a local club.  Nothing competitive, but I was there 3-4 time per week, working out and having fun.  Best shape of my life.

It's been downhill ever since.

Not because anything in particular happened that prevented me from pursuing health and fitness.  I left home, went to college, met my wife, got married.  Real life in progress.  But as far as fitness & health goes, I never set any serious goals for myself.  And like the man said, if you aim at nothing, you'll hit every time.  [citation needed - I have no idea who said it]

We get to a certain age and we start to let go of those ideas we once had for ourselves.  We accept the loss.  Why is that?  Old habits that won't die?  Too much history going away from an ideal?  We've taught ourselves that because we've spent so many years going one direction, it's too hard to turn around now; we've learned that because it hasn't happened yet, it's probably not gonna happen any time soon, if ever.

We just happen to be wrong.

What would you think if I suggested that the best shape of your life was in fact ahead of you, not behind you?  Seem daunting?  Impossible?  Fantasy?  Not on your life!  I'm here to tell you it is possible to turn the ship around.

Okay, full disclosure.  I'm not there yet, not by a long shot.  I still have goals I'm pursuing with regard to musculature and endurance capacity.  What I can tell you is that I weigh less now than I did when I graduated from high school.  The difference is, now I know my goal, and I know what I need to do to make it happen.

Wanna join me?

If you've accepted the loss of an idea you once had of yourself, a "you" you once believed was possible, contact me.  I'm a Health Coach with Take Shape For Life, and I'm telling you it is possible to turn it around.  In fact, it's not that complicated.  Heck, I did it.  You can too.

Monday, July 1, 2013

No How vs. Know How

So maybe you read my blog from yesterday, and a question pops up in your mind.  You think "OK, if attaining optimal health is such a deep matter of personal integrity, what took you so long to do something about it?"

Fair question.  Why now?

Short answer: I didn't know how.  I lacked the tools.  I had no clue how to get it done. 

Look, I've always wanted to be fit and healthy; I've always wanted to have the energy I needed to keep up with my family and pursue my interests; I've always felt inner conviction about letting myself go.  But until recently, I never knew how to address the issue without having to master complex nutritional theorems and/or execute rigorous hours-long workouts in the gym. 

Some people are built for that kind of life.  I am not one of them.  

Thinking about the Wants and the Whys was too painful because I didn't have the How.  Without tools I could use, my longing for health never got past the wish stage.  Instead, I ignored my convictions and stuffed my feelings (into billowy shirts & pleated pants), hoping that someday maybe something would change and my body would somehow just kinda, I dunno, get more healthy on its own. Maybe?

Hope is not a strategy, people.  No one is coming to bail you out of you. 

It wasn't until I got a Health Coach and started to adopt the Habits of Health that I've been able to make optimal health a reality in my life.  Now I want to help you.

If you long for optimal health in your life but have been frustrated in your attempts to achieve it; if you've learned to ignore your convictions because it just seems overwhelming; if you've stuffed your Wants & Whys because you can't figure out the How, contact me.   I am a FREE Health Coach with Take Shape For Life, and I can help you get it done.