I typically tie some healthy tips in with some aspect of deer and deer hunting. These are 2 of my passions. For this post, I really couldn’t find a way to tie the two together.

You see, one of the most important things for us to remember if we want to improve our health is to set manageable goals for ourselves as we try to make the necessary changes to our lifestyle. What I mean is this… if you start every day with a cup of coffee and a doughnut it is ridiculous to think that tomorrow you will eat a healthy breakfast and keep that habit the rest of your life. Instead, your goals should be a “comfortable stretch” for you. Using the example above, eat the doughnut and drink the coffee, just eat a banana as well. As you make progress your body will begin to crave the healthier options and actually you will feel bad physically when you do eat something junky. Deer do not eat  junk food and they don’t have to set health goals. Their goals are simple: find enough food for the day and don’t get eaten by predators!

I have made some changes to my lifestyle and I saw some immediate results. I am about 12 weeks into these changes and they are starting to get a little boring. So, I have set some new goals for myself. Some of these goals are short-term and some are longer term goals.

One of the short-term goals is to complete a half marathon. I have entered the Murfreesboro Middle Half and I will be running the 13.1 miles on October 16, 2010. I don’t particularly enjoy running, but I have been at the finish line for several marathons/half-marathons and as I watched the competitors cross the finish line each of them had such an incredible look of accomplishment on their face. I decided I wanted that same feeling of accomplishment. So, I have been training for this half marathon and I can’t wait to cross the finish line come October 16th!

So, what are your health goals? Have you set some in the past that you need to revisit? Are there any new ones you want to set? Goals keep us focused and are a great way to measure our progress. Make them a stretch for you, but make them believable. If I can do it, I know you can too!

Deer love persimmons. They also love apples. They love acorns and blackberries and corn. But do you know why they love these food items? Each of these foods play a specific role in the nutritional demands of deer. The acorns provide protein for muscle development; the persimmons, apples and other items provide complex carbohydrates for energy.  In other words, they are using these foods as fuel. The deer do not have an emotional attachment to these foods. They don’t eat because they are stressed. They don’t eat a bushel of blackberries because they had a fight with their boyfriend!

I don’t mean to sound insensitive because I have been there too. I remember the day I had to put my dog to sleep; it was just a few months ago. I specifically remember eating some junky food. I don’t remember what I was eating, but I do remember thinking that I was emotionally eating.

I would encourage you to change your perspective on how you think about foods. So many times we all say things like, “I love hamburgers” or “I can’t stand broccoli”… these statements have attached emotions to food. Instead, we should look at food as fuel for our bodies.

When you pull into the gas station to refuel your car, you want to make sure you are getting quality gasoline… good fuel. If you were to put poor quality fuel into your car, you would get poor performance out of it. Do you think your body is any different? If you put poor quality foods (fuel) into it, what kind of performance are you going to get out of it?

I see this action at work in my own body and its performance. Many of you know the level of fitness I am trying to achieve personally and we have discussed some of the intense workouts that I do. If I haven’t fueled my body properly I cannot get the intensity out of it that I want and my workouts suffer. Even in everyday life though, how many people feel that afternoon crash? Most people think they need more sleep… if you are getting between 6-8 hours of sleep as an adult, then you are getting plenty. Most of the afternoon crash is from poor nutrition. Your body has run out (or maybe never had) good quality fuel. If you are not satisfied with the performance you are getting out of your body, then you need to think about the quality of fuel you are putting into it.

I know this is easier said than done, but people are doing it every day. I encourage you to watch shows like “The Biggest Loser” to see how people are emotionally attached to food and ways to break that attachment. If you are curious as to what is good food for fuel here is one tip I can give you: make sure your food item doesn’t have a label on it, that way you know it is in the form God made it. The more food you eat the way God made it the more healthy you will be. And that obviously includes your body’s daily performance.

Remember, food is fuel. As you make your dietary choices each day ask yourself what kind of fuel quality you are likely to get out of what you are going to eat. Do this consistently and watch your body’s performance go from being a broken down 1975 Ford Pinto to a highly tuned Formula One race car!

About once every 2 weeks I will ask my boys in a real excited voice, “Do you know what today is?!” They always say what day of the week it is and I reply, “No, it is one day closer to deer season!” and they just laugh and talk about how weird I can be. I am surprised they haven’t caught on yet because I have been doing it since the end of last deer season. In all honesty, it is one of my driving forces. I know that deer season is coming and I need to get things done so I have the time to deer hunt during the season.

There is also another lesson in that line of thinking though. If you get up everyday and ask yourself, “Do you know what today is?” one of the best answers you can come up with is, “This is the first day of the rest of my life!” I know this is a mantra that is spread around the self-improvement/self-motivation circles, but it is really true. If you are still looking down on the tulips (as opposed to their roots!) then today is a good day.

You see, when you get up each and every day you have a choice. You can choose to make today a great day or you can choose to wallow in the muck that is all around us. Yes, there is plenty of muck around us and there always will be. It is your choice on what you give your attention.

In light of the flooding that took place last weekend here in Nashville, we have a lot of muck (literally and figuratively) to deal with. We have a choice. Do we have a pity party for ourselves or do we roll up our sleeves and get to work clearing up the muck? I am glad to say that I see a lot of people rolling up their sleeves and the muck is already starting to go away.

The school that my sons attend was completely flooded throughout the first floor. When I was in the school 2 days after the flood, the watermark on the walls was up to my chest. That is approximately 4 feet of water in the school. Because of the help of hundreds of volunteers, a lot of the schools supplies were saved, but there was a lot lost as well. Our choice as a school community has been to use this as an opportunity to show God’s love through the many thousands of volunteer hours that it is going to take to get the school open in August.

What is the muck in your life? Is it a health problem? Family issue? Lost job? We all have them… no one’s is worse than any other. It is your choice where you put your focus.  An analogy I heard one time was about changing a baby’s diaper. It is your choice: do you focus on WHAT is in the diaper or WHO is in the diaper? It is still the same diaper, it is a matter of your focus. Change your focus and you can change your world!

We recently received word that the 2,500 acre hunting club that is right beside our 1,100 acres is clear cutting their timber. Don’t know why, but they are. This presents us with a great opportunity. With all the work we have done this spring with food plot planting, the 60+ fruit trees added to the property and completing some over-do maintenance our upcoming deer season is poised to be one of the best ever. You see, all the deer from the 2,500 acres are simply moving onto our property because they are finding ample food and cover. I cannot wait for the opening of archery in September!

This situation got me thinking about how opportunities can present themselves to us throughout our lives. Some opportunities are pretty straightforward and easy to read; others aren’t so visible. One thing all opportunities have in common is that we have to see and recognize it as an opportunity to “take advantage” of it.

Many times people mistakenly call opportunities “challenges.” In other words, their perspective about the opportunity is off. They are not looking at the possibilities, they only see the difficulties. This is particularly true about our health. Let me give you an example of someone taking an apparent challenge and turning it into an opportunity.

My mother in law recently had a mild heart attack. I personally don’t consider any heart attack mild, but this is what her doctors have told her. She is well aware that the reason for the heart attack is lifestyle choices she has made throughout her life. She eats fast food a lot and this is the primary cause of her heart troubles.

Well, instead of turning into a “Woe is me!” kind of person, she has accepted this as an opportunity to really make some changes in her health. And, my father in law is on board with her as well. (He is not in the best shape either!) Since her release from the hospital she has lost over 10 pounds and has not been to a fast food joint once! I really have a good feeling about her future health because of her perspective on this “opportunity.”

What kind of opportunities have you been facing? How would you rate your perspective on these opportunities? Do you need to change the perspective? Maybe you need someone else to help you see another perspective. Time and time again I see people making small changes to their lifestyle habits that reap big rewards. I would love to help you with your perspective so that you can have some of these same rewards.

This past weekend I started the process of turning over new ground for my backyard garden. I live in middle Tennessee and I quickly discovered why the University of Tennessee’s fight song is “Rocky Top Tennessee!” My first pass with the garden tiller threw me around like I was riding a wild horse. I slowed the motor on the tiller down and tried again. Same result. I tried using less pressure on the back-end of the tiller and this seemed to cause less jumping. However, I was making very little progress breaking up the dirt. The tiller I was using was borrowed from a friend who has a small farm not far from my house. I called him to ask what I was doing wrong and he said he would come over and take a look.

When he arrived I had got a system going and things seemed to be improving but not very quickly. At the current pace I was going to run out of daylight before I finished tilling. He decided to give it a try and the tiller jumped around on him as well. I was standing to the side of the tiller and I discovered the problem… rocks, and they were big ones. I’m not talking pebbles, these were the size of frisbees and anywhere from 2-4 inches thick! And there were lots of them too! After he took several passes with the tiller he said what I already had thought. This process was going to take too long.

I didn’t want to give up on my garden and this spot in my yard was the only place suitable for growing vegetables. Like I said, my friend has a small farm and he offered to go get his tractor with a tiller on it and do it with that. I thought it was quite silly to use a farm tractor on my small garden, but he said it was no big deal and I really wanted the garden. So he drove home, loaded the tractor and brought it up.

Sure enough, the tractor made it a lot easier, but there were still a lot of rocks. We ended up making a pile of them as we picked them out and it was about 3 feet high, 2 feet wide and 5 feet long. I was amazed at the amount of rocks that came out of that small spot in my yard.

I got to thinking about all those rocks and the obstacle it created to me starting my garden. I am sure you can relate to this. We have all faced obstacles in our lives. In particularly, I hear a lot about obstacles when people try to improve their health. These obstacles usually boil down to weak excuses. There are the classics, like “I don’t have time,” or “I am so exhausted when I get home from work,” or “I hate to run.” Then I am encouraged when I see someone who has a true physical health impairment/challenge and yet they find ways to get out and be active. Other excuses are, “It’s expensive to eat healthy.” How much is your health worth? How expensive is it to get sick?

We are in a unique point in history. Healthcare reform has passed Congress and is here to stay. If you think it is going to bring great things to our health, talk to someone from Canada. I have never met anyone from Canada who is happy with the healthcare that their government provides them. That is why so many of them cross the border into the US to get the medical procedures they need.

If you don’t want to be a part of this system, you have to take charge of your health right now. Get rid of those “ROCKS” in your life that are keeping you from getting healthy. There is no time like the present to get started. I would  love to help you if you need some direction.

Friday March 26, 2010 was a sad day for me. I had to have my dog Baxter, put to sleep. He was 15 years old and had lived a good life. He became part of our family when we still lived in Atlanta. My wife and I had just bought our first house and it had a great fenced in back yard. I wanted to get a dog and I wanted a hunting breed. A wife of a friend of mine had a co-worker with a beagle pup he was giving away. We agreed on a place to meet and I picked up Baxter and our journey together began.

That was October of 1995 and through a bit of miscommunication, I thought Baxter was only 8 weeks old. If so, that would have been great timing because I was in the middle of deer season and didn’t have time to take him to the woods to train him how to hunt rabbits. God’s timing is always better than ours and instead of being 8 weeks old, Baxter was actually 8 months old. I say that God’s timing is always better because 2 weeks after I got Baxter I tore my ACL in my right knee and had to have surgery. Walking an 8 week old puppy trying to potty train him would have been extremely difficult on crutches! Because of the surgery and the loss of hunting time, Baxter quickly became a house pet.

He still enjoyed heading out to the woods with me though. Even though he had no idea what he was trailing, you could always tell when he got on the trail of another animal. The baying of a beagle in the woods is a wonderful sound and Baxter to could vocalize with the best of them! We spent many hours in the woods together.

He was such an easy going dog. With my graduation from chiropractic school, we decided to move to Nashville, TN and Baxter never missed a beat. No matter where we lived, Baxter always seemed to be happy. I think his favorite place to live was our house with the screened in back porch. He would sit out on the porch for hours. He had a dog door that would let him out to the yard whenever he wanted.

With the birth of our 2 sons, again Baxter showed how great a dog he was. We have a great picture of Jake sleeping in bed when he was only 6 weeks old and Baxter is laying right beside him sleeping as well. It is priceless! As many times as each of our boys tugged on his ears or pulled his tail, Baxter always sat there and let them do what they wanted. They loved him!

It is funny how an animal can become so much a part of our family. Baxter was a great dog and I did my share of crying on Friday. Do animals go to heaven? I don’t know, but I tend to think they do. Even if they don’t, I still have plenty of great memories to remind me of him. I will miss you Baxter! Thanks for being a great dog!

For a few weeks every 2 years we get to see the most amazing athletes in the world perform on a stage we call “The Olympics.” Whatever sport they participate in, whether its summer or winter, their training regimen, nutritional intake and positive mental attitude make for an amazing study for someone interested in Wellness. Have you ever watched one of the behind the scenes stories on an Olympic athlete? Their dedication to wellness is awe-inspiring!

What would it take to incorporate some of their routines into your lifestyle? I don’t recommend eating 10,000 calories a day like Michael Phelps does, but I am sure there are certain things we can learn from their training routine. If you want to improve your health, I suggest you begin to pay attention to some of their habits.

First of all, these athletes definitely get out and move. I don’t recall anyone winning the gold medal in “Arm chair reclining speed!” In my opinion, improvement in health starts with moving. Even if your diet is horrible, begin with moving because innately your body is going to begin to crave better foods. You simply cannot perform physical fitness on a diet of hamburgers and french fries. I think it is incredibly funny that 2 of the biggest sponsors of the Olympics are Coke and McDonald’s! There is no way those athletes could perform at the high levels of competition with that junk in them. Your body is no different. By getting out and moving, you will begin to crave better foods. This will begin to improve your diet by default.

So what kind of moving should you be doing? I am not a big proponent of long periods of cardio routines. For those of you just beginning a fitness routine, body weight exercises like push ups, sit ups, squats, chair dips will keep you busy for at least a year. If you do these exercises at a high intensity, your cardiovascular system will get plenty of work and therefore no extra time on the treadmill will be needed! Try this simple routine: 5 push ups, 10 sit ups and 15 squats (that is one round). How many rounds can you do in 20 minutes? A good goal would be 12-15 rounds!

The picture above asks a good question. Which of these athletes spent more time doing cardio type exercises? Which do you think is healthier? Like I said, I am not a big proponent of long cardio workouts. Short, high intensity workouts are much better for achieving wellness and they save you time as well!

Nutrition is also a key component of being healthy. I know I keep coming back to the basics of eating more food the way God made it, but it really is a recipe for success. The typical American diet is full of processed foods that are not even close to the way God made it originally. Wheat is a perfect example. Try a Google search for gluten allergies or gluten-free diet and see how many articles come up. The reason for these problems is 2 fold: wheat is a relatively new form of food for us. In other words, our ancestors did not eat that much wheat. Secondly, the wheat they did eat was not processed. It was completely whole grain. Look at all the foods today that have processed wheat in them: pasta, bread, cereals, cakes, pastries… the list could go on for quite a while! I cannot stress the importance of eating more God made foods!

Finally, have you ever seen an Olympic athlete that was a pessimist? I have never heard one say, “Well, I don’t know if I have what it takes to make it to the finals. I guess I will just get out there and see what happens.” These guys and gals are pumped up about competing and are out there to give it their best. Did you watch the movie “Cool Runnings” about the Jamaican bobsled team? Here are 4 guys up against great odds and yet they had great attitudes about the competition! Our attitude in life should be the same. My favorite definition of success is getting up one more time than you are knocked down. Life is rough, get over it! You will get knocked down… bounce back up and move on.

You would have to be living under a rock to not hear all the talk in Washington about health care reform. The White House wants to pass “reform” that would provide coverage for all Americans. No matter what side of the political aisle you sit on, the decisions being made right now in Congress will effect you and your children for years to come.

Have you ever thought about the healthcare plan for animals such as the white tail deer? It is certainly a plan that needs no reform. Let’s take a look at what animals do for their health. I am sure there are things we can learn from them.

Let’s look at their diet. They eat what God provides for them. Nothing else. “Yeah, but we are humans and we have been given the ability to reason and make new things,” you may argue. I counter with, “You really think you are smarter than God?!?” In all seriousness, if we were to change our diets to include more foods the way God made them we would be healthier. The more processed food you eat, the less healthy you will be… study after study proves this. What is processed food? Almost anything that comes in a package is processed. When grocery shopping, stay out of the aisles of packaged foods and only shop around the perimeter of the store.

What about their exercise? I can’t remember the last time I saw a deer sitting down watching TV or playing a computer game! Again, I  am joking, but to be healthy we definitely need to be moving. Fitness needs to be part of your daily routine. You may say that you don’t have time, you are too busy. Let me ask you this, do you have time to be sick? Fitness doesn’t take a trip to the gym and 2 hours spent there! You can incorporate fitness into your daily routine. Also, there are more efficient ways to workout than spending 45 minutes on a treadmill!

For true healthcare reform to take place in America, we need to change our way of thinking. The “healthcare” system we have in place is not “health” care… it is “sickness” care. Our grandparents were excited to get “hospitalization” coverage from their employers. This type of insurance only covered the major medical expenses of hospital stays. They were responsible for keeping themselves healthy and for the most part, they did a good job of it. Now with the pharmaceutical industry promising us a pill for every ill, our mindset has become one of waiting for that magic pill instead of taking care of our health now. So, without changing the thought process about “healthcare” we will not be able to change the direction it is heading just by providing more insurance coverage for more “sickness care.” Let me ask you a question in closing… If we are going broke with our current system of insurance coverage paying for sickness care, what will insuring more people for sickness care do to the dollar amount being spent?

Last weekend we had a workday on our hunting property. I say “our” even though I do not own a single blade of grass there. You see, I was invited 3 years ago as a guest to hunt this farm. Last year I was invited back a few more times and then this year, I was granted my own key to the place (can you hear the angels singing?!?) This property is about 1,100 acres nestled in the hills of middle Tennessee. The only use of this farm is deer and turkey hunting. It has a cozy 4 bedroom farmhouse on it that is “guy cool.” What I mean by that is the sheets and bedspreads on the beds are camouflage, there are several mounts (deer, duck and one full body lynx) around the place, ATVs to use and a cedar paneled room to keep your hunting clothes in to mask your scent. It is every bit as nice as some of the places you see on the TV hunting shows.

Even with all of these amenities, the farm needs some maintainance to keep it producing quality deer and turkey. For various reasons, the farm has been slightly neglected over the past few years. Not completely, mind you… enough was being done to still use the facility, but it was not kept up to its premium operating status. As a group this past fall we decided to get the place back up to snuff. This past Saturday we got together and fired up the chain saws and went over the 1,100 acres on all the ATV trails and cleared all the trees that had fallen across the trails. We were going to get some of the food plots tilled over as well, but because of the neglect of the past few years, the tractor was not in proper working order so it is now in the shop being repaired. We will have several more workdays over the next few months to get the farm ready for this fall.

I have only been hunting on the farm for 3 years now and therefore have not seen it at its peak. The guys who have been there for years tell of great trips in the past and how certain food plots were known to draw deer from a certain direction and others were known for… well you get the idea.

The current status of the farm reminds me of how many people take care of their health. They do enough just to get by. They may each vegetables every once in a while, go to the gym and talk to all their friends (instead of working out) just to say that they “had a good workout today,” and even take a multivitamin because they know its good for them. Heaven forbid that they actually put a little effort into their health. I don’t want to pick on a hunting friend of mine, but this year as he and I were dragging a deer up a hill to load it onto the ATV, he asked for a short break to catch his breath. I stood there waiting on him and made the comment, “This is exactly why I work out 3 days a week. So I can enjoy the great outdoors.” He looked at me and between gasping for breath he said, “This is the very reason I take heart medication!” In other words, he didn’t want to put any effort into his health.

Here is the cool thing though. Even if you have not put much effort into your health over the past few years, just like it is going to take us a few workdays to get things going again on the farm, once you get a program started and make it part of your lifestyle, healthy habits do not take a whole lot of effort to maintain. Don’t fall for the quick fix though. Because most people don’t want to put any effort into their health, they try to short cut the process. They take diet pills or find the one exercise machine that “works out the whole body in 2 minutes.” (Ever seen ads like that?) Healthy habits should be part of your lifestyle. If you need help deciding what is right for you, send me a note and I would love to help.

As the 2008 archery season neared, my hunting partner and I were determined to take a deer off some public hunting land near our homes. After several scouting trips we realized our best option for entry was by boat. This particular section of public land is along the shores of Percy Priest Lake near Nashville, Tennessee. It can be accessed by car via one parking area or by boat. My partner and I decided to get back away from the majority of the other hunters, coming in by boat, or in our case canoe, was the best option.

The morning started off by having the trolling motor die on us less than half way to our destination. Because of our anxious desire to get to our pre-selected hunting spots before anyone else did, I inadvertently loaded the canoe backwards. I was sitting in the stern seat facing the wrong direction while my buddy running the trolling motor was in the bow seat. We each realized this after shoving off from shore so I just laid back down into the bottom of the canoe to keep us from tipping. Therefore when the trolling motor died, my buddy had to do all the paddling himself. Looking back on it we both now laugh.

Finally reaching my tree and gratefully finding no one else in the area, I attached my climbing stand and up the tree I went. Around me are plenty of hardwoods and lots of browse. The acorns had not started falling yet and we weren’t expecting a good crop that year anyway because of a summer time drought. Out to my right about 60 yards is a big field planted in several different grasses for the game. I am hoping the deer are going to come in from the field and head to the bedding area that is back behind me.

While there wasn’t much wind that day, I am sure my scent is still moving in the air simply because it is the last weekend in September and here in the south, that is still a pretty warm time of the year. Therefore, all the ruckus with the canoe, then carrying in my stand and gear and climbing the tree had caused me to work up a sweat. This became quite evident when a nice 7 pointer came sauntering up behind me.

As I said, I was expecting them to come in from my right and head back to the bedding area. Well, he came out of the bedding area much to my surprise! Sitting stock still, I was contemplating my plan. Where could I stand up and draw? Would my stand creak and give me away? Well, none of that mattered because when he was a mere 20 yards behind me he just turned tail, blew and ran off. I know he didn’t see me because the tree I was in was between he and I. It was my scent. Deer live and die by their sense of smell and the use of wind direction.

In part one of this series, I spoke of maintaining our health through moving well, thinking well and eating well, with a focus on moving well. This post I want to expand on the concept of eating well. We all have heard millions of recommendations on what a good diet entails. One of my  themes is to keep things simple. Therefore, I focus on two main concepts; food by God or man and carbs, protein intake.

If you categorize your food based on its origin, the food falls into 2 categories: food by God and food by man. Food by God is food that you can catch, kill, harvest or pick. In other words, food in its natural state. Now, you don’t have to do the catching or harvesting yourself, you can still buy it at the grocery store, the food just needs to be in its natural state. Food by man is a food that has at least one step of processing between the way God made it and the way you consume it.

For example, venison steak is a food by God. Deer jerky is a food by man. Apples are a food by God, apple juice is a food by man. If you make most of your diet food by God, you are naturally going to be healthier. So, when you are shopping or deciding what you are going to eat, ask yourself, “Is this a food by God or a food by man?”

Now, not all food by man is bad for you. A good whole grain cereal is a pretty healthy breakfast option, but you can’t go out and pick a bran flake, can you? Therefore it is still a food by man. What about this… grapes or grape juice? Grapes are going to be healthier, because it is a food by God, but grape juice still has some healthy properties. What about grape juice compared to grape kool-aid? Grape juice of course. Learn to make these distinctions and you will see your health improve.

Now, if you are trying to lose weight, monitoring your carbohydrates and protein intake will help you reach your goals. Our bodies use carbs for energy and proteins for rebuilding and repair of our tissues. We need energy when we are awake and we rebuild and repair tissues when we are asleep. Therefore, our food intake needs to reflect this. Since we need carbs for energy and we need that while we are awake, we should consume carbs for breakfast and lunch. Based on a normal “bedtime” of 10 p.m., you should not eat any carbs,  particularly simple carbs, after 3 p.m. That way your body has a chance to burn through those calories before going to sleep. If there are left over carbs in our system while we are sleeping, then our body will convert that carb into fat.

Since rebuilding and repair of tissues is taking place while we sleep, proteins need to be consumed at lunch and dinner. Dinner can also include as many green vegetables as you want; salad, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, etc. By doing this your body is going to have the necessary protein molecules ready for work as we sleep. And since no carbs have been consumed since lunchtime, there is no leftover carbs to convert to fat, your body will need to metabolize some of your stored fat to produce the energy your body needs for basic functions while you are sleeping.

By choosing more food by God you will see a marked improvement in your health. Keeping an eye on the timing of your carb and protein intake, you will see a difference in your body shape and the number on your bathroom scale!

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