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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.

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!

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!

If you are like me you are finishing up your hunting season, cleaning your gear, making  the needed repairs to your equipment and putting it away for the year. It is a sad time for hard-core hunters like myself. Although it can be quite miserable the last few weekends of the season with the air temperatures dropping and a cold north wind making them feel colder, I still hate seeing the season come to a close.

As a good hunter, now is the time to start getting ready for next season. Review your trips afield in your head. What did you learn? What mistakes did you make that made an impact on your season? One that I made that I know I won’t make again is shooting my rifle without sighting in the specific ammunition I was hunting with. My 30-06 is sighted in for 180 grain factory loaded ammunition. A friend gave me 165 grain, ballistic tip hand loaded ammunition to try. I figured that the small 15 grain weight difference would not make a trajectory change inside 100 yards. Well, 2 missed deer in one weekend proved me wrong!

One area that hunters tend to overlook in preparing for the upcoming season is their physical health. I see many health conditions and injuries in my office every week that could have easily been prevented with a little exercise and proper nutrition.

Most everybody knows what it takes to have good health, but few people put the effort in to having it. We all know that we need 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables everyday. Do you know how big a serving is though? It is basically the size of your fist. Therefore, an apple counts as one serving. A normal size salad at most restaurants can count up to 5 servings! Thinking this way, it is not hard to get your recommended amounts everyday!

What about exercise? Most hunters get out on the first day of the season and after walking several hundred yards through the woods and then climbing into their tree stand realize that they are out of shape. Most will rationalize it away that they are too busy to exercise. What happens when one season you head out and have a heart attack on the way to the stand? Too busy then for exercise? Again, it doesn’t take a huge time committment to get into shape. Twenty minutes a day, 3 days a week is all you need! Some of my patients complain to me when they see the hard-core “gym rats” that they just don’t enjoy exercising like they do. My advice is to remember that you exercise to live, not live to exercise!

So as you are cleaning your rifle, storing your camo and washing off your four-wheeler don’t forget about getting your self ready for next season. Make sure that the next hunting season isn’t your last hunting season!

As I come to the end of another deer season, I reflect back to what I learned from this year’s hunting adventures. It has been an eventful season albeit a slow season in the number of trips afield.

Archery season came and went with only one trip to the woods for an afternoon hunt. I had set my climbing stand on a tree about 45 yards inside the tree line. Out to my left was a very large food plot planted with corn and clover. This food plot, we call it the “big field” has always been productive in the past. As shooting light waned, my hunting partner texted me to see if I had shot anything yet. After I replied a disappointing “no” and was putting my phone back into my pocket, a deer just out of sight saw that movement and decided to vacate that area rather quickly. Lesson learned: even though texting is quieter than talking on the phone, it can still spook deer!

Four weeks later found my oldest son and I in an elevated box blind over the same “big field” for his first youth hunt. As 3 does meandered into the opposite end of the field, some 270 yards away, his first real case of buck fever began. When they closed the distance to 100 yards and showed no sign of coming any closer, he set up for his shot. Deep, slow breaths helped him calm the shakes, but he was still worried about the loud crack of the rifle hurting his ears. No matter how much prodding I gave him, he did not want to shoot without me covering his ears. So his first shot at a deer had me behind him with my hands over his ears. It turned out to be a clean miss. Lesson learned: buy some ear plugs so the shooter can lean into the scope without someone else’s hands over their ears!

First day of muzzleloader season and I am in the double tree stand with my youngest son for his first ever “hunt with dad.” We had practiced sitting still and whispering; the treestand even had camo netting hanging from it to cover most of his movements. Shortly after 7 in the morning, a doe busted us from behind but didn’t run off. After she decided that we were no threat and she went back to feeding, I was able to turn around and get my crosshairs on her. As she was about to step out into an opening where I could shoot her, my son suddenly stood up, uncovered his ears and said, “Daddy!” Somehow the doe knew he wasn’t talking to her because she didn’t stick around to find out what he wanted to say! Lesson learned: 6 year old boys can have the worst timing but we still love them anyway!

The next time he and I were in that same stand, as I trained my gun on another deer, he covered his ears and didn’t even lift up his head to watch. This particular deer did not like the way we looked up in that stand and did not present me with a clean shot. After she ran off and I put my gun down, my son is still sitting there with his ears covered.  I nudged him telling him it was ok to put his hands down and he said, “Did she run away? I didn’t even move this time!” Lesson learned: 6 Year olds are quick learners!

I have had several other deer in my cross hairs this season and still have 2 weeks left before the season officially ends. It has been a great season and certainly one that I will never forget.

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