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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!

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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!

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!

A deer’s sense of smell is its best sense. We all have had shot opportunities ruined by a change in wind direction. Deer live (and die) by monitoring the wind. I have often wondered how many deer I didn’t see because I didn’t take proper care in controlling my scent.

On my last hunt of the 2009/2010 deer season here in Tennessee I was blessed by the wind direction. As my son and I came out of our box blind to do some spot and stalk hunting, I made sure to keep the cold northwest wind blowing in our face. We had about an inch of snow on the ground and visibility was awesome. As we moved along the ATV trails there seemed to be no activity of any sort. Since my freezer was still empty of deer meat, I was getting anxious about shooting a deer.

Walking down a steep hill with hardwoods all around us, I saw a doe jump up and run down into the bottom below us and up the other hillside. I did not have a chance to get a shot off, but she put me on high alert. As I was watching her run off, my son spotted 3 more does running toward us. They were on a path that would bring them up the hill right to us. Two of them came up out of the cut below us and stopped within 15 yards of us. However, there was a downed tree between us and still no shot! They turned and ran off with the wind in their face. After spotting 2 more deer I was able to drop one of them in her tracks with my 30-06. At this point I realized what started all this action: 2 dogs were coming up through the woods below us and their scent was carried up into the thicket these deer were bedded in. My son spotted another group of 4 and again my 30-06 brought down another one. Two deer on the ground less than a minute apart! My freezer is now full!

As I reviewed the hunt in my mind over the following days, I realized that I was able to shoot those deer because of their total reliance on wind direction. You see the dogs came in down wind from where the deer were bedded and both deer that I shot were headed back into the thicket where they came from because the dogs had already passed them. They never saw us because they were relying on the wind as their defense mechanism and we were upwind from them.

It got me thinking: how many times have I relied on one mechanism to improve my health? You see, there are many health fads out there that only focus on one thing for people to do to become healthy. Have you heard about the chocolate that helps you loose weight? I am not kidding. There is a company that sells a natural dark chocolate that is supposed to speed metabolism and help you loose weight. What about only eating protein, a.k.a Atkins diet? Or the grapefruit diet? Or only doing weight training and no cardio? You see, all these things are only one “mechanism” and like those deer that are in my freezer right now, if you rely only on one mechanism to improve your health, then your going to get caught by something upwind that you can’t see.

Now, I am all for making things simple and that is true for healthcare as well. However, just doing one thing is too simple. I try to keep it at 3: eat well, think well and move well. For this post, I want to focus on moving well.

How much moving do you do in an average day? Is your job pretty sedentary or are you up and moving most of the day? Do you try to park up close to Walmart or do you park further away and get a little exercise walking in? You see, our bodies are meant to move. Without movement, our muscles breakdown and atrophy. This lack of movement is accentuated when we put our bodies under new stresses, such as dragging a deer out of the woods. As we were dragging one of my 2 deer up to the ATV this year, I said, “This is why I workout 3 times a week!” After my friend who was helping me caught his breath, he said, “This is why I take heart medication!” Only taking heart medication is focusing only on wind direction!

Making fitness part of your lifestyle is one of the easiest things to do. So many of my patients ask me what is the best kind of exercise. I then ask them what kind they like. No matter what they tell me I tell them that is the best kind of exercise because that is the kind that they are most likely to do. Find something that you enjoy and do it! Since most of us enjoy the woods so much, why not try hiking at a local park 3 days a week? I enjoy mountain biking for this very reason. It gets me out into the woods and I get a great workout while I am doing it.

The point is to just get out and move. You will learn what is good for your body and eventually your body will actually look forward to the extra movement. Also, there is a side effect to exercise that most people don’t realize. After starting an exercise program, you will actually have more energy. That’s right, in response to the demands of the fitness routine your body will produce more energy! So there goes that excuse! If you need help with what maybe right for you, comment on this post and I would be happy to help.

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