A few weeks back prior to the holiday's I had two very interesting discussions with two gentlemen in their early 50's with two very different takes on their life and health.
The first one was with a gentlemen that was 53 years of age, we got to talking about health as he asked me about Health Coaching and why I got into health and when. My story is here on this website but long story short I told him "I wasn't sick, but I felt lousy and was not happy with the road I was going down, so I made the change". I asked "what about you, what’s your story"?
He told me over the last few months he has lost 35 lbs.by changing his diet to mostly plant-based and has begun exercising gradually, but plans to take it up a notch now that he has gotten a clean bill of health. I asked "if you don't mind me asking, what was the issue that led to the changes"? He told me he was starting to feel old physically and began living a more sedentary lifestyle because of it. I can relate to that as I once felt that way......no longer though!
He visited his doctor for a checkup and was diagnosed with early stages of heart disease aside from being overweight and was put on medication. It was that moment that he had a realization that he had completely neglected his health for quite some time. I asked if that eye opening diagnosis frightened him. He paused for a moment before answering, he then answered "the first thing I thought about was my kids and wife". Then went on to say it was that moment he decided that his health is now his priority and his responsibility to his family. I shared of few experiences with him and he told me he was on a mission to correct all he did to himself through poor diet choices and in his own words his own laziness. He is also working with his physician in minimizing his medication with a goal of getting off them altogether. My last question to him of course was "what if you didn't get that health scare".......again he paused and answered "I don't even want to go there".
Later that day I was speaking with a friend about training and we were comparing our workouts when another friend 50 yrs. young walked in, we asked him how many push-ups can you do? He looked and laughed and said "I don't exercise, I leave that to you young guys", I replied "I am older than you". He went on to explain he worried about exercise and health in his 20's and 30's but now that he is 50 those days are over. We asked "but why do you think that you don't need to worry about your health in your 50's". He answered that he only cares about working for 15 more years so he can retire. We asked him how he feels. He said "you know actually lately I have not been feeling too well, I am always tired and don't have much energy". Imagine he feels this way now and has no plans to take care of himself other than working for 15 more years. I asked him if he feels this way now what does he think he will feel like in 15 years when he plans to retire? Now he was pausing before answering, "I guess you are right there" he said. He said "maybe you’re right, I need to also think about my wife and kids"........interesting, see the same thought process as the first gentlemen.
The common thread here is that both guys had basically given up on any type of self-care and conceded to the misconception that they are 50 years old and that is the beginning of the end. One however had his eyes opened when he was told he had health problems and was scared into realizing he had to make changes and he did and is now doing really well, living a healthy and active life and is sharing this with his family. While the other has not been scared into making changes because he has not received a diagnosis from his doctor that he had to change. But he was admittedly not feeling well and after talking had second thought on his way of thinking and neglecting his health. Both of them although different circumstances when faced with health scares thought about their families right away.
The reality is that many of the chronic diseases that we face are directly related to the diet and lifestyle choices that we make. Turning 50 should be just the beginning of the second half of our lives and we should embrace it as that. Maybe we have to work a little harder and give up some of the things that don't benefit our health, but living a life free of medications and physical restrictions is something we should all strive for and owe to ourselves and our families!!
Don't take your health for granted and hope that later on you don't get bad news. The bodies we were given are incredible machines but they too need preventive maintenance, they need to move and be fed the right way. You may be surprised at how great it can feel and operate when you do!!
Be well friends!
Peter Burke 1/5/16
Belly fat is no joking matter, especially in men. If you are carrying around a little extra weight you are not alone. However carrying extra body weight, especially belly fat is is putting you at risk for some potentially serious health issues.
The trouble with belly fat is that it is not limited to the extra layer just below the skin known as the subcutaneous fat. It is also the visceral fat which lies deep inside the abdomen. Most people don't realize that when they have large midsections that there is actually this visceral fat (deep belly fat) that wraps and can cover your internal organs. The love handle fatty tissue is more close to the skin surface than the deep visceral fat cells in the midsection. Fat around the midsection is especially dangerous for men as it greatly increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers and type II diabetes.
Fat cells actually regulate metabolic functions and experts believe fat cells in the belly release especially high levels of fatty acids, which can adversely effect a person's blood sugar and insulin metabolism.
Men with large bellies and deep (visceral) fat tend to lose sensitivity to insulin, a crucial hormone that helps the body burn energy. When insulin loses its power, the body responds by pumping out more of the hormone, which only throws the system further off balance.
As a result, people with extra belly fat are vulnerable to a whole cascade of problems known as insulin resistance syndrome or metabolic syndrome. The syndrome -- which is estimated to affect over 50 million Americans -- comes with a frightening array of potential complications. For one thing, people with insulin resistance often develop type 2 diabetes. They also tend to have high blood pressure and too much bad cholesterol, a recipe for heart disease, according to numerous studies.
Inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle and the convenience of recreational or fast foods and processed foods is a key contributor to the increased belly fat in men in the US. Studies show that after 8 months of a sedentary inactive lifestyle men increase their visceral (dangerous body fat) by 9%. Therefore increasing their chances of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, certain cancers, and type II diabetes. Another health issue with belly fat for men is that it is one of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction. So problems above the belt often leads to problems below the belt especially in your 40's and 50's.
The good news is that this is all reversible, and can be changed and maintained through a healthy diet and regular exercise!!!
Peter Burke 4/9/15
This list of ingredients are found in just about every item you could purchase in the supermarket. They are listed by these names and many alias names that we will discuss here in this blog. It would be good for you to familiarize yourself with them and look for them on the labels of foods you may already be buying. We will discuss what they are in, why they are bad and how you can avoid them!
1. Refined Vegetable Oil
These oils include soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, canola oil, and peanut oil.
They are made by mechanical and chemical processes that extract the oil from the seed and nut. This process also uses solvents and high temps, the oils are often then deodorized and bleached before hitting the market. These oils are high in Omega 6 fatty acid which causes inflammation and counteracts the healthy Omega 3's in your diet. Can increase triglycerides and has shown to contribute to heart disease and cause some cancers.
Found in most processed foods such as crackers, cookies, granola bars, and most baked goods.
One of the most widely used artificial sweeteners. It is found in diet and sugar free sodas and soft drinks. sugar free gum and breathe mints, yogurt, frozen desserts and Jell-O.
Aspartame is an excitotoxin which is believed to be a carcinogenic which also produces neuro-toxic effects such as headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, and gastro-intestinal discomfort.
It is also known as, Equal, Natratase, AminoSweet, and Canderel. You should also avoid its' other versions Splenda (Sucralose) and Sweet "N" Low (Saccherine).
3. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
This is a highly refined sweetener made by separating the corn starch from the corn kernel. The starch is then converted into corn syrup.
Practically all HFCS is made from GMO corn and it is the number one source of calories in the US diet. It has been shown to contribute to weight gain, obesity, and the development of Type II Diabetes.
HFCS is also key contributor to cardiovascular disease, arthritis, elevated levels of triglycerides, raised LDL (bad cholesterol) and insulin resistance.
It also goes by the names corn sugar, glucose/fructose maize syrup, iso-glucose and fruit fructose. HFCS is found soda, salad dressing, breads, cereals, yogurt, soups, cold- cuts, jarred pasta sauce, ketchup and juice drinks.
4. Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH)
This is a genetically engineered version of the natural human growth hormone produced by cows, it manufactured by Monsanto. It is used to increase milk production in dairy cows.
Hi levels of rBGH has been implicated as major factors in the cause of breast, colon, and prostate cancers. It is also attributed to the early onset of puberty in girls. Many large corporations such as Dannon, General Mills, Starbucks and Walmart have begun to phase out products which contain rBGH and rBST. It is still in all dairy items that are not labeled "No rBGH or rBST"
5. Agave Nectar
This is a highly processed sweetener that is derived from the agave cactus plant. Agave contains the highest levels of fructose among all commercial sweeteners, even higher than HFCS.
Fructose is proven to increase insulin resistance the pre-cursor to Type II Diabetes. Fructose consumption also leads to weight gain, obesity, elevated blood pressure, blood sugar and triglycerides. Agave is found in ice cream, energy bars, cereals, ketchup and jarred pasta sauces. It is also sold as a sweetener. 6. Artificial Food Coloring
Additives used to color foods much like dyes are used to color clothes.
Most of these colors are derived from petroleum. Many of these food dyes have been banned most other countries but not here in the US. Currently 9 dyes that are approved for use in the US are linked to the following health concerns;
- Known carcinogens linked to cancer
- Hyperactivity in children and adults
- Allergy-like reactions
- Decreased Attention Span in Children
- Adversely affect children already diagnosed with ADHD as well as children with no prior behavior issues
The EU has put labeling regulations in place warning consumers of these risks but the US has not done so.
They are found in beverages, candy, baked goods, cereal (particularly ones marketed to children), energy bars, bread, Macaroni & Cheese, deli meat, condiments, fast foods, ice cream, and commercial meats and fish to make them appear fresh.
7. BHA & BHT
These are preservatives used in most processed foods used to prevent oxidization and extend shelf life. These are oxidants that are known to be potentially carcinogenic.
Found in cereals, sausage, hot dogs, meat patties, chewing gum, potato chips, beer, butter, vegetable oils, cosmetics and animal feed. Therefore in most all commercial meats.
8. Sodium Nitrite and Sodium Nitrate
Chemicals used to preserve meat.
The World Cancer Research Fund has revealed eating processed meat increase your risk for cancer by 20%.
These chemicals are found in; cured meats, sausage, bacon, ham, salami, hot dogs, canned meats, smoked salmon, and jerky.
9. Potassium Bromate
Is a form of bromide used to increase the volume of breads, rolls, and flours.
It has been shown to cause cancer in animals and is banned in the EU, Canada and many other countries. The FDA in 1991 had asked bakers to voluntarily stop using potassium bromate.
It is found in most commercial baked goods in the US, including Wonder Bread, Home Pride Bread, it is commonly found in flour, some toothpastes and mouthwash.
10. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
MSG is an amino acid used as a flavor enhancer. MSG is a known neuro-toxic chemical additive shown to damage nerve cells often times to the point of cell death. Regularly consuming MSG can destroy brain cells and lead to serious health problems including neurological disorders. Regular consumption of MSG has been shown to stimulate the appetite, cause weight gain and lead to obesity.
MSG is found in most processed foods such as; salad dressings, yogurt, canned meat, frozen foods, potato chips, canned soup, crackers, cookies and snack products.
These are some of the worst, unfortunately there are many others. Read your labels and be careful about what you are feeding your family. Avoiding processed foods will help you eliminate most of these harmful chemicals from your families’ diet!!
Peter Burke 3/19/15
Studies have shown the many benefits of physical activity on the body, but it also has many important benefits for your brain. As we age the brains cognitive function begins to degenerate especially after the age of 45. The brain tissue begins to thin and the brain itself begins to shrink. This type of degeneration can result in memory loss, hazy thought process and even worse leading to Alzheimer's and Dementia.
Recent studies of adults between 40 and 55 years of age show that 30 minutes of exercise is not only good for below the neck it actually improves the brains cognitive function and in adults tested that workout 30 minutes or more daily have thicker healthier brain tissue and fuller healthier brains than their non-active counterparts. Studies conducted at the University of Illinois found that regular physical activity can benefit the brains supply of white matter. This white matter helps keeps the different regions of grey matter in the cerebrum connected. Which basically means the brain has a greater capacity for memory, attention span and cognitive efficiency.
So a general rule of thumb is anything that is good for the heart is great for the brain!! A healthy diet, and regular aerobic and resistance training is equally important in children and adults!! Basically have fun, eat well, and exercise to stay physically and mentally fit!!
Peter Burke 3/5/15
There is currently an epidemic of poor health in the United States. Close to 70% of the adult population is overweight or obese, millions are suffering from chronic diseases such as Type II Diabetes, Cancer, Heart Disease and many forms of Auto-Immune Disease. This does not only affect adults, 2/3 of American children are overweight. This has not only a physical effect but an emotional effect on their health. It is actually a scary situation that is not getting better.
There is close to zero education in the US school systems regarding education, and the big businesses are basically being allowed to do anything they want when it comes to raising, growing and manufacturing the foods sold in this country. Did you know that 80% of the foods on the supermarket shelves contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)? Currently the government does not require these companies to label foods containing GMO's. Many of the foods being marketed to children contain not only GMO's but the majority contain artificial colors, sweeteners, and chemicals that are banned in most other countries. So if you are not educating yourself and your children on the importance of nutrition you could be feeding your families very unhealthy non-nutritious foods that will have a long term effects on their health and yours.
When you visit with your physician you have very limited time to speak with them about the reason you are there, or have time to really discuss why you are not feeling well, or what con you do to feel better, lose weight, and possibly reduce or get of certain medications. Doctors are so busy these days dealing with so many patients that they just don't have the time to really spend with each patient to get into the nuts and bolts of how to help you aside from prescribing medication and making a recommendation for a lifestyle change without the actual steps of showing you how. They just don't have the time to sit with each individual patient to do that.
This is where patients can really benefit from working with a Certified Holistic Health Coach. Many Health Coaches including myself work with physicians on referrals or in some cases right in the physicians office. This collaboration enables the patient that is willing to be coached and is really looking to make changes to their health and lifestyle to work with the Health Coach in completely confidential manner and the physician will get updates on the progress and changes that have been made. This is beneficial to the patient, and the physician because they have a trusted partner in the Certified Health Coach that is working closely in designing a specific program that will help their patient make the changes to there health.
When I work with my Health Coaching Clients we do a full health review as part of the initial consultation. From there the individuals who commit to make the change to their health and lifestyle will work with the Health Coach in creating a specific plan that addresses their current state of health, health concerns, and their specific health goals. Coaching Programs can be individual, in groups and in either 3 or 6 month programs. Depending on the individual and their goals they will receive some of the following;
- Meal Plans
- Tips on How to Shop for Healthy Foods
- Product Samples
- Time Management and Planning Ideas for Preparing Food
- Recipes/Cooking Tips
- Kitchen Preparation
- Support in Between Sessions
Health Coaching consultations and sessions are generally done in the comfort of the clients home or office via phone or Skype Video conferencing.
Health Coaching Clients get the benefit of learning how to address their existing health issues as well as how to go forward and living the healthy, happy lifestyle we are all supposed to be living!!
For men, prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. The good news is there are ways you can help reduce risk risk. Harvard University researchers have found that men who exercise regularly are less likely to develop prostate cancer than men who are more sedentary.
According to the American Cancer Society, a majority of the men diagnosed with prostate cancer are over the age of 65. So for men who plan to stay healthy far into their golden years, there is still plenty of time to help prevent prostate cancer.For men with office jobs who spend most of their days behind a desk finding time to exercise at least 30 minutes a day can be quite challenging. The best way to combat this it to find a number of small ways throughout the day to be active. This activity does need to be intense sweat breaking activity, it could be a few simple things to increase your movement such as:
- Standing up every 30 minutes to walk around the office or throughout the office space.
- Walk to meet with co-workers as opposed to emailing or calling from office to office.
- Step out for lunch or even volunteer to pick up lunch for others, this way you are out of the office and walking about.
- Take a brief afternoon break and walk for 10 minutes.
- Walk from the train or bus stations rather than taking a cab or public transportation....weather permitting of course!
- Use a step counter or walking app for to track you daily steps.
- Help around the office with supplies especially heavier items like paper.
These steps are not only good for helping prevent prostate cancer but good for your overall health.
Vitamin D - 600 to 800 (IUs) daily may also help lower the risk of different forms of prostate cancer.
Peter Burke 2/10/15
We are all born with the same opportunities in a world full of options to choose from in every aspect of our lives. Of course we all look different, we have different families of different race, nationality, religion, and family influences.
As we grow we all attend the same levels of schooling, elementary, middle school, Jr High, and then High School. Some of us decide to go to directly into college while others choose to go directly into the work place. This is part of the growing process.
Then life starts to kick in like a giant wave that we get swept up in, this wave can derail us from our dreams and plans for our visions of what our lives were to be. I know this happened to me from a career standpoint and definitely when it came to my health.
The fact is that we are all here for one reason or another, if you are a religious person you may believe God put you here for a specific reason. You may feel that you are here for a specific reason even if you aren't religious. Regardless we are here to be great, to be awesome, to be inspiring, or whatever you dream or once dreamt you were to be.
I personally was in an incredibly stressful and completely unfulfilling corporate job that paid bills, but made me very unhappy, very unsatisfied, and mostly feeling "what the heck am I doing". This affected my health all around.
There is no reason to settle especially with our health. We know that not eating right and not exercising will greatly affect our health. Yet as we age it becomes more difficult to stay on track, again life's wave takes us to the place of a false sense of comfort, and doing what is easier. We often neglect to take care of ourselves. And we settle for the way we are, the way we feel, and the way we live our lives. This settling often leads to poor health or worse, such as chronic disease, limitations in the way we live. We were definitely not put here to settle, we are here to stretch and always improve and be the very best we can be!
Our health is the most thing we should be taking time to nurture and nourish and invest in. Never settle for a C life when it comes to your health, Settling is easier when making a decision to change our eating habits, or beginning a workout program and changing to a healthier lifestyle because when we make a decision to say "I will start tomorrow" or "let me just watch this t.v. show" we experience a false sense of comfort in knowing that you really didn't have to start today. But this is a very short lived feeling of comfort, it usually leads to unhappiness and a sense of giving up. Again we are not here to settle. We must stretch to grow, and change anything in our life that is not positive. Settling is easy but not fulfilling.
There is a story of a professor from a famous University, he did an experiment with his graduating class on the day of their final exam, this was the biggest test of their college career. He said" today is the biggest test of your lives, you need this to graduate and move on". He handed out the exams and instructed the class to keep the exams face down and not to turn them over until he said so. He then said "I have decided to give you all the opportunity of not taking this test today". He said " If you choose to not take the test, you will receive a C without even turning over the paper", "all you need to do is leave now and you will receive a C no questions asked". At that time about half the class packed their belongings and handed in their blank tests knowing they just received C and didn't have to do a thing. Once the group left the room he told the rest of the class that remained "today you have made one of the biggest decisions in your life, you have chosen to excel and not settle for the C in life and get the very best grade you can". He then told them that once he leaves the room to turn over there exams and begin. He left the room and the students all turned over their exams which was a single sheet of paper that simply read "Congratulations, you just received an A+ on this exam"!
Don't settle for a C, don't wait until tomorrow start stretching today!! Your health will be forever grateful!!
Peter Burke - 1/23/15
There is no doubt that that as we age in years our body ages with us. Research is proving that we can not only increase your chances of maintaining a healthy body but maintaining a healthy brain well into our age if we add these "superfoods" to your daily diet.
Blueberries - Besides being very tasty, blueberries have been found to protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's or dementia. Blueberries may also significantly improve the learning capacity.
Wild Salmon - Salmon are rich in are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids. Omega 3's also contain anti-inflammatory qualities.
Nut & Seeds - Both are good sources of vitamin E. Higher levels of vitamin E correspond with less cognitive decline as we age. Walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and non-hydrogenated nut butters are also great sources.
Avocados - Avocados are a fatty fruit which contribute to healthy blood flow. Which is critical to a healthy brain. Avocados also aid in lowering blood pressure, high blood pressure is a risk factor in cognitive decline as we age. Lower blood pressure will promote brain health.
Beans - Beans help stabilize blood sugar (glucose) levels. The brain relies on glucose for fuel.
Pomegranate Juice - Pomegranates possess powerful anti-oxidant benefits, which will protect the brain from the damage of free radicals. The brain is the most sensitive organ in the body to free radicals.
Whole Grains - Whole grains helps promote healthy blood flow, and help reduce the risk of heart disease. Brian health is heavily dependent on healthy blood flow.
Green Tea - Freshly brewed green tea can boost brain power by enhancing, memory, focus, and mood. It also contains high level antioxidants which promotes healthy blood flow.
Dark Chocolate - Dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidant properties, as well as the stimulant caffeine which enhances focus and concentration. It will also help stimulate the production of endorphin's which hell improve mood.
The brain is often the forgotten or not thought of organ when we eat and exercise for good health. Aside from eating for brain health it is important to keep it working through reading and and always learning new things, and staying active and not sedate.
1/13/15 - Peter Burke
One of the issues with the fast paced world we live in is that families are not spending the time to eat meals together.
We are too busy taking the kids to different sporting or school activities, or parents are working different schedules and everyone is eating in shifts. Many times the choices made are not necessarily the healthiest options. When we eat like this the meals are usually rushed and we don't get to really enjoy the meal and the family time experience as we once did back when we were younger. My family did this for years as my wife and I both worked in the city.
Back when i was a child we ate a home cooked meal every evening. We spent time in the kitchen while my mother was cooking then enjoy our meal together without a t.v on and there were certainly no cell phones or texting back then! We would actually talk about our days, and share stories and laugh together while enjoying a healthy home cooked meal! It is so important for families to get this this time together without all of the distractions of the world, television, cell phones and all of the portable wireless devices.
Having two older children one 24, one 20 and a 9 yr old son the past few years our evening dinners were more like a revolving door diner. Some nights it was 3 of us, or 4 of us eating at different times with the t.v on in the background. Food was left out for the next one of us that came home later in the evening to throw in the microwave to heat up. What happens when we eat like this is as mentioned earlier in the blog, often non nutritional food choices are made due to timing and you loose the valuable daily downtime that should be spent with family. Eventually this becomes our routine and our family's are not as close as they should be and our physical and mental health is effected.
As our family has gone through many things over the past few years and we are on the positive side of things now and we are a strong family unit again. We also have changed our lives to a much healthier way of living and one thing we realized was missing was the "old school" family sit down dinners where we could unwind after long days and enjoy time together and a good healthy home cooked meal. We have made concerted efforts to do this as often as possible. Above are pictures of our daughters meal she prepared last week;Organic Chicken Stuffed with sweet pepper and pesto
Sauteed Organic Brussel Sprouts
Organic Cauliflower MashIt was delicious, Thank You Samantha!!
The one thing we recently have done is we have declared Sunday as our "Family Healthy Meal Sunday"s". Each week one of us pick the menu and prepare a healthy meal for the family to eat and enjoy together! It is a great opportunity for us to all be together, cook, listen to music, and most importantly laugh together as a family! We plan to expand this and invite more family and friends to our home to experience the healthy meals we prepare and even join in and prepare some of their own healthy recipes as well as just spending valued time together and enjoying the lost tradition of the family meals. There are a few rules that must be strictly adhered to though on the Family Healthy Meal Sunday's and they are as follows;
- All meals must be home cooked with healthy ingredients
- No television during dinner
- Cell Phones are not allowed at the table
- Music must be playing throughout
- Negativity is not allowed
- Laughter, fun and positive energy is mandatory
- Prior to eating each person shares one thing they are grateful for, Thanks to my wife Carmen for instituting this one.
- Most of all you must have fun, share, and enjoy the most important thing your family and friends!!
I will continue writing about our Sunday's as it grows into a larger tradition. I hope you are all already doing something like this, if not it is a great time to start!!!
1/8/15 - Peter Burke
This is a delicious and nutritious way to start your day! This purple powerhouse is quick and easy to make and a nutrient-dense way to start your day.
3 - Scoops Purium Vanilla Chai SuperMeal
16 Oz Organic Almond or Coconut Milk
1 - Handful Organic Blueberries
1 - Handful Organic Blackberries
1 - Frozen Organic Banana
1 - Tsp Organic Flax-seed
3 - Ice Cubes
Place all ingredients in your favorite blender and blend until smooth...that's it! Then enjoy!!
By Peter Burke 12/13/14