Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Declare Your Independence This Fourth of July

This coming Monday, America will celebrate its independence.  It was 235 years ago that America adopted the Declaration of Independence declaring its independence from Great Britain.  While America as a country is no longer dependent, individual Americans and families have become grossly dependent on unhealthy food, technology, and comforts.  These dependencies have lead to a devastating obesity crisis which has led to further dependence on prescription medications to control blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure.  Today, the average American eats approximately 570 calories more EACH DAY than they did thirty years ago.  To put that into perspective, those additional calories could lead to a weight gain of about a pound a week.  That is 52 pounds a year! 

What is so astonishing about this is that we can make a change.  We do not have to risk our health and our future – obesity is widely reported as the #1 preventable cause of death in the United States.  With two out of three adults and one out of three children are overweight or obese, we are literally killing ourselves.  The majority of Americans are affected by being overweight or obese.  The main causes of this appear to be our dependence on supersize fast food meals, packaged “convenience” snack foods, sugary sodas & coffees, as well as our aversion to physical activity.  We are eating more and moving less.  Thirty years ago Americans were not only eating 570 fewer calories each day, they weren’t sitting with an iPhone in one hand and a video game controller or remote control in the other.  They entertained themselves by dancing in discos, playing in the cul-de-sac, roller-skating, playing Pac-Man while standing, and walking the streets with the ever-popular walkman.  Today, our entertainment typically involves us sitting down with fatty and/or sugary snacks on the couch or car seat next to us.  We very rarely enjoy our meals at a table with a knife and fork.  We want everything – information, dating, food, pleasure – instantly and single-handedly.  Rather than eating a bowl of cereal & fruit, we eat a processed cereal bar, we send an electronic invitation to meet instead of walking over to ask in person, we order food while sitting in a car only to consume it on the couch using our hands as utensils and laps as plates.  American families rarely cook a healthful meal for the family, let the kids set the table, and sit down without the distraction of some type of technology. 

The good news?  We can make a change today.  Use this Fourth of July as your day to declare your personal independence.  We can sever our ties to processed foods and inactivity.  We can make decisions that will help us lose our excess weight and gain our lives back.  We can eat less and move more.  We can declare our healthy independence and discover how much freedom we actually have – freedom from prescription meds, artery-clogging foods, and sedentariness. 

If you or someone you know needs help developing your own Declaration of Independence, I will be your congressional coach and motivator!  I will sign on with you and “we the people” will find your independence.  Go to to see all the ways I can help you and those you love.  And see for July’s Camp Champ for Kiddos flyer.  Obesity is 100% preventable – “We the People” can declare our independence! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Children Are Our Future

Showing the kids a kiwi
I have spent this week speaking with hundreds of kids ages 5-12 about their health.  It was an effort to teach the kids and to promote my Camp Champ for Kiddos in July.  The past three days with these kids has been a true inspiration.  I have made presentations at the Williamson County Parks & Recreation summer camps sites – six elementary schools in all.  It has reinforced my purpose of starting Coach D Consulting last year and has rejuvenated my passion for getting people healthy!  I absolutely adore the receptiveness and candor of children.  When I spoke to them about being health NERD’s (if you missed some of my previous posts, this is getting proper Nutrition, Exercise, & Rest Daily), they absolutely understood the importance of health.  They knew that should eat fruits & vegetables and get exercise.  But, there was a disconnect as to how they were supposed to go about doing that.  I showed the kids fresh produce – a bell pepper, a kiwi, a red pear, whole okra, a red-skin potato, and kale.  I explained to them how nutritious each was and how they could prepare it so it would taste great.  I also showed them exercises they could do with a family member during commercials rather than sitting on the couch all night.  Not surprisingly, most of the kids did not know they need 10-11 hours of sleep every night.  Many of them said they fell asleep watching TV or playing video games.  But after my presentation and a wide variety of questions from the kids, they began to understand how important nutrition, exercise and rest really are – and that they can be fun!  By the end of each presentation each child understood that healthy kids are happy kids! 

Whether you are a parent or not, your life will be affected by a child.  Today’s youth will one day run this country.  And if the obesity epidemic continues on its current trend, today’s youth will live shorter lives than we adults will.  And their lives will be filled with more illness and disease due to obesity, lack of exercise, and poor nutrition.  So, if we want to protect our future, we also need to protect our children’s future.  While this may surprise you, our children are hungry (pun intended) for knowledge about nutrition & exercise.  Just to prove to you how interested and eager they are to learn, I want to share with you several of the interactions I had with these kids over the past few days. 
·         An 8-year-old boy came up to me and asked me what the “green leafy stuff” was and how to make it into chips.  I told him it was kale and if he baked it at a very high heat for a few minutes it would get crispy and taste like chips.  He concentrated on every word I said, then paused and crinkled his eyebrows (I could see the wheels turning) and said “cool” and walked away.
·         A 10-year-old girl came up after the presentation with a piece of paper and marker and asked me the name of each vegetable & fruit I brought.  She wrote down one name at a time and showed a broad smile when she had the list complete. 
·         An 11-year-old boy told me about the Disney Channel’s Healthy Magic campaign.  I Googled it today and saw they the Magic of Healthy Living is a new initiative by Disney that includes nutrition & the Let’s Move campaign support by Michelle Obama.  Kudos to Disney!  
·         A 10-year-old boy asked me if I had a website.  I wrote it down for him and he asked the camp counselor if he could go put it in his bag.  He ran to the classroom to put it in his bag!
Getting the kids energized with exercise
·         A 6-year-old boy made up his own exercises and said “Coach D, is this good exercise?”  I loved it!  I said “Yes, it looks like it would make me out of breath!”
·         An 8-year-old boy who was overweight came up and while touching the food told me that he was smart for his age.
·         A 6-year-old girl asked why she need more sleep than her parents did. 
·         A 10-year-old girl wanted to know if we would rest during my camp in July.  I told her that we would eat healthy food and get lots of exercise, but I would let her rest in her own bed each night!
·         A 6-year-old boy wanted to know “what numbers in July” my camp would be.  I told him the dates were on the flyer.
·         Another 6-year-old boy then proceeded to raise his hand with great concern and tell me “I don’t even know what a flyer is”.  I assured him that we had a blue piece of paper for him to give his parents. 
·         A 6-year-old boy exclaimed after seeing the kiwi “I’ve had that…it’s delicious!”
·         A 7-year-old boy informed me that nutrition is “fiber”. 
·         One of the camp counselors asked me after the presentation how to make the kale chips and said she would do it this week!
·         One group had the camp counselors using their whistles to do football-style drills where they ran in place then hit the ground to do a push-up.
·         Many of the kids would run up to me and tap me on the shoulder (or stomach or back or wherever they could get their hands on) and say “watch this” and show me an exercise they could do. 

This is merely a handful of the amazing interactions I had with the kids this week.  I wish I had the memory to recall each and every question and numerous comments from each child.  But the bottom-line is that our kids are starving for knowledge and guidance on how to be healthy happy kids.  They are aware they need to be healthy, they just need support doing it.  I would like to end by purposefully quoting Whitney Houston, “The children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier…Everybody is searching for a hero. People need someone to look up to.”  Will you be that someone a child can look up to?  Will you show our youth how to be a health NERD?  Join me in making our future healthy & happy! 

Whether you have children who need to shape their future, or you’re an adult in need of reshaping your future, I am here to be your coach and your friend for life!  Go to to see all the ways I can help you and those you love.  And see for July’s Camp Champ for Kiddos flyer.  Obesity is 100% preventable – let’s change our kids’ future today!  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dad Has Left Us with Big Shoes to Fill

Me trying to fill Dad's shoes
This coming weekend is Father’s Day and it is a fitting time for us to celebrate Dad.  But as we celebrate, we should take time to think about the lifestyle Dad is living and how it might lead to fewer Father’s Day celebrations.  Does your dad currently struggle with his weight, fight blood pressure, and/or suffer from high cholesterol?  Or maybe you are a man who is a dad, or wants to be a dad, who suffers from these heath woes yourself?  

In many families, a “beer belly”, “love handles”, the “done-lap syndrome”, etc. are used as jokes or punch lines about Dad and his physique.  However, these are NOT terms of endearment and they should not be laughed at.  When Dad, or anyone on the family, carries around extra weight it can lead to serious illness and disease such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, colon & breast cancer, hypertension and stroke.  I suggest we take this Father’s Day as a time to recognize the seriousness of being overweight or obese and do something about it.  Chances are your dad or an influential man in your life is overweight or obese – two out of three men are.  So, you do have the power to make a difference.  In fact, my dad has battled high triglycerides and high cholesterol for years.  I am proud to say that he has his triglycerides under control and is greatly improved his cholesterol numbers.  Not too long after I lost 50 pounds in college, my dad made some lifestyle changes and also lost some weight and in turn improved many of his health numbers.  I am so proud of him – he’s been my rock for so long, I want to make sure he sticks around! 

Me helping Dad with the fire
A new study reports that life expectancy nationwide has increased by about 4 years for men and 2 years for women.  However, the life expectancy has actually decreased for areas in the Deep South, Appalachia, and northern Texas.  That’s pretty bad and sad news for those of us here in the South.  The University of Washington Seattle study indicates that obesity, high blood pressure, and tobacco use have all contributed to this decrease in life expectancy.  All three of these factors can be reversed and are preventable ailments.  In the past few weeks, I have written about how we are killing our kids through their food intake and their sedentary lifestyles.  But, as it turns out, we adults are killing ourselves as well!  We can’t continue to eat the way we do and sit at desks, in cars, and on couches and expect to remain healthy. 

I personally want to be able to celebrate many more Father’s Days with my dad.  He is a supportive man who has encouraged me and loved me more than he knows.  And I am sure many of you have fathers who have done the same.  So, use this Father’s Day as the time to give back to Dad.  Support him, encourage him, and love him enough to see him get healthy.  Give Dad a pair of running shoes rather than a tie.  Take Dad for a walk rather than a movie.  Celebrate Dad with a healthful home-cooked meal rather than a greasy steak & loaded potato.  He gave you his best for many years, now it’s your turn to make sure Dad gets the best. 

Me and my Dad

If you and your dad need help determining how to get started or need motivation to get & stay healthy, I am here for you!   I’ll help you fill Dad’s shoes the healthy way – and you’ll celebrate many more Father’s Days together!  Go to to see all the ways I can help you and those you love.  Make sure to sign up for my newsletter to get meals you and Dad can make together.  This week’s newsletter also includes lots of great facts about men and obesity.  Obesity is 100% preventable – let’s start today! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Good Enough for Government Work?

Ever hear the phrase that something is “good enough for government work”?  Sure, we all have.  Some historians believe it started in World War II as a standard implying that something could pass the most rigorous of standards.  However, over the years it has developed into a sarcastic and demeaning statement implying that something is subpar or poorly executed.  It’s funny that this statement has developed along the same miserable path that Americans’ weight has.  Just after World War II, the average American man weighed 166 pounds, while the average American woman weighed 140 pounds.  Fast-forward 50 years and Americans have gained about 25 pounds apiece.  The average American man now weighs 191 pounds, and the average American woman weighs 164 pounds. 

So, are Americans today really good enough for government work?  Turns out, no, they aren’t.  The average 20-year-old American would not be able to enter the military due to the weight requirements.  For a 5’9” 20-year-old male, the maximum weight requirement to enter the army is 184 pounds.  For a 5’4” 20-year-old female, the maximum weight requirement is 137 pounds.  So, most Americans could not serve our country due to lack of exercise and poor nutrition!  Our national security is being threatened by our own obesity…which is 100% preventable. 

Luckily the government has recently begun a new initiative to help all Americans with their nutrition.  In an effort to help those who have been confused by the previous guideline known as the food pyramid, it has been replaced by the Food Plate. The “plate” is the newest way to help America navigate their way to healthier food choices, and it has gained support from moms in high places, like First Lady Michelle Obama. She says the plate takes the caloric calculations out of daily meal planning.  Medical experts & pediatricians also applaud the user-friendly new guideline.  And I applaud it as well.  I have long taught my clients to envision their plate as a peace sign filling the largest portion with fresh produce, one small section with whole grains, and the last small section with protein.  So, it looks like the government is thinking along the same lines!  I would suggest everyone check out the new website – you will find lots of info from the USDA regarding selection tips and messages for consumers.  There are also interactive tools & media directly from the government.  Politics aside, Michelle Obama has been an extremely positive influence on the government’s endorsement of healthy kids and adults! 

I will say that this latest government initiative may be reversing the recent meaning of the popular phrase: however, we all must do our part to make sure we make healthy choices for ourselves.  Even Mrs. Obama’s comment on the new Food Plate is, “It's certainly not going to take the responsibility off of us as parents to make sure that we're making the right choices for our families.  That's still on us.”  And I agree wholeheartedly!  If you need guidance, encouragement, motivation, and/or knowledge to start making the right choices for you and your family, I’m here for you!  I’ll go above and beyond government work to get you feeling and looking great!  Go to to see all the ways I can help you and those you love.  And make sure to sign up for my newsletter.  It’s an awesome way for you to get recipes and meal ideas that will fit into your new “Food Plate”.  And give me a call so I can help you personally! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

When Reality TV Hits Home

This past Monday night I watched the series premiere of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition.  It is one of the numerous weight loss reality shows now on television.  I have seen most all of these shows, mostly as research for my job, but also just for the shear inspiration that can be pulled from these stories.  I have said in this blog before about how “reality TV” typically cannot (or should not) be considered reality.  However, I am amazed at how closely some of these shows resemble what I face with my clients each day. 

I will say that Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition is a bit different since it deals with the super obese.  Super obese people are a step above morbidly obese.  Morbid obesity is characterized as a BMI over 40 or 100 pounds overweight.  The super obese have a BMI over 50 and are more than 200 pounds overweight.  I have yet to work with a super obese person, but I have worked with morbidly obese.  After watching the show this week, I am not sure there a specific line when someone passes from living life to struggling through life.  How many pounds overweight does someone have to be before they realize they are threatening the quality of their life, the length of their life, and their potential for happiness?  One reason why I really hope Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition does well is because it can show Americans that change is possible.  If these super obese people can transform their lives, anyone can do it.  There is nothing more inspirational than that.  So far, the statistics look good for the show.  The series premiere pulled in 7.1 million viewers, proving that America is intrigued by this topic.  But more importantly is how many of those 7.1 million people will be inspired to make a transformation of their own? 

My high school graduation,
I was overweight & uncomfortable
I would encourage anyone who is even on the brink of obesity to make a change now.  It is so much easier to get healthy when the road is shorter.  Plus, being 100 pounds or more overweight puts you at serious risk for all types of medical problems, many of which are irreversible.  I came to the realization that I need to make a change in my lifestyle a little over a decade ago.  I didn’t feel good about myself, I felt uncomfortable with my body, and I simply was disgusted with what I saw in the mirror.  Like so many, years of seeking comfort in food as well as a lack of knowledge about what I was supposed to be doing led to my weight gain.  When I decided to get healthy, I researched & experimented and found that there is no secret – you simply have to exercise hard and eat nutritiously.  It took me a couple of years to make the full transformation.  But I can honestly say that I look and feel better in my 30’s than I did when I was 18.  There is no quick solution, no magic diet pill, no extreme contraption that will shed pounds.  You simply must change your lifestyle. 

I’ve said it before, but it simply amazes me that Americans today are spending more money on diets & weight loss that we ever have; however, obesity continues to rise.  And the trend doesn’t look good.  Figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention put the prevalence of overweight and obesity in adults at about 66% currently.  However, if current trends continue, 86% of Americans could be overweight or obese by the year 2030.  Even more troubling, one doctor says that by 2048, all American adults could be overweight or obese.  

Let’s turn that trend around.  There is no more time left to feel ashamed and be stalled by your fears.  There is no time left to say “I’ll start tomorrow”.  We have to start today.  If you’ve watched weight loss shows on TV and been inspired but just haven’t made the move yourself, now is your time.  Whether you need to lose 15 pounds or 150 pounds, together we will transform your life.  We won’t be on reality TV, but those who witness your transformation will definitely be inspired!  I will help you make that first step, and I will be there for each stride you make as you get healthy.  I’ll go beyond improving the appearance and together we’ll start a revolution!  Go to to see all the ways I can help you and those you love.  And make sure to sign up for my newsletter.  It’s been extremely popular and everyone loves the recipes & tips each week.  You don’t want to miss out on one more week!