Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cut Yourself A Break This Holiday Season

Is there anything worse than being on a diet during the holidays? How about being on a diet period? Even if you’re not on a specific weight reduction/maintenance program, but are just practicing healthy eating habits (like my high-fiber diet), holidays, especially family gatherings around the dinner table, can be a challenge.

I have a simple solution for all your holiday eating angst:


What does that really mean, huh, Mike?

Simply: enjoy yourself, don’t hold back. Eat.



How much?

As much as you like, within reason.

Wow, cool, fair enough. One more question?


Why? How? Huh?

That was more than one question, but here goes:

The holiday eating season should be treated no differently than cutting yourself some slack on weekends or at a wedding reception or any number of other special occasions that life tosses your way. I am very strict when it comes to healthy eating and proper diet, but I cut myself a break all the time. In fact, I don’t even like using the word “diet” when it is referred to in the “I’m on a diet” sense. A “diet” is what you eat daily. Your daily “diet” should already be a healthy one, and if it’s not then what does it matter what you eat, or how much you eat, during the holidays?


Here’s the thing: if you have been successfully eating the right foods and the right amounts, have been maintaining your goal weight or at least have been able to make healthy strides toward those goals, then you already KNOW what it takes to live a healthy life: eat the right foods and the right amounts, exercise, and enjoy each day.


My point is, if you “cheat” a little during this upcoming holiday season, maybe gain a few unwanted pounds, it’s not the end of the world. You already know how to lose those pounds. And if you are currently practicing healthy dietary choices, like those suggested at, then you already understand what you can and cannot eat.

You will probably practice self-control without even being conscious of it. And if you don’t and decide to grab that second slice of pie or opt for seconds on the turkey and gravy, don’t fret:


And enjoy these special occasions with family, friends, food, and fun.

Life is short.
Life is, at times, challenging.
But life is also a celebration of living. Part of living is breaking bread with family and friends.

Cut yourself a break this holiday season…and pass the mashed potatoes…and bean casserole…and candied yams…and pumpkin pie…and…


Two more videos to enjoy during this holiday season:

On Being a Vegetarian During the Holidays

Mike‘s 30 Second Doritos Ad, and some Funny Outtakes

Until next time…



Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Essence of Garlic

Want your house to smell like an Italian restaurant? Or a Mexican casa? Or the narrow streets of Chinatown? How about an Irish pub or Middle Eastern market? Here’s what you do: take a pan and set it atop a hot flame, pour some extra virgin olive oil into it, then take a bulb of garlic and bust out a clove.
Okay, maybe bust out ten cloves, then remove the skin (here‘s an easy way to remove the skin from a clove of garlic), chop, slice, dice, or just toss in the whole clove, and wait. In a few minutes your house will fill with the unmistakable aroma of garlic sautéing, and then, if your salivary glands are functioning properly, your mouth will water and then your brain will send a signal down to that mouth and instruct it to utter:

“Mmmmm, that smell! Whatcha cookin’?”

Garlic, a member of the onion family, has been around for thousands of years. It is a basic component in many dishes in just about every country on the planet. Being a lover of Italian cuisine (have you tried my mom‘s lasagna?), I am conditioned to carry gum or mints with me whenever I dine out due to the pungent aftertaste of garlic in most Italian cooking. Yes, garlic has a strong taste, smell, attitude. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, garlic’s sometimes overwhelming “attitude” is what makes is such a standout addition to not just Italian cooking, but as I mention earlier, just about all cooking. From spicy Mexican meals to stir-fry Asian fare, garlic mingles easily with tomatoes, ginger, onions, and my favorite, olive oil.

Still, some people shy away from this caustic clove, afraid that once ingested, or even touched, they will be forever labeled “Mr. Garlic Breath.” And while having a nickname that calls attention to foul smelling fumes emitting from your pie hole is not pleasant, it surely is not enough of a liability to keep you away from making garlic a part of your everyday dietary routine.

Here’s a video where I talk more about the benefits of garlic, as well as demonstrate an easy way to remove its skin:

The addition of garlic spices up marinara sauces, salsa, hummus, and hundreds of other dishes. It also has many health benefits and has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Among the claims:

* helps prevent heart disease
* lowers cholesterol and high blood pressure
* fights cancer
* combats the common cold
* regulates blood sugar levels
* works as an antiseptic

While the health benefits of garlic are not all medically proven or approved, one claim I’m sure we can all agree with is:


(and that’s a good thing!)

The next time you’re grocery shopping, grab a few bulbs of garlic and chop away. Sure, your hands and breath and hair and shirt and house and backyard and entire neighborhood will reek from garlic, but you will also, no doubt, have cooked up a tasty dinner that will make those same neighbors' mouths water and their brains send signals to those salivating mouths, inspiring them to utter:

“Mmmmm, that smell! Whatcha cookin’?”


Until next time…



Monday, November 17, 2008

I Want That! And That! And That!

Stuff. Things. Possessions.

We all like to buy stuff, right? As a self-admitted collector, there’s nothing I enjoy more than perusing a quaint used bookstore in search of a rare first edition to complete a collected set of one of my favorite authors.

We work hard all day, why not splurge a little and go for that extra-extra, big-big flat screen HDTV, right? Or take that expensive vacation to the Mediterranean. Or opt for an extra 500 square feet and the three-car garage for that stunning house in that gated community.

Why not?
You deserve it.
Or do you?

Merit. Deserve. Entitlement.
I want it all! Now!

Living ABOVE your means.

The recent credit crunch, housing market bubble burst, and subsequent Wall Street meltdown has made all of us more cognizant of our financial situations. But all these financial fireworks and government bailouts and foreclosures and job loses and political promises and 401K angst have one major connection, one common thread:


I like to compare those living above their means to someone who is grossly overweight, knows they need to change, but just keeps eating too much of the wrong foods until they eventually face dire health (and all too often catastrophic financial) consequences.

They need help.

They need to learn to “budget” their caloric intake. Need to understand why they THINK they NEED to eat the wrong foods and the wrong amounts. Same thing goes for those overspending, being financially careless.

They need to live within their means.

While practicing better fitness and nutrition is always a major focus of mine at, this particular post deals more with financial responsibility and personal accountability. By the way, if you are looking for ways to help you lose weight or would like to learn more about nutrition and fitness, these videos will help.

For more about my feelings on Living Within Your Means, please enjoy this video:

Now, for the hard part: Changing!

Just as the politicians, during the recently completed (it IS over, right?) presidential campaign, pounded the need for change into our heads, we, too, need to make changes in the way WE do things. But, guess what?

Change is good!

Is change easy?

That’s another story. Change can be painful, difficult, challenging, but no less painful or challenging as filing for bankruptcy. Or having your house foreclosed on. Or having to ignore a medical condition because you can’t afford to visit a doctor.

Here are some ways to help you try to live within your means:

* ADMIT you have a problem. Take personal accountability and understand that you CAN’T AFFORD everything that you WANT. Hey, I would love another 500 square feet and a nifty three-car garage, but will not put myself into unnecessary debt just to have it.

* BUDGET YOURSELF. Go on a financial diet. Just like when dieting to lose unwanted pounds, this is easier said than done. What can you do?

* EDUCATE YOURSELF. Reading this post, as well as visiting websites like, is a great start, but don’t stop there. Read, read, and read some more. Ask questions to qualified financial experts every chance you get. The more you know the better ability you have to understand your particular financial situation, what you can and cannot afford. You should know how much of a mortgage you can afford BEFORE you ever sit down across from a member of any lending institution. If you don’t, then you’re probably not ready to buy a house.

* THINK LAYAWAY. Before the human race became consumed with credit, they used to pay for things BEFORE they bought them. This not only gives you a wonderful sense of accomplishment and appreciation, but it also keeps you out of unwanted and sometimes devastating debt. It helps you…


In a way, living a layaway life is the antithesis of being under the misguided misconception of feeling compelled to have a life of entitlement.

Simply put: We need to change.

Change the way we think.
Change the way we spend.
Yes, change the way we eat (had to throw that one in).

Change the way we live.

There’s a lot of nice stuff out there, things and possessions that we all think we need and can’t live without. But unless you really, really need something, or at least can easily afford it, then the solution is simple:

Just say no.

And try to change your life…for the better.

Until next time…



Friday, November 7, 2008

Good vs. Bad

Life is all about choices. Take the recently completed presidential election. Millions of Americans were offered a ballot filled with multiple choices. From those choices, we analyze, ponder, discuss, weigh the pros and cons, then make our selections. While a national election is a major event that challenges our decision-making prowess, the personal choices we all make every day of our lives are equally, if not more, important.

One of the reoccurring messages I advocate on this blog and my video site,, is taking personal accountability for your actions. Part of being personally accountable is making choices. Often, this is not as easy as it seems (think back to all those propositions or initiatives, along with the multiple candidates on that ballot, calling to you on election day.) As with many of the options confronting us this past Tuesday, many of them are good, while just as many are bad. Same can be said about our own life choices.

Livelife365 is all about choices, hopefully helping to assist you in making the right choices for improving your life by offering entertaining blog posts and videos that show fun ways that can change your life for the better.

While recovering from my recent shoulder surgery, I have not been able to exercise as much as I normally do. I have also cut myself some slack (or maybe it’s just the Vicodin talking) and have indulged in some unhealthy snacking. Choices. Some good and some bad. The end results of those personal choices is that I’ve gained a few unwanted pounds that I do not like, but know that I will eventually drop. How do I know this? Because I will utilize the same healthy eating and fitness practices that helped me lose two pounds a week and keep that weight off for years.

I will make GOOD CHOICES.

Here is a video I created that demonstrates, in a fun and entertaining way, some good and bad choices confronting us in our daily lives.


Some anticipated questions, along with my answers, about the above video:

Q: Were you really smoking?
A: No, those were fake cigarettes that my wife bought for Halloween.
Q: Were you really drinking?
A: No, just pretending. I’ve not tasted alcohol since 1992.
Q: Were you really eating those Doritos?
A: Yes…and they were good!
Q: What’s with you and that wig?
A: I Miss My Hair
Q: How’s the shoulder?
A: Sill painful, but getting better every day.

Life is all about choices, some good and some bad. We all have the power to make the right choices that can help us live a healthier, happier, longer, and more rewarding life.

Until next time…