Saturday, February 28, 2009

Reward Your Weaknesses (By Turning Them Into Strengths)

We all have weaknesses, encompassing myriad aspects of our lives, be it health and fitness challenges, personal development and growth issues, or career and relationship struggles. And then there are food weaknesses. For me, I have a soft spot for salty snacks, like potato chips. I have also been known to power down copious amounts of Doritos with the best of them. What’s your food weakness? Candy? Chocolate? Pizza? Cheese? Cake? Soda? Fast food?

The good news is: help is only a video away:


* by the way, if you enjoyed this video (or despised it), please visit and let me know your feelings by utilizing my new comment system; if would be mucho appreciated!

In the above vid, I focused on food weaknesses, like my naughty secret (not-so-secret anymore!) addiction to potato chips. But most of our weaknesses do not stop there. We are, after all, human beings, which makes us flawed individuals, which throughout a lifetime of living leads us to acquire a multitude of weaknesses. Anything from not exercising enough to watching too much daytime TV; from procrastination to condescension. Being too unorganized to being just plain lazy. These are all typical human weaknesses, and all share one commonality:


Let’s start with some common, and not-so-common, quotes:

“The mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
“Mind over matter.”
“If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
(one of mine)
“To err is human, to forgive divine.”
“Cut yourself some slack, man!”
(another one of mine)

By admitting and accepting that as human beings we are going to have our share of weaknesses, we can then begin to understand them, and then work on overcoming them.

Let’s return to that potato chip (and Doritos) jones I’ve been nursing since I tasted my first salty treat as a curious child growing up in New England.

FACT: Chips, while made for the most part from natural ingredients, are loaded with sodium and empty calories.
FACT: Mass consumption of chips will contribute to unhealthy weight gain, hypertension, and a laundry list of assorted maladies (possibly diabetes, heart disease, obesity).
FACT: I love chips and could eat them every day.

SOLUTION: Don’t run from your favorite weaknesses, embrace them! Use that weakness as a reward for sacrifice.

Here’s where those earlier quotes come into play. Use them to play mind games with yourself. By embracing your weakness as a good thing, you will eliminate some of the guilt associated with said weakness. By denying yourself your weakness (and, granted, this is by far the most difficult part) through self-sacrifice, focusing instead on exercise, moderation, concentration, and good, old-fashion determination during the five-day workweek, you can then reward yourself with said weakness, in moderation, on the weekend.

Make sense?

It’s all about risk versus reward. We know what the reward is: taste, comfort, fun, and favorite foods. And I’ve already listed the risks. The rest is up to you; your choice. While I have focused mainly on food weaknesses, this formula can be used for almost any other weakness; just follow the formula and give it a try.

If you want to live a better, happier, healthier, longer life, then you have to make sacrifices, need to deprive yourself of some things, and then reward yourself for your efforts.

I’d like to close with my favorite quote on this topic, and one I’m the most proud of:

“Exercise control, control your weaknesses, and your weaknesses will become your strengths.”

Think about it.

Until next time…



Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Watch a Video, Drop a Comment!

Ah, comments! How we bloggers and website proprietors adore comments. A comment is like a note, a howdy from a fan, friend, foe or fool (and those are just the “F”s!). Comments represent that oh, so, sought after “F” word: FEEDBACK! The only thing we blogging folks and website owners adore more than comments is feedback. Feedback is the stuff that equally crushes egos and inflates them, encourages one to continue down that sometimes lonely path of creative endeavor or gives you that valuable two-cents worth telling you to try some other hobby. Feedback, in the form of comments, is a good thing!

So why don’t I have a simple, fast and easy way to drop comments on my website, The answers now is:


There is no simple reason why it’s taken me this long to have a comment page added to my vid site except my stubbornness and frugality. Stubborn, because my video site already has several places where one, if so inclined, can leave comments or messages. My thought being: I don’t need one! (wrong, Mike!). As for my being a cheapskate, well, that is self-explanatory.

Enter: Webxpertz and Multi Media Information.

My two buddies, Keith and Eric, helped design and create my video site and are always there for me for all my website needs. I tell them I need something, they say it’s impossible to do, then do it, at a very reasonable cost. Just listen to this guy go on about them: “Thanks Webxpertz and MMI."

But why do I use these guys, when places like Blogger and WordPress offer their services for free? From the horse’s (Eric’s) mouth: “LL365 is a custom-built website. Some templates are quite attractive, easy to use for developers with limited skills and experience, and employ a structure that has been broadly tested and is familiar to wide audiences. But, they can have a "same old thing" appearance, and typically are limited in terms of a sense of individuality. Over a period of time, having complete control over the structure, format, content, and functionality of your site allows you to grow and change as your interests, abilities, and resources expand.

WebXpertz is a friendly team with a wide range of development skills in coding, scripting, programming, and all aspects of building a presence on the Internet. The support forums are a valuable resource for small businesses and hobbyists at all levels of ability. Their cost of services is certainly reasonable, especially when compared to many competitors in the market.”

Besides all that, Eric also is a top-notch copy editor. His work on the development and ongoing maintenance of both my sites is priceless. He is also an outstanding researcher whose valuable input on my blog posts is much appreciated (and needed). Do yourself a favor, and check them out the next time your website needs a facelift.

Besides the nifty comment page, these guys also created an equally nifty VOD format.

What, you may be asking, is VOD? Listen to this guy go on and on and on (like he usually does): “New: VOD and Comments!"

When you get right down to it, we all want to be loved, adored, have dozens of wonderful comments dropped on our sites. And in return, we all visit other sites and do the same. Why? Because it’s what we do, we bloggers, and it’s the right thing to do. Dropping comments is like visiting your next-door neighbor and saying “hello.” Like going to your favorite restaurant and chatting with the hostess. Like hanging out way too long in the produce section of your local grocery store and gabbing with your buddy, the produce guy (and do I ever get in trouble with the missus for doing it). It is electronic social networking at its finest. And speaking of social networking…

…stay tuned for my newest music video titled “Social Networking Blues.” If you enjoyed I Miss My Hair, you will love this. I promise. And when you visit my video site to watch it (or any of the hundreds of videos I’ve produced about health, personal development and entertainment), then drop me a comment letting me know what you think. It would make my day. And yours too.

Until next time…



A “how-to” video for your viewing pleasure:

How To…Eat a Banana:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I Smell Asparagus!

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I mention asparagus? For me, it’s not how much I enjoy those tasty green (or white) spears, though I can think of few other vegetables that I like as much as asparagus. Does your mind automatically go through the long list of all the health benefits associated with a diet filled with asparagus? Probably not. The first thing that comes to my mind, besides the guilt associated with my inability to add adequate amounts of asparagus to my already veggie-loaded plate, is the, er, um, ahem…smell. That’s right, the odor wafting up from the, ahh, you know, toilet…that aromatic red flag nudging my nostrils reminding me that, yes, I remember now, I had asparagus for dinner.

Could it be that funky stench is the reason why asparagus, while highly regarded in some cultures, is not as popular as it should be? Perhaps, like that pungent bulb of flavor, garlic, it is eschewed rather than embraced due to a particular lingering aftereffect of the somewhat smelly kind? Well, I’d like to change all that, melt away those stinky misconceptions and celebrate this wonderfully tasty and surprisingly nutritionally robust vegetable.


* asparagus is a member of the lily family
* plants are usually not harvested for the first three years
* after harvesting, the spears grow into ferns which produce red berries
* a spear can grow up to ten inches in 24 hours
* the larger diameter spears are considered better quality
* California produces the most asparagus in the United States (over 70%)
* asparagus is one of the most nutritionally balanced veggies

Now, what about that smell? Do you know why your urine has a distinct odor after consuming asparagus? Before I get into that, let’s look at the nutritional benefits of asparagus first.


* is an excellent source of folacin (folic acid)
* is a good source of fiber and potassium
* is a significant source of thiamin and vitamin B6
* is rich in rutin (a bioflavinoid)
* has no fat or cholesterol
* is very low in calories

While I did not produce a video about the wonders of asparagus, I do have one of me eating just about everything else:


Every spring the asparagus is celebrated at a huge festival a few miles south of where I live. The Stockton Asparagus Festival is one of the most popular food fests on the west coast. While enjoying all things asparagus, you can munch on asparaburritos, asparagus salsa and nachos, and for dessert, asparaberry shortcake. Can you imagine what those port-a-johns smell like?

And speaking of that smell. First off, not all of us are affected (or afflicted) with that unique odor during urination after consuming asparagus, though I don’t know too many people who are not. One theory has to do with enzymes and how the amino acids in this veggie break down…blahblahblah. Here is a more thorough scientific explanation.

Anymore questions? No? Good. I say ignore the smell and consume massive quantities of this delicious and nutrient-rich vegetable as often as possible. I know I’m going to.

Until next time…



Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Are Your Foods Super?

The other day, while reading the newspaper (and ignoring my computer), I made a discovery that made me smile, put the paper aside, boot up my laptop, grab a handful of walnuts, and create this video:


This is exciting news for me because I have been promoting healthy dietary choices on this blog and at for years, foods that if eaten regularly can help prevent disease, maintain your weight, and prolong your life. Through a lifetime of trial and error, a voracious appetite for reading and the accumulation of knowledge, extensive research, and just what makes me feel good, I’ve discovered dozens of wonderful foods that have helped me lose weight, stay fit, reduce many illnesses and maladies, and, hopefully, will allow me to live a long, happy life. The cool thing is that many of the foods that I have long advocated and devoured on a regular basis have been labeled SUPER FOODS for their ability to do all of those aforementioned amazing things.

Here are some of the SUPER FOODS that I eat all the time, and that I encourage you to try to add to your eating regimen:

BEANS (You Don‘t Know Beans)
OATS (Why Oatmeal Rules)
SOY (Why Soy?”)
GREEN TEA (Drink Green Tea Every Day)
TOMATOES (Fruit or Vegetable? Who Cares, Just Eat Tomatoes Every Day!)


SALMON AND TURKEY are also considered SUPER FOODS, but are not on the list of foods I consume because I no longer eat animal protein—but that shouldn’t stop you! Back in the day, when I was a meat-eater, I ate tons of turkey and fish.

Why are these foods considered so SUPER? One thing they all have in common is that they are UNPROCESSED. Most of them are loaded with ANTIOXIDANTS and ANTI-INFLAMATORIES. Many of them are high in FIBER and MONOUNSATURATED FATS (the good kind!), and the best part: THEY ALL TASTE GREAT!

Many nutritional experts agree that a steady diet of these SUPER FOODS can:

* help reduce the risk of some cancers
* lower cholesterol
* manage hypertension
* lose weight and help maintain optimum weight
* reduce the risks of heart disease, stroke and diabetes
* enable you to live longer

The most encouraging thing I found while researching these SUPER FOODS was that the more digging I did, the more SUPER FOODS I discovered! And more often than not these foods satisfied my vegetarian lifestyle. Here are a few more SUPER FOODS:

(Viva Avocado!”)

The point of all this is not to hit you over the head with all these so-called SUPER FOODS, but to encourage you to try to add as many healthier eating choices as possible to your daily diet. Why? Because as I often like to say, “Eat the right foods and the right amounts and you will enjoy a happier, healthier, longer life.”

Until next time…



For more excellent reading about SUPER FOODS and other healthy topics, please visit WebMD, an invaluable wealth of information that assisted me in the writing of this post.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

More Veg Out With Mike

One of my favorite hobbies is traveling, visiting new places, or revisiting old haunts, and exploring all that those areas have to offer. During these explorations, I often find myself seated at a table, fork in hand, excited to indulge in the local culinary offerings. My ultimate quest is to discover the best eggplant Parmesan trattoria or tastiest pizza palace. I also scour downtowns and back alleyways in search of classic Mexican or Asian cuisine, delectable vegetarian fare or delis that offer amazing subs, heroes, grinders, hoagies, Dagwoods…er, sandwiches. And don’t forget good, old-fashioned diner food.

Ahh, those were the days, right? I mean, you’re saying to yourselves: Mike can’t eat all that diner food, given that he’s a vegetarian, that he is constantly shoving healthy eating down our throats, that if he doesn’t use the word “fiber” in every other sentence something very bad may happen to him.

Hold on a second: FIBER, FIBER, FIBER!

There, I feel so much better. Where was I? Right, explaining how much I miss some of the greasy, tasty, fattening, comforting foods that are found in thousands of diners or cafes across the far reaches of this planet. Foods like fried chicken, chicken-fried steak, bacon and eggs, cheeseburgers, macaroni and cheese, Reuben sandwiches or a home-cooked turkey dinner with all the fixings. And meatloaf.

Man, of all those comfort foods that I have given up in search of a healthier, slimmer, happier Mike, meatloaf with mashed potatoes, smothered in brown gravy is tops on my list.

Wait, did someone mention brown gravy? Here’s a meat-free brown mushroom gravy that tastes as good as your granny used to make:


One of the reasons I created my VEG OUT WITH MIKE series was the need to find healthier ways to enjoy comfort foods, like meatloaf. But there’s one large obstacle for someone like me when it comes to meatloaf.

Ah, what’s that, Mike?

How about the first four letters.

You mean: M-E-A-T?


My challenge was to create a meatless meatloaf, without giving up flavor and texture, while not only satisfying my vegetarian and heart-healthy lifestyle, but a meatless loaf that was loaded with protein. Because like it or not (and I know many of you LOVE meat), meat remains the number one source of protein. And one of the biggest challenges for us veg-heads is making sure we get enough protein in our daily diets. Which brings me to my next video:


This meatless meatloaf has over 50 grams of vegetable protein and is loaded with FIBER…there’s that word again. And the best part: It tastes great!

But who can eat meatloaf, meatless or otherwise, without mashed potatoes? I already showed you how to make a delicious brown gravy, meat-free and healthy, now all we need are some potatoes (and a few veggies, like broccoli or cauliflower or asparagus or carrots, on the side), mashed and smothered with milk and butter, right?


These garlic smashed potatoes have no butter or milk. And I gotta tell ya, they are one of the tastiest dishes I’ve inhaled in a long time. A friend of mine just tried this recipe, a gentleman who loves his butter, by the way, and told me that these potatoes were amazing. To quote: “I actually tasted the potato…and that’s a good thing!” For the best mashed potatoes, and the healthiest, you’ve ever wolfed down, check out this video:


Have I forgotten anything? I don’t think so. Okay, maybe dessert. I’m going to have to work on that one, perhaps for the next Veg Out With Mike.

Remember, comfort foods don’t have to be loaded with unhealthy fats and sodium and animal protein to still taste good…and bring you the comfort that has made them your favorites since childhood. I hope you enjoy one, or all, of the above recipes. And, as always, keep living your (healthy) life every day, every way with livelife365.

Until next time…