Saturday, January 28, 2012

The New Silent Killer

Q: What is the most lethal silent killer facing the world today?

The first reply from most of us would probably be hypertension—as it is seldom symptomatic.  Or high cholesterol, for the same reason.  How about obesity or heart disease?  All valid guesses, but how can obesity be considered a silent killer?

What about diabetes?

I recently finished an excellent book called Sugar Nation, written by Jeff O’Connell.  In it, Jeff, a thin and seemingly healthy man who is fighting diabetes, goes into lengthy and fascinating detail about how this disease is growing at record numbers.  And is not only afflicting the obese and sugar-scrafers.  It attacks the slender and fit folks, and potentially people like me, who ingest little sugar, but have some carbohydrate food challenges.

Jeff’s father died from diabetes; I’m sure this motivated him to write Sugar Nation.  I can relate to that, as my father died in his mid-fifties from years of tobacco abuse, along with overindulging in alcohol and unhealthy food choices.  It was through his death that I became the health advocate that I am today.  And helped motivate me to create this blog and my website,

I was recently asked by Jeff’s marketing team to write a review of Sugar Nation.  I offer it here for you to read and learn, and strongly urge you to buy the book.  It just may save your life.

Oh, and, of course, I also produced this video about Jeff's book for your viewing pleasure:

One thought that continued to meander around my brain as I dove into Jeff O’Connell’s must-read book, Sugar Nation, was that I did not consider myself a sugar-eater.  All my life I have been lucky to eschew the temptations of a sweet tooth for the desire to indulge in more salty snacks.  I could literally walk past a mound of brownies and dishes filled with chocolates without batting an eye.  Yet find it quite difficult to put down a bag of potato chips without consuming most of them.  But did you know that the carbohydrates from that bag of chips turns into as much sugar, once processed and stored inside the body, as consuming spoonfuls of the sweet stuff?

Sugar Nation reads as much like a personal memoir as a convincing diatribe against the medical community for seemingly turning a blind eye toward one of the worst killers decimating the world today—diabetes.  

Jeff O’Connell, a diabetic battling the same disease that killed his father, knows of what he speaks.  A former executive writer at Men’s Health and editor at Muscle & Fitness, Jeff decided to take matters into his own hands in his fight against this growing disease.  Through a tireless energy and investigative zeal (challenging, given his constant battle with low blood sugar, spiking insulin, crashing insulin, and the countless maladies that accompany diabetes), Jeff shatters conventional (and at times very incorrect) wisdom, deciding to battle his illness with diet and exercise, rather than the all-too-often remedy: prescription drugs.

I am familiar with this type of attitude when it comes to not accepting the first (or second or third) opinion of someone in the medical profession.  A few years ago I was overweight, had high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol and glucose levels.  The immediate reaction from my doctors was to reach for a prescription pad.  My immediate reaction was—do I want to spend the rest of my life gobbling pills?  Or could I do something myself to change those life-threatening results?

Like Jeff, I combated my nemesis through diet, exercise, and supplements.  The results were so amazing (I dropped forty pounds in six months and lowered my blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol down to healthy levels) that I created my self-help video website,  I wanted to reach as many people as possible so I could share my successes.  Just like what Jeff is doing with Sugar Nation.

While I consider myself a guy who knows what to eat, and what not to, I learned a lot from Jeff about healthy diet—especially when it comes to carbs.  I lost most of my weight through a high-fiber, low-fat diet.  But that diet may not work best for diabetics.  More animal proteins and only carbs high in fiber are the keys to not only healthy weight loss, but assisting in the fight against diabetes.  I learned that some carbs I have been consuming daily for years (potatoes and bananas) may not be as good for me as I thought.

Sugar Nation is a wakeup call.  Not just for the billions of overweight and obese people out there who are walking time bombs for stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.  But to all those seemingly fit folks (like Jeff, a tall and thin man often misdiagnosed because of how he looked) who need to change the way they live.  It is also a very well written critique of our healthcare system, the medical profession, and the powerful pharmacological lobby that seems to affect how the former go about their business.

I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. 

Who knows, reading it may just save your life…or a loved ones.

Think about it.



Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Looking Forward

Last week I wrote a post about looking back at 2011, reviewing many wonderful accomplishments, as well as taking a moment to do some self-back-slapping.  For me, it was a memorable year that had many achievements.  But not all of 2011 was stellar—I start this year with plenty of opportunities for improvement.
My 2012 to-do list shares many of the same daily expectations I hold myself accountable to while ensuring I maintain my triad of balance—the interconnected coexistence between the MIND, BODY, and SPIRT.

Let’s start with the MIND:
  •      Read more, if possible (especially more diverse, undiscovered areas that I normally do not venture into).
  •         Finish writing two books and self-publish them (both are almost done, just need some tweaking, polish, and editing. “God’s Will,” and “We Can Change the World…If We Wanted To.”).
  •        Continue to create and produce more entertaining and relevant videos, start another website, with a goal of doubling my current success I have had with livelife365.
  •         Continue to grow in my “day job,” strive to reach more people in whatever endeavor suits me best (in other words: keep plugging away, be thankful to be employed with a job that challenges my creative side while affording me the ability to earn a decent wage…).
  •          Learn to organize better—I have lots of strengths as a human being, but being organized is not one of them.  I vow to continue to work on being better with all of the above.
  •        Produce two more music videos and another original song (both already in the works, with the hope of publication by mid-year).
  •         Be a better social networker—while I am not as fond of this practice as one would think, given the success and necessity of my websites and this genre, if you will, I need to be better to ensure said success.  And to grow even more!  I am working on it daily.
  •          Get back to doing daily crosswords (my new desk calendar, by the way, is a daily ten-minute crossword puzzle…that should help).
  •          Write more…again, if possible, given all of the above.  But one of my passions in life has always been writing.  And while I do write daily and have produced a plethora of wide-ranging results of that practice, I would still love to write even more.  It can be done, I just need to find the time and balance (see SPIRIT goals).
Next, the BODY:
  •        Drop these excess travel pounds!  This is a major bone of contention for me, as I have always been in great shape and advocate the need for limited dietary intake.  I also know that a dozen (or more!) excess pounds can lead to so many detrimental physical ailments: heart disease; diabetes; cancer; gastrointestinal problems; and bone and muscle issues.
  •          Maintain a better routine of exercise.  By that I mean, walking EVERYDAY!  And upping my thrice-weekly weight program with more reps and pounds.  Also keeping it going on weekends—these are the times that I tend to kick back.
  •          Cut back on the carbs and add more protein.  As a vegetarian, I tend to consume more carbs than I’d like.  While I always strive to eat complex, high in fiber, carbs, I sometimes do not.  I vow to cut back on the empty carbohydrates, while concentrating on more complex, high fiber carbs.  And will add more fish into my once only vegetarian diet.  A good thing, in the healthy long run.
  •          Sleep more!  I used to get by on six hours of sleep a night…not anymore.  I need to kick back in bed and close my eyes sooner rather than later.  Sleep deprivation will shorten one’s life as fast as poor diet and lack of exercise.  Don’t under estimate the necessity of adequate sleep.  I’m not going to.
  •          Balance.  I need to spend more time with my wife, family, and friends versus staring at this computer screen.  While I love the work I do, I need to also find the balance in my days to spend less time working and more time enjoying.  I often advocate the need to find the time and balance in one’s life to do all that you need to do to be all that you need to be…but also you need to find the time to be just you.  Think about it.
  •         Incorporate more diverse exercise programs, et al. into my weekly routine.  Like yoga, tai chi, and even Pilates…whatever works.  As we grow older, our bodies change and what once worked as an exercise regimen may no longer.  I am cool with discovering new ways to stay in shape.  Even Wei…whatever floats your boat and keeps that boat afloat.

Last, but not least, the SPIRIT:
  •          Spend more time with my wife.  We have already started an every quarter day out of work to spend together.  Last month we spent a Friday away from the office, went out to breakfast, and then just hung out.  We also investigated local volunteer opportunities that we could work on.
  •         Volunteer more.  While I pride myself in spending time helping others, I still can do lots more.  2012 I want to do even more than ever.  My wife and I have applied to several local charitable places that need support, like Meals on Wheels and Hospice Care.  We are in the process of setting up a regular volunteer schedule that will assist these places over the coming years.
  •         Find more balance.  I have mentioned this earlier in this post, but repeat it here to underscore its importance.  While I love working at my full-time job and all of my blogs and websites, I understand the importance of balancing those vocations with the rest of my life.  Family and friends, working around the house, relaxation, or just kicking back and doing little other than watching some goofy television show are equally as important as earning a living and spreading the good word of livelife365.  One of my biggest opportunities of this year is to better balance my life.  All work and no play really did make Jack a dull boy.
  •          Stretch my mind to understand others more.  While I consider myself a compassionate person, I sometimes overlook what motivates and makes other people do the things they do, and in turn, be so utterly different than what I feel they should be.  My desire to help them change, or just be better in many aspects of their lives, at times flusters me.  One of my spiritual goals this year it to be more open minded, forgive more, and stretch my mind to openly embrace more diverse attitudes and personas…while still vowing to share the programs and successes of livelife365 as best I can.
  •         Practice more random acts of kindness.  It sounds simple and very obvious, but holding open the door for someone or reaching for an item from a tall self for a wheelchair-bond person used be the norm, the decent thing to do.  No matter how we arrived at this place in society, I still have no problem waving someone before me into traffic or holding the elevator door rather than frantically pressing the close button.  Kindness is a virtue, a compassionate necessity that makes us human beings what we are.
  •         Meditate even more.  I take great spiritual joy from my daily zazen, every morning.  Yet my desire and my ability to add more time to my sittings often conflict.  This year I would love nothing more than to double my meditation times, daily.  I have no doubt that this will lead to nothing but good things: a more relaxed, complete, fulfilled and happy Mike Foster.

This is a pretty big list, but one that I am thrilled to have at.  What’s on your list of things to do in 2012?  
Resolutions and goals are a vital necessity for anyone who wants to change their lives for the better.  But as I always encourage, don’t only set goals at the start of a new year.  Set goals to better yourself and your life throughout the year.

Until next time…