The KFC Double Down: A Gamble With Your Life

This artery-clogging behemoth of a “sandwich” has been out for about a year, but since I don’t watch much television and certainly don’t eat fast food, I just found out about it today during a commercial while watching the Giants game yesterday.

What the heck is it?  It’s two pieces of fried chicken with two pieces of bacon, two slices of cheese, and the Colonel’s special sauce piled high in between.  You’ve got to be kidding me.  Two pieces of deep-fried extra crispy chicken make up the “roll”.  A quick ingredient search (right on KFC’s website) lists the 16 ingredients in KFC’s extra crispy chicken.  Sixteen ingredients in a piece of fried chicken?  That’s barely food.  Add two slices of bacon (only 7 ingredients), two slices of cheese (4 ingredients), and of course the Colonel’s special sauce, a glorious concoction of 23 different ingredients, about half a dozen of which I can pronounce.  What do you get when you add all of that up?  A widow-maker of a sandwich that clocks in at 540 calories, 32 grams of fat, and 1,380 mg of sodium.  You say 540 calories isn’t so bad?  You’re right, 540 calories is a good amount of calories to eat for lunch for most people.  But two things:  1.  These aren’t food calories and therefore certainly aren’t healthy.  Every single one of these ingredients is produced in a factory.  There’s nothing natural here.  And 2.  I’m willing to bet that fewer than 5% of all people who eat this sandwich eat just the sandwich.  An overwhelming majority, I bet, eat this with a side of fries and a soda, which will push them up into the 4-digit calorie range for sure.

It’s worth repeating:  this is NOT food.  It’s processed garbage made in factories.  If your chicken has 16 different ingredients, there’s a problem.  But the more serious problem is that people think a sandwich like this is okay.  This sandwich, in a way, represents what is wrong with our society and represents exactly the type of food and type of eating that we have to get away from.

If the problem is a sandwich like this, then the solution is education.  Educating people about what real food is, educating people about what fast food really is, educating people about the decisions they are able to make and the decisions they should make.  Michael Pollan is doing it.  So are Eric Schlosser and Dan Buettner.  Get on board.

This is my goal, my passion, and the reason I got into the health coaching business.  I want to educate as many people as possible.  I want to help people live healthier lives.  Healthier lives lead to better lives.  I want to better people.

So what can you do?  For starters, prevent your friends and loved ones from eating things like the Double Down.  And not just the Double Down, but anything like it.  Anything that doesn’t resemble real food.  Anything with multiple ingredients that you can’t pronounce.  Tell your friends to examine their eating choices and help them make better decisions.

There is an endless sea of information out there from which we can all learn.  Let’s help each other during this process.  Let’s help each other live healthier lives.  What do you say?



Filed under Diets, Food, General Health

Dare to Create Your Own Reality

“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to
experience the world in the way they have been told to.”
– Alan Keightley

This is a great quote and one to keep in mind daily, multiple times daily.  I have to create my own life.  There are molds and expectations and norms out there and paths and trajectories that most people follow.  There are no rules that tell me that I have to follow those paths.  It’s a huge illusion.  It’s also so easy to get wrapped up in it all, thinking that you can’t have this or that or you can’t do this or that.  Or that you can only do that if you do this first.  Or everything is difficult and requires decades of hard work.  No, that is all just a socially accepted set of beliefs that most people follow because it is easier to do so than create and follow your own set of beliefs.  The people that follow the paths of normalcy will tell you that life is hard work, life is stressful, nothing comes easy, there are always problems to solve, and on and on.  Don’t listen to those people.  Let them speak for themselves and let them live that life if they so choose.  But you?  You’re better than that.  Who says you have to subscribe to such nonsense?  Life doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful or non-exciting or a constant grind.  It can be exciting, fascinating, and positive every day.  It’s your choice.

Step outside for a while.  Examine your life as an outsider looking in.  Don’t go through life just following the norm, following what those around you are doing.  Believe.  Create.  Do.  Dare to be different.  Dare to live an exciting life.  Dare to create your own rules, your own way of living.  What have you got to lose?

Successful people don’t leave their lives up to chance.  They don’t follow the paths laid out for them by the millions of people who’ve come before.  No.  Successful people create their own paths because they know there is a better way, a more exciting way.  Swim against the tide.  Do something that people tell you is impossible.  Do something you think you can’t do.  You’ll surprise yourself.  I guarantee it.

Once you step outside and observe yourself, you’ll realize how silly it is that the majority of people subscribe to “reality”.  What the heck is reality?  Reality is nothing more than what most people do.  Look around you.  Are most people happy, excited on a daily basis, successful, content, positive?  I don’t think so.  So why would you subscribe to their set of beliefs?  Why would you emulate your world after theirs?

Dig deep.  Have a heart.  Have the guts.  Find the guts.  Just do whatever you’ve got to do to challenge your reality.  It’s fun.  I promise.

Have a great weekend!

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Filed under Motivation

The Double Life – Which One Are You?

I don’t know where I first came across this poem from the mid-twentieth century vagabond poet Don Blanding, but it’s been one of my favorites for years.  It stirs the travel bug in all of us.  Which one are you?

The Double Life
By Don Blanding

How very simple life would be
If only there were two of me
A Restless Me to drift and roam
A Quiet Me to stay at home.
A Searching One to find his fill
Of varied skies and newfound thrill
While sane and homely things are done
By the domestic Other One.

And that’s just where the trouble lies;
There is a Restless Me that cries
For chancy risks and changing scene,
For arctic blue and tropic green,
For deserts with their mystic spell,
For lusty fun and raising Hell

But shackled to that Restless Me
My Other Self rebelliously
Resists the frantic urge to move.
It seeks the old familiar groove
That habits make. It finds content

With hearth and home dear prisonment,
With candlelight and well loved books
And treasured loot in dusty nooks,
With puttering and garden things
And dreaming while a cricket sings
And all the while the Restless One
Insists on more exciting fun
It wants to go with every tide,
No matter where… just for the ride.
Like yowling cats the two selves brawl
Until I have no peace at all.

One eye turns to the forward track,
The other eye looks sadly back,
I’m getting wall-eyed from the strain,
(It’s tough to have an idle brain)
But One says “Stay” and One says “Go”
And One says “Yes,” and One says “no,”
And One Self wants a home and wife
And One Self craves the drifter’s life.

The Restless Fellow always wins
I wish my folks had made me twins.


Filed under Motivation

What Should You Drink INSTEAD of Gatorade?

I owe my readers an apology.  Last week I published a rather lengthy post detailing the reasons Gatorade isn’t really good for you.  I presented you with all of the problems of Gatorade.  I felt it was informative and I hope you did too.  But I apologize because I didn’t offer a solution.  If you shouldn’t drink Gatorade, then what should you drink?

Well, to begin at the beginning, why do people think they need Gatorade in the first place?  It’s supposed to provide you with much-needed electrolytes that you lose during extended periods of intense exercise.  When we sweat for long periods of time (over an hour), we lose water, sodium, potassium, and calcium, the three key electrolytes in our bodies.  Chugging the magic Gatorade is supposed to replenish what we lose during exercise.  But if you read the post, Gatorade is nothing but non-carbonated soda.  It’s loaded with HFCS and other junk and is far from natural.

Most experts, including yours truly, will tell you that you don’t need an electrolyte recovery drink unless you’re exercising at an relatively intense level for more than 75 minutes.  Anything below this and you’re usually fine just hydrating and recovering with water (in addition to food of course).  Your body can get what it needs from the water and the nutrients in healthy food choices without the quick hit of a bottle of Gatorade or other sports drink.

So unless you’re training for or competing in a marathon, playing a long intense game of soccer or rugby, or your name is Dean Karnazes, you generally don’t need a sport drink for recovery.  But if you are crazy like me and you actually enjoy working out or running for more than 75 minutes at a clip or you plan to compete in such insane events as the Badwater Ultra or the Western States Endurance Run, here are a few links to some natural alternatives to Gatorade.  What do they have in common?  They’re concocted from all natural ingredients, many of which you have at home already, and all of which you can buy today at your local grocery store.

Organic Sports Drinks (Kitchen Table Medicine)

Screw Gatorade Part I and Part II (Road Cycler)

Three Recipes for Fast Recovery (Active)

In other recommended reading, fellow blogger Adam Reynolds just published an awesome article about the junk that’s in Red Bull on his blog, The Healthy Boy.  Check it out here.  I don’t drink Red Bull and I’m glad I don’t, especially after reading his post.

Hope these resources help you gain some healthy, natural alternatives to Gatorade or Powerade.  Have a great day!

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Filed under Nutrition

Prevent the Runner’s Side Stitch

Why do runners get side stitches (cramps) sometimes?  I went out for my Tuesday run last night, a normal 8-miler and a moderate pace (7:25) and I began to get a cramp in my right side about a mile into the run.  It was the first time in a long time I remember getting a cramp.  The pain got so intense that, twice, I stopped running to walk for a couple minutes, breathe deeply, and move on.  This helped to alleviate the pain, but the cramp never really went away.

I had a good run despite the nagging pain in my right side, but still couldn’t figure out what the cause was.  After all, I run four days per week and never get these cramps.  Granted, due to a tight schedule yesterday, I had to squeeze in my run at night, which I rarely do.  But I’ve run at night before and have never had a problem.  Was I dehydrated?  Did I eat too much for lunch?  Was I tight?

I decided to explore the possible causes so of course I can prevent something like this from happening again.  After all, this is how we learn, right?

After doing some research, I learned that these cramps, or side stitches, usually occur on the right side of a runner’s body.  This is because our diaphragm connects to our liver on our right side.  Experts aren’t in complete agreement about the exact cause, but the pain on the right side can be from the stretching of the ligaments that connect the diaphragm to the liver.  Runners who exhale when their right foot hits the ground put more stress on these ligaments and are more prone to getting side stitches.  Runners who exhale when their left foot hits the ground are less prone.  Personally, I’ve never paid attention to which foot hits the ground when I’m breathing in or out, and I don’t even know if my breathing and stepping are consistent.  However, since I’ve only gotten these side stitches a couple times in my running life, I’m not sure I buy into this theory.

More likely than the above theory, we probably get side stitches when we either eat too closely before our run or we don’t drink enough before our run.  Looking back at my case last night, I realize now that I had a larger than normal lunch and I was out of my office (normal environment) so I didn’t drink as much water as I normally do.  I’m confident that these two factors led to my cramping.  I usually run first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and after drinking a liter of water, so I’m usually fine.  But the night run really threw me off.

So now you know that you shouldn’t eat within two hours before your workout and you should always be well-hydrated before a run or other exercise.  But what are you to do if you still get a side stitch?

  • Slow down your breathing
  • Focus on breathing deeply
  • Holy your arms over your head to stretch out your torso
  • Slow down to a slow jog or walk, while focusing on your breathing
  • Stop for a couple minutes and focus on your breathing

These steps should rid you of your annoying side stitches and you’ll be able to continue your run.

For the runners out there, do you get side stitches regularly?  If so, what do you do about them?

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Filed under Exercise, Running

Don’t Be Fooled: Gatorade is Garbage

So what’s the real truth about Gatorade?  It’s all over the place.  We’re supposed to drink it during our workouts, our runs, and even for hangovers.  The world’s top athletes are endorsing it and even Tiger Woods has his very own line of Gatorade (okay, that doesn’t mean much anymore).  It’s an amazing concoction of electrolytes that provides hydration and increased performance for all of our athletic pursuits.  It makes us run faster, longer, jump higher, lift more weights, and recovery more quickly.
Or does it?

Is Gatorade really healthy for us?  Is it the true miracle drink that it’s marketed as?  Will it really make us perform better and longer than our non-Gatorade drinking competition?

Instead of giving you the answer, I’ll just present my case and you can decide.

Gatorade was invented at the sports laboratories at the University of Florida in 1965 and tested on the football team, the Florida Gators (hence the name Gatorade).  The original concoction consisted of water, sodium, sugar, potassium, phosphate, and lemon juice.  The football coach and his players hailed Gatorade as a savior to their hydration problems during hot summer workouts and the long, intense football season.

The Florida Gators went on to win the Orange Bowl in 1967 and gave credit to Gatorade as one of the reasons they won.  Thus began the national phenomenon and craze.  “I definitely don’t want to compete without Gatorade.  My competitor may be drinking it and I’ll be at a disadvantage” was the prevailing thought at the time.

I’m not a scientist, but I don’t doubt that this formula worked.  After all, Gatorade was made up of a couple of the most important electrolytes – sodium and potassium (others are calcium, magnesium, and chloride).  These help to replenish hydration levels after massive fluid loss during intense, prolonged exercise.

But, like everything else, someone along the way discovered that Gatorade could be produced less expensively by using artificial sweeteners and corn syrups.  Until this year, Gatorade’s top two ingredients were water and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the evil artificial sweetener that’s in everything these days from soda to bread.  In 2010, Gatorade changed its formula from HFCS to a sucrose-dextrose mix.  Same animal, different name.

So what exactly are we drinking when we pick up a bottle of the nectar?  Let’s look at Gatorade’s ingredients in comparison to the ingredients of Pepsi Cola.

Carbonated Water
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Caramel Color
Phosphoric Acid
Citric Acid
Natural Flavors

Sucrose Syrup
Glucose-Fructose Syrup
Citric Acid
Natural Flavors
Sodium Citrate
Monopotassium Phosphate

Turns out they’re strikingly similar, aren’t they?  True, Gatorade no longer has HFCS, but what do you think those other syrups are?  Yep, you guessed it.  They’re just manufactured corn syrups with different names, all made in the same factories with the same cheap corn used in HFCS.  And after reading the ingredient lists, does this still sound like something you want to suck down during a 10-mile run or an intense gym session?  Gatorade and soda aren’t too dissimilar when you really look at it.  Pump some carbonation into your bottle of Gatorade and it’s soda, isn’t it?

So why the hype?  Why does everyone think Gatorade is still the go-to beverage for increased athletic performance and hydration?

For the same reason we believe nearly everything else.  Marketing.

I’m no conspiracy theorist, but Gatorade is manufactured by Quaker Oats, which is a division of Pepsi Co, who, along with Coca Cola, is one of the most successful marketing juggernauts of the past half century.  Their marketing campaign for Gatorade is genius.  It should be studied in every university marketing class across the country.  It’s strong, it’s omnipresent, it’s compelling, motivating – everything you want in a marketing message.

The new 2010 campaign, G-Series, outlines a 3-part strategy for performance.  Now, according to the marketing message, you’re supposed to drink Gatorade Prime before your workout, Gatorade Perform during your workout, and Gatorade Recover after your workout.  Are you kidding me?  It’s the same junk, just packaged and marketed differently?  You’re drinking non-carbonated soda.

So what’s this all mean?  I’m not telling you that you should never drink Gatorade, but next time you want to prepare yourself for a hard run or workout, think twice about what you’re putting into your body.  It’s nothing but non-carbonated soda with an impressive and frighteningly effective marketing campaign.


Filed under Food, Nutrition, Uncategorized

What The Dynamic Life Can Do For You

(Bing Images)

I still can’t wrap my head around the latest obesity statistics published by the CDC yesterday.  If you missed it, check out yesterday’s post.  If you’ve been a follower of my blog and my tweets, you know that the current obesity problem in America, and to a much smaller extent in some other countries, infuriates me.  It infuriates me, confuses me, and makes me want to get up and scream at these obese people.  But it also motivates me.

I’m motivated to change people.  I want to change the way people think, the way they eat, their relationships with food and exercise.  I want to improve, and help to save, peoples’ lives.  It’s my passion.  And over the past year or so, I’m convinced it is what I was born to do.

If you read any books or blogs about discovering your passion, your calling in life, writers often ask you to answer the question, “What angers you about the world?  What do you wish you could fix?”  Well, I’m not an angry person, but the obesity problem and the overall lack of knowledge of a healthy lifestyle inspires me.

And that’s what this blog is all about – motivating, educating, inspiring my readers to improve their, or their loved ones’, lives in some way by living more dynamic, healthy lives.  If I can help in some small way, I’m happy.

Recently, I’ve formally begun to coach several clients.  Each of them is unique.  They have different careers, different lifestyles, and different priorities.  But they all have something in common – they want to live more healthfully in order to live more dynamically.  I’ve begun to help them, and they have taught me a lot along the way.  The process has been more exciting than I ever imagined.

So, coming up within the next couple of months, I will be sharing lots in information in the form of e-Books, interviews, case studies, and some videos.  As always, if there’s anything specific you want me to cover or answer, drop me a line in the comments or on Twitter.

I look forward to growing the Dynamic Life and sharing the journey with you.

Have a fantastic day!


Filed under General Health