Cover Page

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Why On Target Living?

Peak Performance: Something I have and something you want!

Peak Performance: Learn it and earn it!

Raised by Wolves!

I: Laying the Foundation for Optimal Health and Performance!

Chapter 1: What's Possible in Your Life?

Step 1: Self-Awareness That Change Must Occur

Step 2: What Do You Want?

Step 3: Finding Your WHY

Step 4: One Small Step at a Time

Step 5: Monitoring Your Success

What's Possible in Your Life?

Chapter 2: The Elephant in the Room

Why Are We Moving in an Unhealthy Direction?

Your Time Has Arrived

Chapter 3: Let Food Be Your Medicine

Chapter 4: The World Is Flat?

Chapter 5: Aging Well versus Anti-Aging!

Chapter 6: Cellular Health

Everything Begins at the Cellular Level!

The Cell Membrane

Mitochondria

Nucleus of the Cell

Chapter 7: pH Balance—The Missing Link to Amazing Health

Chapter 8: Laying the Foundation

Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs

Building “Your” Foundation

II: Rest and Rejuvenation

Chapter 9: Life Balance

Chapter 10: Is Stress Melting You Down?

So What Is Stress?

Stress Response: Lions and Tigers and Bears!

Optimal Stress Level

Autonomic Nervous System

Sympathetic Nervous System—The Accelerator!

True Fight or Flight

Parasympathetic Nervous System—The Brake!

Chapter 11: Hormonal Harmony and Your Health

Chapter 12: Building Your Rest and Rejuvenation Toolbox!

Strategy 1: Social Engineering

Strategy 2: Diaphragmatic Breathing and Breath Awareness

Strategy 3: The Power of Sleep

III: EAT

Chapter 13: So What Is Nutrition?

Nutrition 101

Good Digestion

Chapter 14: Read the Label

Ignorance Is Not Bliss!

Less Is Best!

Avoid Trans Fats

Avoid High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Say “No” to GMO

The Dawning of GMOs

If You Can't Read It, Don't Eat It!

What Is the Serving Size?

Supplements—The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Chapter 15: Going Organic

What Does Organic Mean?

Benefits of Going Organic

How Do You Know It's Organic?

How Much Does It Cost?

Chapter 16: What Are We Drinking?

Soda Pop

Coffee

Tea

Milk

Juice

Sports Drinks

Jack-Me-Up Drinks

Alcohol

Water: Your Body's Drink of Choice!

Is There a Difference in Types of Water?

How Much Water Do You Need?

Chapter 17: Macronutrients/Food Target: The Core of On Target Living Nutrition

Chapter 18: Carbohydrates—Fuel Your Body!

Are Carbohydrates Good or Bad?

Fiber

The Carbohydrate Continuum

Carbohydrate Chemistry

The Glycemic Index

Why Do We Crave Carbohydrates?

Insulin Is a Hunger Hormone

Carbohydrates as Mood Regulators

Understanding Your Sweet Tooth

Organic Cane Sugar

How Many Carbohydrates Should You Consume Each Day?

Chapter 19: Proteins—Build Your Body!

What Is Protein?

Complete and Incomplete Proteins

Benefits of Protein

What Kinds of Protein Should You Eat?

The Protein Debate

Eggs

Fish

Poultry

Lean Red Meat

Dairy Products

Plant-Based Proteins

Protein Supplements

How to Use Protein Supplements

Protein/Energy Bars

The Protein Continuum

How Much Protein Is Enough?

Chapter 20: Fats—Heal Your Body!

Medical Research Supporting Healthy Fats

Where Have We Gone Wrong?

Why Is Eating Healthy Fats So Essential for Good Health and Improved Performance?

Categories of Fats

Monounsaturated Fats (Omega-9 Fats)

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids—Essential Fatty Acids

Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids

Benefits of Consuming Omega-3 Fats

Where Do You Find Omega-3 Fats?

Wonderful Fish Oils

How Much Omega-3 Fats Should You Eat?

Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids

Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fats in Balance

Improving the Quality of Fat in Your Diet

Chapter 21: Superfoods—Eat Like a Super Hero!

Cereal Grasses

Cod Liver Oil

Spirulina/Chlorella

Super Seeds (Flaxseeds, Chia Seeds, or Hemp Seeds)

Sea Vegetables

Coconut

Cacao

Berries

Leafy Greens

Nuts and Seeds

Super Whole Foods

Chapter 22: The Art and Science of Dieting

The Science of Dieting

The Art of Dieting

The 80/20 Plan

Go Green 10-Day Detox

Kristen's 21-Day Challenge

On Target Living 13-Week Action Plan

Chapter 23: How to Feed Your Kids: Lessons Learned Living with the “Health Freak”*

Feeding Your Kids 101

Chapter 24: Creating a Healthy Food Environment

Grocery Shopping

Healthy Eating on the Run

Chapter 25: Recipes

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Desserts and Snacks

IV: Move

Chapter 26: Let's Get Moving

Benefits of Daily Movement

Why Don't We Move Daily?

Exercise and Weight Loss

Posture Alignment

The Bionic Woman

Getting Started—How Much Exercise Is Enough?

Dynamic Warm-Up: 2 to 3 Minutes

Foundation Exercises: 5 to 8 Minutes

Cardiovascular Exercise: 5 to 25 Minutes

Strength Training: 5 to 45 Minutes

Planned Recovery

Equipment Needs

Frequently Asked Exercise Questions

Your Exercise Hierarchy of Needs

V: Your Final Journey

Chapter 27: Your Body Is Always Talking to You!

Eyes

Teeth and Gums

Breath

Digestion and Elimination

Energy and Fatigue

Muscle, Tendons, and Ligaments

Bone Health

Resting Heart Rate

Blood Pressure

Sleep

Skin/Hair/Nails

Blood Test

Chapter 28: Know Your Numbers and Improving Your Numbers

Know Your Numbers/Improving Your Numbers

Cholesterol

Triglycerides

Homocysteine

High-Sensitive C-Reactive Protein

Prostate-Specific Antigen Screening (PSA)

Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH-Ultra Sensitive)

25-Hydroxyvitamin D Total

Testosterone

Chapter 29: Why and Why Not?

You Can Do It!

Expect Bumps in the Road

Why?

Why Not?

Enjoy the Journey!

Index

Title Page

Acknowledgments

There are so many people who were instrumental in the development and completion of this book. I'd like to begin by thanking many of my teachers. To Miss Ellis, my sixth-grade teacher, who believed in me. To my college professors, Dr. Louis Junker, Dr. Wayne Van Huss, Dr. William Heusner, and Dr. Kwok Ho. Thank you for sharing your passion and vision and opening my eyes to a life's work in health and fitness.

To my mentor Al Arens, your guidance and support made a huge impact on my life!

To my colleagues Phil Nuernberger, Bena Long, Matthew Cross, Diana Doroftei, and Anna Callori, who I have learned from and been supported by; they inspired me to keep learning and growing.

Thanks to all my wonderful friends and family who have supported me from the beginning.

To all our faithful On Target Living readers, followers, whose letters, phone calls, e-mails, and testimonials motivate and drive me everyday—I thank you!

To our wonderful team at On Target Living, Matt, Dawn, Sherri, Tab, Toni, Regie, and CJ: you are truly changing lives every day!

To brother, sister, and Annette: your love over the years has been a guiding force in my life.

And to my wife, Paula; my daughter, Kristen and her friend Sean, my son, Matt, daughter-in-law, Holly, and my dog, Dolly, for all your love and support.

To my mom and dad—thank you for your guidance, support, and most of all your love!

Introduction

Why On Target Living?

What makes On Target Living different from other health and fitness programs? The answer is Balance! With over 46,000 diet and nutrition books on the market today, and countless exercise DVDs, books, and programs, don't we have enough information to keep us healthy and performing at our best? The answer is yes! But what most people are missing for better health and performance is balance!

The On Target Living philosophy is centered around balance. Helping people understand how quality nutrition, proper rest and rejuvenation, along with regular exercise, keep the mind and body working in harmony. For over 30 years, I have watched people work hard in the gym and get little results. Or follow a strict nutritional program only to abandon ship only after a month or two.

Each year I receive hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from people all over the world who may be struggling with their health, energy, or performance. I try to help them understand that the answer to their high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, or getting a good night's sleep does not come from a prescription pad. That losing weight does not need to be a low calorie diet tied to intense exercise. Or the solution to erectile dysfunction or low testosterone may not be a pill or hormone replacement therapy, but learning how to control stress.

What do performance, productivity, and success mean to you? I believe many people view this as a financial description. If you are successful, you make a lot of money; if you are a top performer, you earn the most income; if you have the most productive sales team, you get the largest commission. What if I told you none of this matters if you don't have your health, or better yet, you can have greater performance, be more productive and have more success in your life, if you take control of your health!

How can being overweight affect your work? How can being on multiple medications affect your relationships? Is your energy not what it used to be? Why are my kids overweight? These are a few questions to think about. Each one is related to performance in some way, shape or form.

I have witnessed the positive change that comes when people adopt a mentally and physically healthy lifestyle. A better understanding of simple nutrition has not only improved their health, but changed their life. An important, though often overlooked, part of lasting success is finding the energy and vitality to complete your goals. Companies are spending a significant amount of money and resources to find solutions that will help their employees overcome the challenges of daily fatigue. The first step to solving these problems is a system of health and energy strategies.

Peak Performance: Something I have and something you want!

As I have evolved throughout my career, I have made some dramatic changes in my teachings, but the one thing that really stands out is how nutrition, rest, and exercise relate to PEAK performance. What I call PEAK performance is not something you compare to others, but your ability to perform, you being your best. Being your best as a parent, spouse, friend, boss, employee, athlete, grandparent, neighbor, or volunteer—all aspects of your life. If you are not feeding your body, resting properly, or exercising enough, you can never reach your full potential. As you read further in this book, think about where you want to go. Is your health and fitness where you want it to be? Are you on a path to greater success in your life? How do you want to be remembered? Let On Target Living help you bring greater health, energy, and vitality into your life!

Peak Performance: Learn it and earn it!

You may be asking yourself what “taking care of your health” has to do with my business or performance.

Traveling the world helping high performers and companies with time, money, and risk is my passion. I engage, educate, and motivate people on the benefits of eating healthy and exercising efficiently, and the reasons why getting proper rest is critical for peak performance. I reach thousands of people each year through my live On Target Living seminars and through this book I am now bringing this information to you! The goal is for you to walk away with the knowledge and practical applications to immediately implement into daily life.

At the end of this book, you will be asking yourself, Why isn't this taught in the top business schools all over the country?

Raised by Wolves!

I usually begin most of my seminars by asking the audience if they were “raised by wolves.” Some people laugh, some nod yes, but many are not sure what I mean when I ask this question. Let me explain: If you drank out of a garden hose, rode a bike without a helmet, or rode in the backseat of a car without a seatbelt and survived, you were most likely “raised by wolves” too!

I want to begin your journey by giving you a little background on the author (that's me!) to help you understand where this guy is coming from. I was born in Lansing, Michigan, on November 22, 1957. I have truly enjoyed living in the Midwest—I like the change of seasons, the Great Lakes, and the pace of life in Michigan, and by connecting the dots in my life; I hope to give you a deeper understanding of the man behind the curtain!

When I ask the audience about being “raised by wolves,” I'm not criticizing my two wonderful parents, but like most baby boomers, it was an era of “freedom”—rode my bike across town, played in the woods all day, and our only rule was to come home when the streetlights came on. I was told not to fight with my brother or sister, no swearing allowed, and I had to be home for Sunday dinner. There may have been a few more rules, but not many. It was a simple time, playing outside from morning till dark, spending summers at Douglas Lake, building tree forts, and playing games. My family loved to play games: Croquet, tennis, golf, ping-pong, cards, board games, if you could bet on it, we were playing it!

As my grandmother and dad used to say, I grew up eating the Food of the Gods. I don't believe we had any whole food in the house except maybe a banana, apple, or orange once in awhile. I grew up eating processed everything: Captain Crunch, Alpha Bits, Golden Grahams, Lucky Charms, Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies, Hostess Snowballs, Snickers, Three Musketeer bars, Heath bars, bologna sandwiches on white bread with Miracle Whip, Stouffer's broccoli with cheese, Beefaroni, McDonald's, Jon's Country Burger, Yankee Cone Shop, A&W Hot Dogs and Root Beer, Famous Recipe Chicken, DeMarco's Pizza, margarine, whole milk, Kool-Aid, Coke, Pepsi, and the list went on. I drank little water, except when playing sports, and the food I ate became a game changer in my life.

For most of my life, from ages 5 to 21, I had major skin rashes, dandruff, and psoriasis. Doctors prescribed topical creams, cortisone, and oral medications to help my skin, but nothing seemed to make a difference. Finally, the doctors told my parents their son just had “sensitive skin.”

During my college years, my “sensitive skin” continued until I enrolled in my junior year economics class with Dr. Louis Junker (a man way ahead of his time). One day, Dr. Junker explained the profitability of processed foods. He stated that there was little profit to be made selling whole foods such as a tomato, but if you took that tomato and turned it into catsup or tomato paste, then the profitability would go through the roof.

He continued his lecture, discussing digestion and drinking cow's milk. This was one of my greatest aha moments (have you ever had one of those moments when everything makes sense?). Dr. Junker was not a big fan of cow's milk. He began by saying that the protein molecule in cow's milk is very difficult for the human body to digest and absorb correctly—remember this was in the late 1970s. He went on to say poor digestion of cow's milk could lead to many problems such as asthma and skin rashes. Skin rashes? I was a poor college student drinking two gallons of cow's milk per week and had terrible skin. My doctors never mentioned anything about what I was eating or drinking and how that could affect my skin. After this discussion in class, I cut back on my consumption of cow's milk (a lot!) and my skin immediately started to improve. It turns out I did not have “sensitive skin”; what I had was a horrible diet. What I was eating and drinking was causing havoc to my skin.

After I graduated from college with a business degree, an economics minor, and better skin, I went to work for Butternut Bread selling white bread and Dolly Madison cakes and cupcakes. This was my first experience working in grocery stores, observing the buying habits of consumers, and learning how the grocery stores get consumers to buy. After one year of sleep deprivation and working more than 70 hours per week, it was time for me to move on from the Butternut Bread gig.

Next on my job list was Frito-Lay where I spent my days selling Doritos, Ruffles, Munchos, and Funyons. This time the hours and pay were much better, and I had options for future growth within the company if I desired. Again I was back in the grocery stores and was amazed at the volume of snack foods people were buying. Some of the larger stores would take over five hours to service (just one store). Each day on my route, I would pack my lunch, extra snacks, water, and find myself talking to co-workers, people in grocery stores, friends and family about fitness, nutrition, and health. After two years at Frito-Lay, my interest continued to grow and so I decided to pursue other career options.

I really did not know what direction to turn. I was thinking about going back to school to study physical therapy, sports medicine, or start a career teaching, and although I had a lot of options, I knew whatever I decided, I wanted more.

After many phone calls and interviews, I finally struck gold when I met with Dr. Kwok Ho at Michigan State University. Dr. Ho was a professor in the School of Education, and he had his doctorate in Exercise Physiology. We had never met before, and it amazed me that he was willing to spend over two hours with a person that was not yet a student. He asked all the right questions: What was driving me? How did I want to help people? Was I looking for a job, career, or a calling? This question was deep: I never once thought of finding work that would turn into my calling. I was just trying to make a living and have some fun along the way.

As we talked, I could feel his passion and his belief that what he did was very important work. When our meeting ended, I stood up and gathered my notes, and he said something I will never forget. He said, “Chris, you are a prevention guy and the world needs you!” The next day, I began the enrollment process as a graduate student at Michigan State University in Exercise Physiology, and in the fall of 1985 I began my journey, or as Dr. Ho would say, my calling.

So when you begin to read and learn more about cod liver oil, chia seeds, sweet potatoes, cacao, macadamia nuts, hemp seeds, flaxseed, wheatgrass, hydration, bone health, hormones, weight loss, pH balance, cellular health, spirulina/chlorella, almond, hemp or coconut milk, diaphragmatic breathing, how to get a good night's sleep, medications, rejuvenation strategies, body alignment, and posture exercises, remember I wasn't raised on this stuff: I was “raised by wolves”!

I hope you enjoy your journey!

Health and Happiness!

—Chris

I

Laying the Foundation for Optimal Health and Performance!

Chapter 1

What's Possible in Your Life?

 

Our life is what our thoughts make it.

—Marcus Aurelius

The question, “What's possible in your life?” can be fascinating and yet a little scary. Have you ever taken the time to dream, step back, and truly contemplate “what is possible in your life”? Is it possible to be medication-free for the rest of your life? Climb the Grand Canyon rim to rim? Ski with your great-grandkids? How about owning your own business? Lose 100 pounds and keep it off for the rest of your life? Have a great night's sleep? Get into the best shape of your life? Have greater stamina in your professional and personal lives? And live life with greater balance?

During some of my experiential events, I have the audience participate in this new way of thinking. I set up two walls: the Wall of Possibilities and the Wall of Doom. I have the audience write on separate sticky notes what they believe is possible, this is the Wall of Possibilities, and also what may be holding them back, Wall of Doom. They start thinking about their possibilities and their fears at the beginning of the event and add to the wall throughout the day.

At first, both walls usually receive an equal number of sticky notes, but as the event goes on, the Wall of Possibilities continues to grow and grow and grow! (See Figure 1.1.) This exercise is fun, thought provoking, and creates lots of powerful energy in the room. I believe most of us need that little nudge to uncover what may be possible, and then the curious questions begin. What wall are you filling up on a daily basis?

Figure 1.1 Wall of Possibilities

“Real responses from people participating in a new way of thinking at my seminars!”

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I believe lifelong learning and growth are key factors for a healthy and happy life.

With growth comes change, and for most people, change only occurs when you let yourself get uncomfortable. If you stay in your comfort zone, seldom will change occur. In over 25 years in the health and fitness industry and more than 17,000 one-on-one personal training sessions, one thing I have learned is how challenging change can be!

Developing new lifestyle habits that are sustainable can be difficult for almost anyone. Too often attempts to change start with New Year's resolutions, goals to lose weight and increase exercise, and you say “this is my year to get healthier and into better shape,” but the next thing you know your good intentions are a thing of the past. For sustainable change to take hold, let's begin with five basic steps.

Step 1: Self-Awareness That Change Must Occur

Nothing will change until you recognize the need for change. Have you ever been on a long car or plane ride and at the end of the trip you can hardly sit still? No matter how many times you readjust your position in the seat, it is just not working; you need to make a change. How many times have you heard about the person who has a heart attack or is put on oxygen and after all this still does not believe it's necessary to quit smoking? Or what about the person with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and acid reflux, is 100 pounds overweight—and continues to eat fast food and drink diet soda? Self-awareness that you must change is step one in your pursuit to being your best!

Step 2: What Do You Want?

What do you truly want? Is it to get off some of your medications or decrease the dosage? Run or walk your first 5K? Play with your great-grandkids? Lose 25 pounds? Run for political office? Do you want to perform like a professional athlete? Have more energy, greater stamina, or life balance? What about greater health? Being your best? Once you have decided what you want, get laser beam specific and write it down!

Step 3: Finding Your WHY

The longer I am in the health and fitness industry, the more I realize the importance of finding your “WHY.” Your “WHY” is your desire, your need; it is your fuel for change to take place. Finding your WHY can occur as a result of a major event in your life, such as the death of a family member, divorce, a poor report from your doctor, some major trigger that gets you to decide now is the time, your moment of truth, that you must change and change now!

Finding your WHY can also be an ongoing process including goals for your future like taking a hiking trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro, skiing with your grandkids, competing in a senior bodybuilding competition, having a small wager with your co-worker to lose a few pounds (and keep it off!), or lowering your blood glucose or blood pressure. Your WHY is something that gets you excited, something or someone to focus on.

As I travel around the world, speaking to thousands of people each year, I continually challenge my audiences to find their WHY. Every time I hear from someone who has made changes I always ask the same questions, “What was your WHY?” and “What steps did you take along the way?” I always get the same answer; they had one major WHY or many smaller WHYs.

A few years ago, I received a phone call from one of my longtime colleagues and good friend, Mike Combes. Mike is the Executive Director of three large health clubs with the Mercy Health System in Cincinnati, Ohio. I had presented my On Target Living seminar there in the past, and I had the privilege to meet Joan Barber, one of their shining stars. Joan is 68 years young, has lost over 150 pounds, and decreased her prescription medications from 16 to 3 all over a three-year time period (WOW)! Joan told me how she came to one of my events, read my book, and received wonderful help from the Mercy Health System team. She told me how she took “baby steps” and kept making small improvements and never gave up. I was thinking the entire time she was telling me her story that her WHY must have been powerful for her to start on this journey at age 65, and it was!

Joan has been married to her husband Clarence for over 40 years, and they are still very much in love. Clarence has two major loves in his life, first for his wife Joan and second for motorcycles, but because of Joan's poor health, Clarence and Joan had stopped riding motorcycles. Listening to Joan, I could feel her love for Clarence. She knew how much he loved riding his motorcycle with his wife at his side. Joan decided it was time to start riding again, and today Clarence and Joan are in a motorcycle club and ride together on a regular basis. Joan's story is a great reminder that your “WHY” must be bigger than your “BUT” in order to make change happen!

Step 4: One Small Step at a Time

We all know making change can be challenging and even extremely difficult at times, especially when making healthier lifestyle changes. Most sustainable change occurs by taking One Step at a Time! This success model works because:

1. The prefrontal cortex of the brain can only handle one step at a time. If you become too busy or stressed, and are trying to do too much all at once, then you can easily fall right back into your old habits.
2. Do you remember the old phone cords that had a soft rubber coating surrounding the phone lines? This same type of protective coating or insulation of every nerve fiber throughout the human body is called the myelin sheath. The myelin sheath is built one strand at a time and is essential for every thought, emotion, and movement throughout the entire body. The thicker the myelin sheath, the faster and stronger the signal, and the stronger and more powerful habits become. (See Figures 1.2 and 1.3.)

Figure 1.2 Myelin Sheath

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Figure 1.3 Healthy and Unhealthy Myelin Sheaths

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How would you teach someone how to ride a bike, play a musical instrument, or do a triple flip off a high dive? People need to be taught by breaking the activity down into small steps, because building the myelin sheath takes repetition and time! If one of your goals is to have better health, then building solid, sustainable habits is all about building your myelin sheath.

Once a habit is built into your myelin sheath, you have that habit for a lifetime and to break this habit you must consciously think about undoing your behavior until a new habit takes hold. This takes time, focus, and energy, and that is why when we become stressed or too busy we go right back to our old comfortable habits (and also why taking small steps, one at a time, is critical for developing new, healthier habits)!

When I began in the personal training business many years ago, I couldn't wait to share with my clients everything that would make them healthy. I educated them about the wonderful benefits of wheatgrass, cod liver oil, flaxseeds, spirulina/chlorella, hydration, body alignment, strength training, progressions, stretching…the list was long. This was a huge mistake on my part because I did not understand that, in most cases, information does not create transformation.

To help others build sustainable habits, I had to think about how to help them begin a journey of habit building.

In Shawn Achor's 2010 book The Happiness Advantage, published by Crown Business, Shawn states that we are “mere bundles of habits.” A habit is an activity we repeat on a regular basis, and we typically don't think twice about the building of our myelin sheath. When brushing your teeth, what side of the mouth do you begin on? Putting on your socks, do you begin with the left or right foot? How many different ways can you get dressed?

Shawn states that building habits is centered on “energy activation,” the amount of energy needed to begin any activity. If you get home from a long day at work and the remote is staring at you, we all know it is extremely easy to sit on the couch and turn on the television, but if you took the batteries out of the remote, and placed them upstairs in a drawer, you probably wouldn't walk upstairs and go through this entire process because of the amount of energy you would have to activate. If your goal is to build a new habit, you need to make the activity as easy as possible and then repeat it over and over. If your goal is to change a poor habit into a healthier habit, then you should make your current habit more difficult to perform.

For example, a question I receive on a regular basis is “how do I break the habit of drinking diet soda?” I ask, “What do you enjoy about drinking diet soda?” People usually say they enjoy the sweetness, the carbonation, and the energy boost. So let's put the diet soda in the basement and replace it with mineral water mixed with a shot of organic pomegranate or cherry juice! The mineral water has the carbonation, and the juice adds sweetness and is very refreshing. Then repeat this behavior over and over until it takes little energy to activate.

A few years ago, prior to speaking at a large dental conference for dentists and dental hygienists, I had an appointment with my dentist. While sitting in the dental chair, I asked my dental hygienist if she could give me the inside scoop about some of her challenges at work. She immediately started talking about prevention and the challenges she had with getting her patients to floss on a regular basis. Something that is so simple, takes little time, and yet only about 10 to 15 percent of her patients add flossing to their regular routines. I then took a big gulp because I was part of that group that did not floss on a regular basis, and we all know you can't lie about flossing to your dental hygienist. So I asked the magic question, “How many days a week should I floss?” She said, “Let's start with flossing two times per week,” and I asked, “Is that enough?” She told me, “You don't floss at all now, so yes, two times per week is a good place to start!”

Following her recommendation, I started flossing, and at first it was something I had to plan. It took energy to floss, but truly very little time, and I knew it was something that would give me great benefits in the future. The day arrived when I was speaking in front of a large group of dentists and dental hygienists, and I opened up with a story about my new flossing experience. After telling my story, feeling proud of my newfound habit, a dentist in the front row said, “Flossing two to three times a week is not enough.” For a few seconds I didn't know what to say, and then I asked him, “How often are you exercising?” The entire room became still, and he responded by saying he was not exercising on a regular basis. I said, “What if you went for a walk twice a week for 10 minutes; do you think this would be a good place to start?” After the presentation he approached me and said I had inspired him to start exercising! Three months later I received an e-mail saying he is now exercising three to four times per week and has also hired a health and fitness coach that he meets with every two weeks. At age 72, he said, he hasn't felt this good in years!

So, start slowly and build your habits, one step at a time! Understand that your journey comes with every change you make along the way. Focus on what you are gaining, not what you are giving up. How can you ask better questions? How can you make the change journey more enjoyable? Your journey does not have to be painful, and it won't be if you take it one step at a time. One step always leads you to another, and it's time to get ready for that next step.

Step 5: Monitoring Your Success

With every successful change and new habit, there is usually some form of monitoring system in place. Feedback is the breakfast of champions, and you need some way to measure your new habits to see if they are working. If your goal is to lose weight, get off some of your medications, run a personal best in a 5K, or have greater energy throughout the day, you need simple tools to measure your progress and success! Whether you are tracking your water intake, nutrition, exercise habits, quality of sleep, belt size, how tight your pants fit, the numbers on your scale, blood work, skin, hair, nails, blood pressure, resting heart rate, or strength, there are hundreds of ways to monitor your success.

While working out the other day, I began talking to a guy who was asking me about the benefits of eating healthy fats. As we talked more, he asked me what I thought of the Weight Watchers program. I told him I thought Weight Watchers was terrific and a great way to help people stay focused. I asked him what he liked about the program, and he said he liked the camaraderie of the members along with the group's ability to keep him focused because he knew he was going to weigh in each week. Regular monitoring is an essential component to keep the momentum going; it helps determine if your plan is working and allows you to have small celebrations along the way. Celebrating even the smallest success is critical for supporting your commitment to change!

The importance of making changes and keeping momentum over time really hit home for me when I was watching an interview from one of the past winners of the television show The Biggest Loser. This gentleman began his journey weighing over 416 pounds when he came to the Biggest Loser Ranch and by the end of the show he weighed 198 pounds—he lost 218 pounds! He won the $250,000 first-place prize money and became an instant celebrity overnight. During an interview they asked him how much he currently weighed, and he said he had no idea. He had not weighed himself in over a year. He knew he had regained a great deal of weight but truly did not know. He guessed he now weighed around 300 pounds, but only 18 months after his first-place finish he stepped on the scale and was shocked that he now weighed over 400 pounds! The look on his face was heartbreaking. How could he fall so quickly?

As the interview went on it was clear that he did not believe he could continue the lifestyle activities he learned at the Biggest Loser Ranch on his own. He said he could not continue the regimen of exercising three to four hours per day along with eating only 1,500 to 1,800 calories per day, so he went back to his old habits. I don't believe any of the trainers from The Biggest Loser recommended exercising three to four hours per day or an eating plan so limited. From this interview, I learned how powerful a person's beliefs may be. It's important to set up realistic goals. Was it possible for him to weigh 198 pounds 24/7? How much exercise is enough? Did he understand that he could never out-exercise a poor diet? What was his WHY? Was he truly taking one step at a time and building sustainable habits? Did he have a monitoring system in place to track his progress and to celebrate his successes along the way? Are your goals sustainable?

What's Possible in Your Life?

Whenever you feel like you are stuck, having a difficult time making the changes necessary for your future growth, keep coming back to this chapter. Making sustainable changes can be hard work and difficult for almost everyone. Climbing that mountain begins by taking that first step!


The Bottom Line
1. What is possible in your life can be a fascinating yet scary question to ask yourself.
2. Making lifestyle changes can be difficult for almost everyone.
3. It takes five steps for sustainable change to take hold. Your On Target Living Journey begins with self-awareness, focus, finding your WHY, one step at a time, and monitoring your success!

Chapter 2

The Elephant in the Room

 

Prevention is so much better than healing.

—Thomas Adams

One of my great friends and colleagues, Phil Nuernberger, PhD, a leading expert on stress and how we use our mind, wrote a newsletter article titled “Getting Rid of the Elephant.” He explained that the term health care is being discussed everyday by our politicians, our businesses, and our society at large. Health care costs are rising at an alarming rate, and as he argued, we cannot fix the problem by simply making our health care system more efficient. The cost of treating disease is the “elephant in the room” that must be discussed. Imagine if everyone looked at health care from a new perspective? I personally look at health care as a security blanket, it is there if I need it, but I rarely use it. Having more healthy people should be our goal, not more health care options!

With all that we have learned and all the resources at our disposal, it's sad to say this is true and only getting worse. Obesity levels are growing extremely fast here in the United States while obesity continues to grow into a major global problem; it even has a new name—Globesity! In 1973 we did not have an obesity problem in the United States; in fact, less than 10 percent of the population was obese. Today, obesity levels have grown to over 30 percent of the population nationwide, and one of the worst statistics of all shows that this obesity rate is still climbing and will continue to climb in years to come. By the year 2020 experts are predicting our entire nation will have more than 35 to 40 percent obesity, and by 2030, we will be looking at 45 percent obesity levels in the United States!

You don't have to be a math magician to figure out we just can't afford to keep going down this road of self-destruction. What about genetics, have our genetics changed? What role has genetics played in America's increasing levels of obesity? One point I want to make crystal clear is that our genetic footprint has not changed over the past 40 to 50 years. In 1970, roughly 500,000 Americans were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and today we have more than 26 million, along with over 50 million prediabetics waiting in the wings! Our kids don't have a chance if we keep going down this unhealthy path.

Why Are We Moving in an Unhealthy Direction?

In almost every one of my seminars I talk about why we are moving in the wrong direction when it comes to our health. Even with greater advances in medicine, more highly trained health professionals, more medical procedures to choose from medications to choose from, and an overwhelming amount of information on the benefits of proper rest, nutrition, and exercise to keep our bodies healthy, we are doing a lousy job when it comes to managing our health!

It is estimated that more than 175 million Americans now live with at least one chronic disease or disability. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic illness accounts for more than 80 percent of all money spent on health care in the United States. Obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer's, MS, heart disease, and cancer continue to rise! More than 25 percent of women over the age of 50 have thyroid problems, and poor bone health is a common concern among women. Acid reflux, gluten intolerance, and irritable bowel syndrome are everyday problems for many adults, and over one-third of our children are overweight or obese! It is not a pretty picture and we all need to get into the game! So why are we moving in the wrong direction?

Poor-Quality Food and Beverages

The food environment in which we live has changed dramatically over the past 40 to 50 years. In the mid-1970s we consumed approximately 2,800 calories per person, per day, in the United States. Today we are consuming over 4,100 calories per person. As you can probably guess, we are not consuming more whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, high-quality proteins, and healthy fats. Unfortunately, we are producing (and consuming) unhealthier, refined, nutrient-deficient Junk Food!

Everywhere we turn we are faced with large quantities of cheap, low-quality food and beverages—in airports, vending machines, fast food restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, and schools. This is not just a problem in the United States, but also a global problem as more and more countries adopt our convenient, processed food and beverage mentality. Last year, I traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico, to work with a large cookware company. I was shocked as I was driving through their beautiful city to see all the fast food restaurants; I felt as though I could have been driving through any large city in the United States. It is no accident that Mexico is now ranked number two, second only to the United States, in the world's leading nations of type 2 diabetics. Sadly, it was less than 10 years ago that Mexico was not even on the radar screen for type 2 diabetes!

We have grown into convenience-food consumers across the globe. In most cases, convenience translates into highly processed, poor-quality food and beverages. As our lives speed up, so does the demand for convenience, fast, available food (actually, I'm not always sure this is truly food). Food and beverage companies are continuing to expand their lines of cheap, low-quality food and beverages. How many energy drinks were on the market 10 years ago? Today there are over 100!

Working multiple grocery stores for over eight years, I learned that almost all grocery stores are set up with the main items people are coming to buy—whole foods like fruits, vegetables, meat—surrounding the entire perimeter of the store. These food items are strategically placed to get you to walk around the entire store. Then, down the center aisles, the big profits lay waiting! Next time you are going down the center aisles of the grocery store, look at the food and beverages offered at the beginning of each aisle. All the best sellers are placed to get you to walk down the aisle, but as consumers become more educated and experience the amazing benefits of eating higher-quality foods and beverages, the demand for better options in the center aisles will increase.

Lack of Movement

The human body is meant to move daily and the benefits are truly amazing, but most people choose not to make time to move their bodies on a daily basis. Less than 25 percent of American adults exercise regularly, and the time we spend being physically active continues to decline. Our kids seldom walk to school or just play outside. They sit in the classroom and then sit behind the computer, video games, television, and cell phones. Physical education classes have been cut from many school systems, and yet if you could put exercise in a bottle it would be the most prescribed medication on the planet! We need to change this, not only for ourselves, but also for the well-being of generations to come.

Poor Information

Many different approaches to nutrition, physical activity, rest and rejuvenation are advocated through popular culture, the media, books, magazines, Internet, friends, and family. This overwhelming environment of information overload leave the consumer in a state of flux and confusion, and even when we want to live healthier lives through better nutrition, exercise, and rest and rejuvenation, it can be extremely difficult to know what path to follow. At times I get confused with all of the mixed messages, and I have been in this business for over 25 years!

Dieting Mentality

When I began working with my publisher, John Wiley & Sons, one of our first conversations was about what this book was to become. I told them I wanted to write a book on performance—being the best you can be! They strongly agreed and also pointed out that they were not interested in having me write a book about dieting, due to the large volume of diet books already on the market—to the tune of 46,000! Over the past 40 to 50 years, hundreds of fad diets and trendy ways to eat, rest, and move, have bombarded Americans and others around the world. New books, magazines, supplements, celebrity testimonials, reality television shows, Internet sensations, and infomercials all bring the promise of instant weight loss and greater fitness. With each empty promise, it's easy to see why many of us will try any new diet that comes along if the marketing claims are powerful enough.

Your Time Has Arrived

Okay, enough of the gloom and doom. I had to tee it up to help you understand it is “Go Time” for all of us. We are at the tipping point and change needs to happen now! One of my strongest beliefs is how truly amazing the human body is in its ability to heal itself. If you cut your hand it will start to heal itself in just a few days. If you struggle with your weight, have low energy, poor health, or would just like to feel better and be your best, help has arrived! I have seen tremendous life changes in many people in my more than two decades of work in the health and fitness industry, and I would like to help you as well.

A few years ago, Sally Bonta contacted me about doing some one-on-one health and fitness coaching. She had recently moved back to Michigan from California and her sister had referred her to me. In our first meeting, Sally and I went over her health history, her current situation, and, most importantly, her future. At age 57, Sally was on 24 medications—yes, 24! Sally had little energy, her heart was empty, and her eyes were dull. We talked for over an hour, and I truly believed Sally wanted a better life. I explained to her how we would tackle her needs one step at a time and slowly build a solid foundation for better health. Step by step, Sally started making amazing progress and three years later, at age 60, Sally went from 24 medications to just 3! Sally is a new person, with lots of “juice,” and every time I run into her at the health club she makes me smile. Sally has not only improved her fitness and health, but more importantly her mind-set that prevention is her only option and she must be the driver in her journey toward greater well-being!

As a society we all need to start focusing on prevention! Prevention is our only way out and we all need to come together and fight back. Start slowly and help everyone you know take one step towards a healthier lifestyle.


The Bottom Line
1. We are facing a serious health crisis, not only in the United States, but also around the world.
2. Over 175 million Americans now live with at least one chronic disease or disability.
3. Obesity has risen to over 30 percent in the United States and continues to grow worldwide.
4. We are moving in a very unhealthy direction due to our toxic food environment, lack of movement, poor information, and dieting mentality.
5. The good news is that the human body is truly amazing in its ability to heal itself if given the right ingredients!

Chapter 3

Let Food Be Your Medicine