Grow Health

This Was My Week: April 25, 2015

I have a lot on my plate and can often get frustrated (with myself) when I don't get everything completed that I have on my informal to-do list.

This past week I came down with a nasty cold, probably due to a combination of pushing myself REALLY hard to launch my dream project, the stress and excitement that comes from actually embarking on a complex vision that I've dreamed of, planned for and slowly begun to create while simultaneously finishing up the semester and properly performing my official “day job” responsibilities.

As I was typing the detailed stuff below, I decided to embark on a self-feedback program is to demonstrate (to myself) that I get a LOT done each day, even when something like an unscheduled (and very rare, for me) illness tries to block my past.

I was originally going to do this post to document the progress I've been making on the Birmingham Shines component of my Shinecast project. But due to a combination of reasons, I decided to publish it here first and then use an edited version for the Birmingham Shines project status posts on my Teach Social Business site.

At some point, I'll use the details about what I'm doing to launch the Shinecast to create an ebook or webinar or something. So the more documentation I have, the easier it will be to create something of value to help others launch a project or pursue a dream. In the meantime, this level of documentation will serve as a reminder to myself that I'm working hard to make my vision a full-fledged reality.

Here's a very detailed summation of the past 5 days….

The cold that was developing on Sunday turned nasty by Tuesday, April 21. As a result the past 4 days have not gone exactly as I’d scheduled or hoped. But I managed to get the most urgent tasks completed, while also teaching my classes and handling some other work-related tasks.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mondays are always my busiest day on campus so most of Monday was dedicated to my job duties.

Despite long workdays on Mondays & Wednesdays, I like to get up earlier than necessary to have time to journal or read while I’m having my coffee.

Thanks to the cold, I didn’t sleep well anyway, so Monday began around 4:00 a.m. with coffee and writing the post on Legal Matters where I documented the Sunday tasks for Birmingham Shines.

I also reviewed my existing Soundcloud account, which has currently has the user name shinecastus. Trying to decide if I should create separate Soundcloud accounts for each show or have one Shinecast network channel. The podcast aspect of my shows may determine the answer to that.

I also quickly reviewed the overview of a couple of premium social sharing plugins that I’m interested in evaluating further after Sunday’s research. (It’s easy to get distracted when you leave the webpage open in a tab in your browser, so, note to self ….)

I also checked the proposals for the two jobs I’d posted to elance on Sunday.

After that morning flurry, most of the rest of Monday was dedicated to my job, personal tasks and helping my nephew who's exploring a career in sports journalism.

At mid-morning on Monday, I sent an email to a local business requesting an interview for the Birmingham Shines show and tinkered with the schedule availability for the next two weeks.

At 11:45 a.m. I left campus to meet my nephew, Davis, who was driving to Birmingham to attend the afternoon portion of the annual meeting of the Alabama Sports Editors Association at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. I'd alerted him to this as a way he might learn more about sports journalism. Davis was running a bit late, so he didn't arrive until about 12:15 p.m. We had lunch at the Southern Kitchen in Uptown (he picked) and talked about the afternoon events. At 1:30 p.m., Davis went in to the ASEA event and I drove back to campus to work.

I was feeling so crappy by late afternoon that I bought a Red Bull before my law class at 3:30 p.m.

When class ended at 4:35 p.m., I packed up, left campus and drove home to meet Benjamin Zamora, who was going to do some tree and shrub trimming work for me. Davis called me just before 5 and we talked for almost an hour, while I heated up bone broth and waved to Benjamin who had arrived around 5:15 p.m. to start his work.

Eventually, Davis seemed to be finishing this questions and thoughts about the day, so I told him I needed to sign off the phone to talk to Benjamin.

Benjamin finished his work just before 7 and I paid him.

Dinner consisted of leftover roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potato chunks. I was too tired and sick to make anything else.

I went to bed early— lights out at 8:40 p.m. and sound asleep.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Thanks to the combination of illness, massive to-do list and going to bed early, I woke Tuesday morning at 2 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep. I finally got up again, around 3:45 a.m., made coffee and got to work.

My first interview was scheduled for Tuesday evening at 5 p.m., so that was on my mind. Even though I’ve done numerous interviews and audio recordings with my home set-up (for the Shine Springs Farm Shinecast and other a/v projects), I hadn’t yet set up the equipment so I had that to do, as well as all the work necessary to get the elance jobs underway.

The main task for the morning was to write copy for several audio tags for Birmingham Shines. I’d asked a student who wants to work in radio and TV if he’d like to record them for me and he indicated interest and said he could stop by between my classes today.

I ended my Tuesday morning journaling session with jotting down these two “first concepts” (to give this task to my subconcious brain to work on as I did other things):

  • Birmingham Shines: A show for people who make, create and innovate.
  • Birmingham Shines: A show about the 21st century Magic City.

An hour or so later I created a document in Google drive and typed out several variations. Later in the day, I edited those and added a few more. I ended up with about 10 or 12 audio tags when I closed the file Tuesday night, just before 10 p.m.

I have an 8 a.m. class on Tuesdays/Thursdays, so I had to focus on getting dressed and getting to work

By the time my first class (a print production lab type of class) ended at 10 a.m. I was feeling horrible. I did some administrative work and arranged with the departmental assistant to give my law exam at 1 p.m. On my way home, I stopped by Whole Foods and bought a rotisserie chicken and big box of salad items for Tuesdays food. I didn’t have anything prepared at home and didn’t feel like cooking.

My first order of business when I got home at 11:45 was to lie down and rest for an hour to get rejuvenated before the 5 p.m. interview.

At some point on Tuesday, I sent out messages to my then semi-finalists on elance and updated them on the job awarding process. I had planned to award Tuesday night but it was clear that I wasn’t going to feel like making a choice. A significant reason for my uncertainty stemmed from a proposal I received from a Birmingham-based audio engineer.

I really wanted to work with someone local but his proposal was the highest of all and notably higher than many of the middle-range of proposals. I’d sent him an elance message about this, gave him more details about the show and my bootstrapping budget and offered him the opportunity to revise his proposal.

On Tuesday afternoon between 1:30 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. I focused on getting my home office recording studio set up again and took care of emails related to work and other odds-and-ends.

Wade arrived at 5 p.m.

I started the session by taking several photos to use with the show notes and promotion. We then moved into the “studio” to start the interview.

I’ll write a separate post about the actual interview and some things I wish I’d done differently and what I learned from the first interview session.

We finished up around 7, give or take a few minutes. After the actual interview ended, we had a nice chat about various topics, so the actual interview aspect of our session ran about an hour, including pauses.

After the interview, I was tempted to crash for the evening, but knew that wasn’t really practical. I had a long day ahead on Wednesday and also needed to be ready to award the editing job on Wednesday and upload the files, per my elance job description.

I had a few bites of chicken and the rest of the salad I’d bought earlier at Whole Foods and turned my attention to transferring and labeling the audio .wav files.

Once I moved the files from the Zoom SD card to my external drive, I listened to each one and labeled them in order.

I created a Google doc for a show script and listed the segments, in order, for Wade’s full interview.

Eventually, I will edit the interviews into shorter segments and assemble into story packages, but I’m starting out with publishing most of the interviews in their entirety as a single episode.

I recorded a simple conclusion to the show and added that to the episode folder and show script.

I also added the intro and outro music files I’d purchased through Music Bakery and Premium Beat and added those items to the script.

I made an effort to record the show intro and make it snazzy but I just wasn’t feeling it at all by that point. It was well after 8 p.m. and I was feeling the worst I’d felt all week. I finally threw in a perfunctory intro that was passable, added that to the file and script and uploaded everything to a Dropbox folder before going to bed.

By 9 p.m. I was clearly feverish as I was having chills, shaking, etc. Went to bed and to sleep, but woke up hourly for water, bathroom, etc. I had a fever and was shaking massively when I would get up. I didn’t have any aspirin or ibuprofen in my house, so my only recourse was to tough it out.

Wednesday, April 23, 2015

Some time around 2 a.m. I felt the fever begin to subside and I was able to sleep, fitfully, until I woke up at 7. I emailed the departmental assistant to say I would not be in for the 8:30 production lab but to tell the students to work on their magazine spread assignment and that I planned to be on campus after lunch.

With that, I made coffee and breakfast and reopened the bidding on elance to share a sample audio file from the interview and the proposed script, in case anyone wanted to revise their proposal. I messaged the Birmingham engineer specifically since he had sent a message letting me know he couldn’t revise his proposal since I’d closed the job early. [Update: I think I actually re-opened the bidding before going to bed Tuesday night, but with the fever some of the final details of Tuesday night are a bit fuzzy] 

I was starting to feel some congestion in my sinuses—nothing major, but until that point my discomfort had been throat, ears and chest, not sinuses. Just in case, I heated some water in a cup and added salt to do a sinus irrigation using a technique I developed during my first in Oklahoma when I would occasionally start to feel allergies developing. No neti pot required.

At that point, I hadn’t received a confirmation from my student voice-over prospect that he would do the work for the offered compensation and terms so I wasn’t sure if I would receive those files on Wednesday morning, as requested.

I created a new private job on elance for voiceover recording of the audio tags. I had revised and edited my list down to 7 variations and included a PDF of the tags in the private job. I invited about 6 or 8 voiceover specialists to bid on the job, with a same-day turnaround. Once I published the job, I got in the shower, hoping to feel better.

About an hour later, I had 3-4 proposals, accepted the one who was local and funded the escrow. I also messaged the two others I was most interested in and said I would have more work via separate jobs.

The pro had the job finished and files shared within an our of when I funded the escrow. He did a perfect job — just the feel I was looking for.

Just before noon, I discovered I had an email from the student sharing the Dropbox folder with his versions of the audio tags. I listed to those and tagged the good ones. Not bad. I’ll use a couple of them, occasionally, but not as my primary tags.

At 1 p.m. I had a meeting scheduled with Greg Wingo of TechBirmingham to talk about my Shinecast media channel, the Birmingham Shines show and whether TechBirmingham membership would be useful for me. We had a great meeting, despite my being under the weather. I was feeling somewhat better, especially compared to Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.

I got to campus about 2:15 p.m. and got everything ready for my 3:30 p.m. section of media law. Took care of some more work-related tasks. In particular, I’m the adviser to a campus literary journal and we’re in the midst of getting that printed. Thankful that a student had cough drops to rescue me from a coughing fit that kicked in about 10 minutes into class.

I had called the Irondale post office just after I got to work at 2:15 to check on the delivery of 2 packages of honeybees. The postal worker said they had arrived and he had them and I could pick them up that afternoon. Fortunately, it would be possible to pick them up after 5, if I didn’t make before the official 5 p.m. closing.

On top of all that, Alabama Power was in the neighborhood trimming trees and I was texting back and forth with my very nice neighbor who had opened the gate for them and was keeping an eye on my very skittish cat hiding under the deck. I didn’t know they were coming Wednesday afternoon since they weren’t in the neighborhood when I left my house at 12:45-ish and I’d left the cat on the back patio in her chair. She doesn’t climb fences, so she’s OK to be back there when I’m not home.

After class ended at 4:35, I quickly packed up my stuff and headed out for the Irondale Post Office. Neighbor had left a voice mail letting me know Bumble was safe, the gate was locked, etc. so I called her back to say thanks.

Arrived at the post office at 4:58 p.m. in time to get my bees without having to go through ringing the bell. From there, I went home and unloaded the bees onto the back porch for the time being and let Bumble in. She was at the back door when I got home.

Despite feeling very tired and still sick at that point, I drove to Publix to pick up a few items I really needed. But forgot to get the plastic spray bottle I needed to spray bees with sugar syrup, so around 6:45 I drove to Dollar General for the spray bottle and remembered to buy some cough drops, too.

When I got home from those errands I made up the sugar syrup mixture and washed out the spray bottle. I discovered ants were starting to get on the packages of bees so brushed off the ants as best I could and I moved them to the top of my washing machine in the laundry room, which has a door that opens to the outside. In light of the ants, I decided to wait to spray the bees until morning. That concerned me because I wasn’t sure how much syrup they had left, but the bees had looked great at 5 when I picked them up at the post office and decided waiting to minimize ant exposure might be wiser than spraying and then having the bees confronted with ants.

Before going to bed, I made a list of the top editing proposals. My Birmingham audio engineer had revised his proposal somewhat. It was now the second highest bid. As I reviewed the project samples from many of the experienced editors, I was tempted to go with some of the mid-range proposals by regular podcast editors. But I am also committed to supporting local businesses as much as possible.

After an hour of reviewing the proposals, my gut said just go with Birmingham for this job and see what happens. Perhaps he will be able to offer a lower bid for future projects, after evaluating the time involved on these two episodes. I awarded the job to him, sent messages to several of the finalists about more work on this and other shows and that I would be inviting them to bid on those jobs. In funding the escrow, I had messaged my editor that I would not be able to deliver the preview episode audio files when I’d indicated in the job description, due to my illness and the honeybee situation and that I would extend the job deadline by a couple of days, but I didn’t change the terms officially.

I also emailed the guest who’d scheduled an interview for Thursday afternoon and asked about rescheduling due to my cold and the day-early arrival of my honeybee packages (I had expected them to come on Thursday, not Wednesday, based on shipping information). This guest had previously alerted me that she might also have a last-minute need to change the interview date, so I didn’t feel quite so bad about asking to reschedule at that late point.

Before I went to bed, I had a confirmation back from that guest saying it was probably best to reschedule. That helped me sleep a bit better, although I was still sick, still stuffy and still exhausted from the relentless schedule on top of the cold.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

I slept as late as possible—6:30 a.m. Although I didn’t sleep particularly well, it was certainly better than the previous 3 nights.

Checked on the honeybees. No sign of ants, so I sprayed them with the sugar syrup. In the dark room, they were still “dormant” so I was a bit concerned about whether they were as healthy that morning as they had been the night before. They woke up as I sprayed, so I decided not to worry. Nothing I could do beyond spraying them occasionally and getting them hived that evening.

Got dressed and drove to campus. I took my “breakfast” with me: Protein shake and a bowl of oatmeal I’d cooked.

After class, I found that my escrow had been refunded. That concerned me, but I found that the audio engineer had simply formally changed the delivery date to Monday, which I was OK with, under the circumstances.

I accepted the change of terms, funded the escrow again, and turned my attention back to work. Took care of some administrative things, grabbed a quick meal in the campus Caf, graded a set of law exams, reviewed my notes for class and taught media law at 1 p.m.

Left campus as soon after class as I could get away after class. Around 2:15 or 2:20 p.m.

Drove home and, between 2:45-ish and 3:15 p.m., loaded my car with the bees and a few other items of bee equipment and hit the road.

Got to the farm around 5:25 p.m. and immediately set out to hive the bees. It took about 40 minutes to get everything in position to hive the first package.

Then, once I started the hiving process it took “forever” to get the staples out to open the wooden package and remove the syrup can.

I’ve only ever hived package bees once before (in 2014, when I wasn’t under quite the time crunch) so I was a bit clumsy in dealing with the queen cage, once I got the syrup can out of the way.

I didn’t want to squish the bees surrounding the queen, so I ended up placing the queen cage on a foundationless frame and just leaving it there.

I didn’t try to remove the candy plug because it was late and I had the other package to work with. I decided to come back in the morning to check on the queen cage.

It also seemed to take “forever” to shake out most of the bees from that package!

Not really forever, of course, but it did take about 40 minutes to get the first hive situated before I could start on package #2.

At this point, tt was getting dark and I needed to get my other package in its hive. Fortunately, the hiving process for the second package was a bit easier.

I started it around 6:30 and was finished in 20 minutes, just before full dark. I also left the queen cage unchecked and just saved that task for Friday morning.

Went inside and had dinner with my parents—leftover beef liver, some squash casserole with quinoa I’d made last summer that mom found in the freezer, some mashed potatoes.

At that point, I was feeling tired and sick, so I went to bed at 8:45 p.m. and slept pretty well until 3 a.m.

Friday, April 24, 2015

I woke up at 3 a.m. and immediately started coughing. Water didn’t help. Cough drops didn’t help, finally got up 4:45 a.m. and made coffee. I thought the warmth might help. It didn't.

Tried some honey.

Nothing was helping the coughing.

After I journaled for an hour or so documenting all of the week’s activity (that journaling is largely the basis for this blog post), I decided to lie down again and try reading. I was still coughing like crazy.

I had breakfast around 8 a.m., including a farm egg from my cousin, Dana, even though I'm supposed to be avoiding eggs for the time being. I was too hungry and needed nutrition and protein and it's been a while since I've had eggs.

After breakfast, I showered hoping that would help my coughing and chest congestion. It did, to some extent.

I got dressed and turned my attention back to taking care of honeybees.

Between 9:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. I took care of the new packages (they were doing great), put some syrup in the two nucs I’d purchased in March and checked on two of my other three hives.

One of the nucs was well into their second medium hive body (brood box) so I added a third medium, to keep them from feeling too crowded.

I also fed the remaining hive of Missouri bees, since they didn’t seem to have as many bees as I would have expected, despite almost losing them in the winter.

I had a lunch of leftovers—same as supper the night before—and said goodbye to my parents, dogs and Dali. Hit the road at 1:30 p.m., with a stop in Cullman where there’s a branch of ACU (my bank). Got back to Birmingham around 3:30.

I didn’t seem to be coughing much when I was outside working with the bees, but I coughed my head off on the drive back to Birmingham, despite trying four menthol cough drops and lots of water.

After getting things unloaded at my house and taking care of the cats and replying to a elance message from the audio editor,  I drove to Dollar General and bought some vapor-rub chest salve, made a soup concoction of mushrooms, garlic, onions, and chicken broth. Took care of various household chores, from washing dishes to washing a Polartec blanket that Friend had slept on.

Went to bed at 8:30 p.m. Friday night. The chest salve helped with the coughing, better than anything so far. I was able to sleep well overnight so I feel much better this morning (Saturday) when I’m typing this post.

Now, it’s time to get to work on Birmingham Shines!

Health Promotions

The Hashimoto’s Institute

Do you have issues with your thyroid? Learn more at this week's online Hashimoto's Institute, featuring leading experts like Izabella Wentz, Pharm D., author of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause.

Yesterday I revealed that (much to my surprise) I was diagnosed as having hypothyroidism when my test results came back with a TSH of over 14. Earlier this year, another physician ordered more tests and the results came back with high levels of both types of thyroid antibodies. Diagnosis: Hashimoto's.

Since I'm not the type of person who gets sick or takes medications, I'm on a quest to cure this autoimmune condition through even better eating and lifestyle habits.

If you know me, I'm already a real food fanatic and have been for pretty much all of my life. I gave up fast food in 2003. So to send the Hashimoto's away, I've had to step up my game and learn even more about what I'm eating and how it affects my body.

One way I'm doing that is through sessions like this week's Hashimoto's Institute. Learn more about how to access these sessions free for this week or buy the package for future reference.

If you want to follow my quest, sign-up for my email newsletter. The newsletter will be about a lot more than just thyroid issues or Hashimoto's, but I'll include snippets of details about how I'm changing my eating habits to strengthen my thyroid and, perhaps more importantly, stop my body from attacking my thyroid.

Events Health Promotions

Hashimoto’s Diagnosis

Here's something I've never said publicly. And I'd never intended to talk about it publicly, but I keep seeing so many others dealing with similar problems that I feel like I can offer something new to this conversation.

Nine year ago I was diagnosed with a thyroid problem. It was several months after I'd finished and successfully defended my Ph.D. dissertation. And despite efforts to rest and recover from that experience, I was extraordinarily tired. I mean extraordinarily tired.

I'd gone from being able to easily run several miles to getting tired just walking up the 2 flights of stairs to my third floor office. I knew something was out of whack.

I mentioned it to a physician who said “let's test your thyroid.” I said OK. A few days later, I received a call that my TSH levels were high–around 14, when 5 was the maximum threshold for what was considered in traditional medicine as normal.

Since then, I've taken thyroid medication for what was, eventually described to me by an endocrinologist as Hashimoto's. But this doctor didn't actually test for Hashimoto's antibodies. At least I don't think he did. In any event, I was told that thyroid problems can't be cured and that I was doing the right thing by eating real food and running. Since the Levoxyl was keeping everything in check, I was told I had need to be concerned. Just keep doing what I was doing.

So while my energy returned and I felt fine, I wasn't satisfied to just take “live with it” for the final answer.

I don't like taking any type of medication, even something as relatively benign as thyroid medication. So I've always been convinced that my body can repair itself, given the right inputs and proper care.

Over the past year or so, I've begun to study autoimmune diseases and the connection between food and autoimmune conditions. And I uncovered lots of emerging research on the relationship between various foods and autoimmune issues, especially thyroid.

Early this year, I set out to find a way to reverse my thyroid condition and repair my thyroid.

As it happened, my regular general practitioner, the one who'd been seeing me each year for thyroid monitoring, closed his practice to join a concierge medicine group. That meant I needed to find a new general physician. So I found a medical practice that specializes in integrated health and functional medicine.

As we explored my thyroid situation, I told the nurse practitioner that I wanted to cure it. She asked if I'd been tested for Hashimoto's. I said, “not that I know of.” So I went through a full battery of thyroid tests.

Turns out I do have Hashimoto's. I'll save the details for another post.

My regular podcast listening led me to the Underground Wellness show where I learned about this week's free Hashimoto's Institute.

If you want to join in, click the image below and sign up for access to free webinars and online sessions all this week.

If you want to follow my journey as I document my quest to repair my thyroid, sign up for the Shinecast newsletter by leaving your email address in the form below the image.

Health Inspire

What Is Health?

Health is one the three pillars of a life well-lived.

Health is more than the absence of serious disease. Health goes beyond the physical capacity to perform certain activities. Although physical capacity is an important signifier of health, it is not enough

We are healthy when we are performing at our optimal physical, mental and emotional capability.

Health is about about wellness, well-being and the body’s ability to repair itself, to fight off germs and overcome or prevent cell mutations.

It breaks my heart to see so many people, young and old, battling chronic conditions that are largely the result of lifestyle and diet choices.

I’m not arguing that every health problem is the result of diet or lifestyle or environmental triggers. But the vast majority of sickness and chronic conditions are lifestyle and diet-related, exacerbated or hastened by the environmental toxins and chemicals that surround us.

Real Food

I’ve written elsewhere about my choice to give up fast food on August 1, 2003. And I’ve written elsewhere about how fortunate I was to grow up with parents who preferred to cook and eat real food at home. I’ve also been relatively active for most of my life, despite having a desk job for most of my life and a largely sedentary work environment, at least 9 months of each year.

The lessons I’ve learned from what might be called my healthy-lifestyle experiment is this: It is possible to arrive at mid-life without experiencing high blood pressure, diabetes, joint pain, chronic inflammation, high levels of bad cholesterol and similar conditions. I don’t have any of those problems and I am truly blessed in that regard. But I don’t attribute the absence of those conditions to mere chance or genetics.

I truly believe that my health today is the direct result of my diet, physical activity and commitment to get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night. My diet is one that emphasizes real food with an emphasis on legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts, olive oil and reasonable quantities of good dairy products. Meats and poultry are the exception rather than the main dish.

I’ve never been a purist about diet, with the exception of my commitment to no fast food for the past 10 years and my lifelong avoidance of most manufactured “candy favors” or those things like Swizzles and gummy bears (which I’ve never tasted). I see nothing wrong with eating a quality dessert or home-baked goodies, if I feel like it.

The point is that it’s not necessary to become a rabbit, a vegan or a paleo-something to have a health diet. All that’s required is a commitment to eating a varied diet comprised of real foods, minimally processed.

Physical Activity

Similarly, physical activity doesn’t require running marathons. It doesn’t even require running. But aerobic exercise is important. Walking at a fast pace for at least 30 minutes each day will suffice for heart health. More aerobic exercise is probably needed for weight management, at least for some people, but the right food in the right quantities combined with reasonable walking each day will eventually get you to a healthy weight.

Stretching is also important, whether it’s slow stretching in your living room or yoga in a group.

And weight training can be a big help, especially for women over 30. We start to lose physical strength if we don’t do some resistance or weight training.


Sleep is the third element of good health. Sleep might be the key to health. Actually, sleep probably is the most important of the three pillars of health.

Without adequate sleep, quantity and quality, we have a much harder time controlling our appetites. When we’re tired we’re more likely reach for a sugary, fatty snack. Lots of research supports this. I’m writing this in a place without good internet access, so I can’t provide links to the research immediately, but I’ll come back to this topic and share that research later.

It’s also a lot harder to muster the willpower to go for a walk or a run or other workout when we’re tired. And, in my experience, I can handle stress a lot better when I’m well-rested. If I have a poor night’s sleep or don’t get enough sleep due to travel schedule or something similar, I find that little annoyances will be more annoying and bigger stressors will bother me much more.

Over the coming months I hope to inspire you to join me on the path to health, wealth and wisdom by providing a guide to achieving optimum health. I’ll be sharing my own experiences, as well as the advice of health and wellness experts who can provide evidence-based insights about the importance of food choices, physical activity and sleep in overall well-being and disease prevention.

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Starting in mid-December I’ll be sending out a weekly compilation of my blog posts, along with bonus information related to health, food, nutrition and lifestyle. It’s all designed to help you along your path to health, wealth, wisdom and happiness.

All you have to do is submit your email below, then check your mailbox to confirm your subscription.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Health Inspire

Respect Yourself? Respect Your Health

Your health is your greatest asset,  second only to your reputation.

So why do so many choose to disrespect themselves by disregarding their health?

After years of grappling with this question, I've finally decided that it's lack of awareness and understanding, not lack of willpower or commitment.

For the most part, the pinnacle of the commoditized modern lifestyle is maximum convenience and short-term gratification and marketers know how to capitalize on that.

As a result, all of us who live in modern Western, industrialized communities have been sold the bill of goods that says packaged, manufactured convenience “foods” are just as nutritious as whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, meat, poultry and dairy products.

We've also been brainwashed into believing that sitting beats standing and riding beats walking.

The reality is that convenience is actually killing “us.” As in the royal we. Some of us still prefer the “inconvenience” of preparing real, whole foods at home and moving rather than sitting.

This post isn't meant to be judgmental or condescending. The reality is that most people do not realize the effect that food has on physical and mental well-being. Poor quality food, low in real nutrients, will rapidly affect mental concentration, blood sugar, triglyceride levels and trigger inflammation.

If our brain doesn't receive proper nutrients, including adequate amounts of the right kinds of fats (like Omega 3 fatty acids) it can't function properly. What you eat, or don't eat, can lead to depression, anxiety, lack of focus (a/k/a attention deficit disorder).

On a longer term basis, the food you eat will play a key role in whether or not you develop diabetes, thyroid disorders, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's or some other dementia. Diet has been directly implicated in the development of autoimmune diseases.

On the other hand, food is one of the three keys to great health. If you choose the right foods you will feel better on a day-to-day basis, have more energy and reduce the possibility of developing chronic diseases, autoimmune diseases or succumbing to the ravages of environmentally-triggered illnesses like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and cancer.

In my own life, I've experienced a remarkable run of great health and energy in the 10 years since I gave up fast food and vastly decreased  my intake of manufactured food-like substances.  I can't prove that not eating industrial food has kept me well, but I can show a definitel correlation, in my experience, in what I eat, how much I sleep, and my ability to fend off the colds and other annoying minor illnesses that others seem to deal with on a regular basis.

The relationship between food and health is a topic I'll be exploring in-depth over at The Ben Franklin Follies: Your Path to Health, Wealth and Wisdom as that site gets re-launched in early December.

In the meantime, I hope this post will inspire you to consider what you eat and the impact it has, or will eventually have, on your health. Just because it's sold in the grocery store doesn't mean it's good for us to eat.

Have you experienced health issues related to food? I'd love to hear your success stories or challenges related to food and health. Leave me a comment below and let's start a conversation.


Sleep Is Your Secret Weapon

Did you know that sleep is one of the pillars of health and personal productivity?

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Poor Richard's Almanack, courtesy of Benjamin Franklin

If you know anything about me, you probably know that Benjamin Franklin is my hero.

If you know me fairly well, you also know that I'm a big believer in the power of sleep. My family has a running joke about my “early to bed” habits as resembling that of an elderly rural neighbor who was always in bed (asleep) just after dark.

I'm not quite that bad, but I'm almost always asleep by 10 p.m., at least if I have to be up around 6. If I stay up past 10, I need to move my wake-up time forward accordingly.

I've learned, through trial and error and positive reinforcement that I feel better and am more efficient and productive when I sleep well.

Recent Research Confirms The Health Benefits of Sleep

The BBC recently published the results of a study that found, among other things:

What they discovered is that when the volunteers cut back from seven-and-a-half to six-and-a-half hours' sleep a night, genes that are associated with processes like inflammation, immune response and response to stress became more active. The team also saw increases in the activity of genes associated with diabetes and risk of cancer. The reverse happened when the volunteers added an hour of sleep.


Similarly, The New York Times reported the results of several studies on sleep deprivation in this post: Lost Sleep Can Lead to Weight Gain. Studies found that less-than-sufficient sleep led to carbohydrate cravings and changed the biology of fat cells.

I've had personal experience confirming the research findings, with my own n=1.

Like most college students, I stayed up late socializing, especially on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

But unlike most college students, I didn't pull all-nighters to study. I I knew that if I would perform better on a test with plenty of sleep and little study, versus studying all night and showing up for a test. I tested this hypothesis multiple times  in undergrad and law school and never found a reason to reject it. I did better on tests if I just went to bed without studying than I did if I tried to stay up late “cramming” for a test.

As a working professional, I know that the nights I don't get adequate sleep are followed by days where my productivity wanes.

I might occasionally fake my way through a reasonably productive workday after night of tossing-and-turning or some event that kept me up late. But faking usually requires lots of caffeine.

A few sleep-deprived nights in a row almost inevitably lead to a craving for something sweet in the afternoon.

In short, I almost never crave junk food or candy bars unless I haven't been sleeping well. But when I don't sleep well, I find that I'm more likely to want something sweet-and-fatty and less willing to resist the temptation of a muffin to go with the coffee that I need to fuel me through the workday.

My willpower has a direct correlation with quality and quantity of sleep.

On the positive side, if I sleep well, I can handle pretty much anything life throws in my way. But if I haven't slept well, I will be, as my mother puts it, “fractious.” [No idea how to spell that word. It's my Mom's word.] I think she means temperamental.

The Take-Away: Sleep Matters

One of the fastest ways to feel better, improve your overall health, reduce your risk of auto-immune and other chronic illnesses, and lessen the risk of weight gain is to get at least 8 hours of quality sleep each night.

In addition to the health benefits, you'll also increase your efficiency and productivity each day. In short, you'll do more in fewer hours and maybe even free up time to pursue new interests.

So why aren't you sleeping already?

The Ben Franklin Follies

Sleep is one of the topics I'll be looking at in greater depth over at The Ben Franklin Follies. We'll have interviews with sleep-research experts and others who've studied the relationship between sleep, health, well-being and personal productivity and offer tips on how to boost the quality of your sleep and ensure you're getting adequate sleep each night.

Previews of the new season of The Ben Franklin Follies will start during Thanksgiving week. I hope you'll join us there on your path to health, wealth and wisdom.

Are you a fan of sleep? Do you struggle to get enough sleep each night? I'd love to hear your thoughts on sleep and how you feel when you get enough sleep vs. when you're sleep deprived.


Who sold out Halloween?

Costumes and trick-or-treating are fun activities, especially for kids. For adults, it's a good reason to gather with friends and experience community . And a good excuse for adults to wear something outlandish.

For those who aren't into the ghosts, ghouls and goblins aspect, there's the Fall festival approach that still allows for treats and fellowship.

As is the case with all holidays, major or small, 20th marketers saw a business opportunity to sell costumes and treats and thus we now have the commodification of another cultural practice and tradition.

Just in case you aren't aware: Halloween is a derivation of All Hallow's Eve, a celebration that emerged from the historic Christian church tradition that celebrates November 1 as All Saints Day, a time to remember Christian believers who have already entered eternity. The eve of All Saints Day turned into a night of revelry and some debauchery in advance of the more pious religious feast day.

Making costumes from the back-of-the-closest or thrift-store finds, or even home-sewn apparel is a chance to be fun and creative. My favorite costumes are the ones that are home-crafted. Nothing memorable about a plastic cape or a mask of political figure someone hates.

When I moved into adulthood and set up my own household, I bought bags of candy to give out to trick-or-treaters who stopped by. But the obesity epidemic and my own decision to give up fast food, led me to rethink that practice.

I don't think the marketplace needs me to participate in a junk-food feeding frenzy or buy disposable costumes or accessories.

For two years, when I lived in Oklahoma, I spent extra and bought boxes of granola bars, small individual packs of raisins (sealed), and bags of fruit. The trick-or-treaters turned up their noses. I ended up with lots of leftover apples and raisins.

I'm not a purist who's opposed to store-bought candy and sweets, in moderation. I occasionally eat a Snickers bar, although much less often than I used to. Mainly because the Snickers bar no longer tastes as good as it once did. I think they changed the formula or something. Anyway, it's not worth $1.03 to me, which is the current cost of a Snickers bar if I buy one on campus from the bookstore. And I'm not going to buy Snickers by the bag, in advance, to economize. I don't need five or six at a time.

I'm more than fond of home-baked cookies, brownies, pies and cakes, especially those I make myself. (I use whole wheat flour when baking and less sugar).

I won't be giving out letters to overweight kids, either. No need to make them feel bad. It's the parent who needs chastising.

But count me out of the retail frenzy. I'll be settled in tonight celebrating with a Harry Potter book. And baking one of the pumpkins I grew this summer.

How are you spending Halloween? Are you tired of the commodification of our holidays? Have you opted out? Why or why not? What do you think of this infographic? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below (after the infographic).

Statista's Halloween Chart of the Day 2013

Infographic Source: