Diets still don’t work, but ….

Diets still don’t work.


If you want to make a long lasting, sustainable change to your health, going on a diet is not the solution – they don’t workyoung woman weighs herself.  The good news though is that diets can help bridge between where you are at now, and a healthier lifestyle.  If this seems contradictory, let me explain briefly.

Most people “go on a diet” to accomplish a short term goal (usually to lose some weight – not a bad thing for most Americans, but more about that in another post).  The problem comes in when you end the diet.  If the goal was just to lose weight, you may or may not meet that goal – but after you stop the diet – what then?   Most people either merge back into their old way of eating – or “reward” themselves with desserts and treats and find they end up weighing more than when they started their diet.

Losing weight is not a bad thing, but is it the right goal?  I believe that is part of the problem – shooting for the wrong target.  Consider weight gain as a symptom of the problem instead of the problem to be targeted.

Start by visualizing the healthy you – what does that look and feel like?  Be really specific about how you visualize the healthy you, and remember -It’s not just about weight loss.  Even though losing some weight would be good for most Americans, you need to  visualize the version of you that you want to be –  truly healthy and feeling good.  Visualizing the healthy you is the first step to making the lifestyle changes that will help you get there.

Ask yourself what it would be like to get up every day, feeling good, and eager to do things to nourish and care for your body.   Many healthy, active lifestylepeople don’t even remember a day where they “felt really good” – but what if you could make some lifestyle changes that would have you getting up most every day feeling great?

You won’t make lasting changes until you line up your goals and priorities with a specific visualization of a healthy you.  Once you do that, you’re ready to start looking at some specific steps to get there.  The next few posts will look at a few of the diets that are out there that can help you move toward that goal.  I will also give you some specific guidance on some other important lifestyle choices, and how to make these changes stick – so that they can become part of a healthy lifestyle.





The importance of healthy liver function

It’s important to briefly touch on the liver before reviewing some of the various dietary approaches to a healthier lifestyle.  Why?  Because your liver is one of the most vital organs in your body, performing dozens of functions – only a handful of which we’ll look at here.  Without your liver you cannot live, and without a healthy liver, you cannot be healthy.

The liver is the largest organ of the body – a few of it’s most important functions are:Liver

  • Helps metabolizes nutrients
  • Detoxifies harmful substances
  • Storage of glycogen for later use
  • Production of bile
  • Helps break down insulin and other hormones
  • Production of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1)
  • Production of ketones

While there are many other important functions of the liver – these are the ones I wanted to focus on as we look at a healthy diet as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Consider these four important facts regarding your liver:

  1. A healthy liver is important (and necessary) for daily health and living.  Impaired liver function can cause many serious diseases and conditions.
  2. Your lifestyle and diet can have a great effect on the health of your liver and it’s overall function
  3. A healthy liver is *crucial* to the proper metabolism of fats in your diet (especially if you intend to live a low-carb lifestyle)
  4. There are specific dietary and supplement approaches to assist in keeping your liver healthy

Upcoming we’ll look at

  • one specific herbal supplement to aid in healthy liver function
  • the liver’s function in low-carb and very low carb diets
  • some of the benefits of a low-carb diet as a part of a healthy lifestyle
  • some first-hand experiences with a low-carb approach to a healthy diet


Have a question or something to add?  Use the reply form below – I’d love to hear from you.

Another Reason I Run

I’ve considered myself to be a “runner” for over 25 years.

What started out as a move of desperation to try to burn off some quickly accumulating post-marriage pounds became something I love, and is now a passion – one that I enjoy, and that I enjoy sharing with others.

One of the true pleasures that I get from running is sharing some of my favorite trails and routes with friends.    I’m blessed to live in the mountains of North Carolina, which gives me access to many horse trails for running.

I love the beauty of the outdoors, the fresh air, the time away from the noise and buzz of society and the opportunity to enjoy the sounds of nature.  I also enjoy being able to share these paths and trails with friends.

This also serves me well as a motivation for running.  Believe it or not – even someone who loves running needs a little motivation once in a while – whether to pick up the pace, or sometimes just a little extra encouragement to get off my butt and hit the trail.

You may also find the sense of reward and fulfillment that comes from sharing a fitness activity you love, or sharing a favorite trail – or from just helping someone make regular fitness activities a part of their lifestyle.robert2-1

In this case, I was able to share one of my favorite routes with my friend Robert.   While Robert is already a runner – he had never run this trail before.  In this picture we had just finished the 4 mile ascent and were taking a moment to enjoy the view before starting back down the trails.

Whether it’s sharing the love of running, or sharing a favorite route – I think you will also find the rewarding feeling that comes from sharing your passion for fitness with someone.  You just might be the encouragement they need to make fitness a part of their healthy lifestyle.

Questions or comments – use the form below – I’d love to hear from you.


what are the best running shoes for someone just getting into running?

I have recently received several questions from people who have just starting running or trying to get into it.  Some of these questions have come from reading the posts here on running, and some from people who know I run and want to try running as a way to lose a little weight, become more fit, and generally get in better shape.  One common question is:  what are the best running shoes?

Everyone’s feet are a little different, and you may have some specific issue with your feet that require special insoles or some special orthotics, but there are a couple of general guidelines that do apply to all new runners.

1.  If possible, have your shoes and feet checked at a runners store.  These people specialize in matching you with the right products and can help you get the right shoes for your feet, weight, stride, etc.  This is absolutely your best bet to get the right shoes for your feet/body/weight/strike etc.  Keep in mind that shoe brands are like other things – everyone has their favorite.  This goes for running and shoe stores as well.  It is a good idea to talk to some other runners about brands before going to get specific recommendations on the type of shoe that is the best fit for you so you can approach this with the focus being on the right fit/support for your feet and body.

2.  Check the soles of your current shoes (even better if you have some running or athletic shoes).
Here’s a very basic guideline:  if your shoes are worn evenly – you have a neutral strike.  If they are more worn on the inside edge of the sole you most likely over-pronate, and if they are more on the outside edge of the sole you most likely under-pronate (supinate).  If you pronate or supinate, you need to target shoes that will address those issues.  There are specific shoes that will address your degree of pronation.  There are also shoes designed for different calibers or runners and different styles of running.  This post will highlight three recommendations for those with a neutral strike. 

3.  Use one of the many tools available on the web to help you measure and analyze several aspects of your feet, legs, body and physiology to find the best type and fit of running shoes.  I’m a big fan of the My Precision Fit site Mizuno has set up at

So here are my top three recommendations for runners looking for a good quality neutral shoe:

Mizuno Wave Ridermizuno-mens-wave-rider-16-f-pri-410511-001F
Mizuno is my favorite brand overall, and is my first recommendation.
The Wave Rider is now in it’s 16th generation and is better than ever if you have a neutral stride and are in the low-mid BMI range. The shoes will wear well, are light, and you should many miles out of them.  For many runners these are their overall go-to shoes for training and racing.  The Wave Rider is my personal favorite and the shoes I wear for almost all of my running.

Nike Air PegasusAirPegasus-29
The Air Pegasus is a time proven favorite of many runners.  With a long history and proven track record of good performance, the Air Pegasus is a solid choice for everyday running and casual racing.  Great wear and a comfortable feel make this a good choice for many runners.  The Air Pegasus is relatively light and yet holds up well.  As with the Wave Rider, you will get many miles out of this shoe.

Brooks Glycerin
The Brooks Glycerin (and the Brooks Ghost) is another good choice for a neutral runner brooks– especially if you tend a little higher on the BMI scale.  Actually, Brooks has always been an excellent choice for a heavier or bigger runner and has engineered their shoes to hold up well to the extra stress from a heavier strike.

Each of the shoe manufacturers above have excellent websites with good descriptions of these models and their other shoes.  If you want to understand more about pronation, under-pronation, and over-pronation (supination), check out this article from Runners World.

I also highly recommend the My Precision Fit site from Mizuno – their goal with that site is “to help you find the running shoe that works in best harmony with your body.”

Questions or comments – please use the reply form below, I’d love to hear from you.

You don’t have to do it all at once

This blog is dedicated to one thing – helping you make little changes to help you move toward a healthier lifestyle one little step at a time. This applies to all areas of health and fitness covered here on Remember that matter how healthy or unhealthy your lifestyle is today, you didn’t get there overnight.

Keep this in mind as you read these posts about diet, lifestyle, and fitness. I receive questions from people who are just getting started at living a healthier lifestyle. Sometimes it may seem daunting or overwhelming when you read posts about running (e.g. best time of day to run, or how to do interval training, etc) and it could be disheartening if you’re just trying to get started on addressing on moving your lifestyle in a healthier direction.

It’s very important to remember that you can’t (and shouldn’t try) to change everything overnight. You might know someone who did that and changed their whole life (seemingly) overnight – diet, fitness, sleep, emotions, etc. While those all are linked and positive changes in one of these areas will help foster positive changes in other parts of your life, rare is the person who can “do it all at once” and sustain those changes.

If you keep this on mind as you read the posts on diet, fitness, and even specific areas like running, it might be easier to find small steps that you can take to incorporate these things into your life.

Coming up: posts on the best running shoes for beginners, the best way to get started with running, how to get started with weight loss, and small dietary steps you can take that can add up to big changes in terms of a healthier lifestyle.

Please keep those questions coming using the reply form below, and take advantage of the ads and partners on the special offers page as they help cover the costs of bringing this blog to you.

So how do you pick out the right running shoes?

What are the best running shoes?

I am often asked some variation of this by people who are new to running, or want to make sure they are wearing the best shoes for their feet.  This is a good question to consider, because there is a plethora of shoes available, for all different types of runners, people we weigh different amounts, people with different feet issues, and for different kinds of running – not to mention all the different brands.

pile of running shoesIs there a best way to pick out the right running shoes for your feet?  Yes – I think the best method is to people you know who have been running for some time, find out their thoughts and experience with different shoes, and then have them direct you to  a good athletic footwear store (running oriented).  A good running store should guide you through a selection practice based on a few key criteria.

They will consider your weight, your running type, the way your feet hit the ground, and they should do a visual review of how you run.  Some stores will have cameras and treadmills that do a very detailed analysis of these factors and some others to come up with a specific recommendation.  Keep in mind that not all stores carry all brands and so their recommendation may be biased toward the brands they carry.

Over the next few posts we’ll look at some of the factors to consider in choosing your running shoe, and how your shoe can affect various aspects of your running and other aspects of your physical health.

We’ll also talk specifically about a few of the brands available.  There are many good brands available and we’ll specifically look at a few of them, though I will tell you right up front that my favorite brand is Mizuno, and I will tell you why.    We’ll also look at what specific to look for in running shoe reviews.

What might limit you from running every day?

In the recent posts we’ve looked at the questions of how often should you run, and should you run every day to meet your health and fitness goals.  Before you decide on your schedule and start hitting the trail or track or wherever it is you decide to run (watch for an upcoming post on where you should run), there are a couple of important factors you should consider regarding your physical condition.

1.     Do you have any current physical conditions or illness that would prevent you from running every day or even regularly?

This would obviously include anything like muscle, heart, lung, joint, tendon or other issues that present physical challenges to regularly running.   Be smart and listen to your body.  Even though running is a great way to consistently burn a lot of calories – it does you no good if you damage your body in the process.

If you have something that hurts (beyond just the soreness that comes from exercising and working muscles image courtesy of kozzi.comthat aren’t conditioned to working out), be smart and back off.  Some people find that running every other day works out just great, but every day tends to bring on joint pain.  Running every other day is great – use the in-between days for some type of weight and resistance exercise (a good option we’ll look at in more detail in an upcoming post).  In an upcoming post we’ll also look at running when you are sick or have a cold.  Of course, it should go without saying that you will want to check with your doctor before jumping into any rigorous physical activity – especially if you have some physical condition or have not been physically fit up to that point.  Which leads to the next factor:

2.     What kind of fitness or physical condition are you in?
If you have not been exercising regularly and/or are more than a few pounds overweight – it would be wise to check with your doctor before jumping into any type of rigorous physical activity. 

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock PhotosYou should also realize that you can’t (it is not wise) to try to go from 0-60 overnight; if you haven’t been exercising, don’t embark on a plan of running 5 miles every day; you’re not conditioned for that.  In addition, if you’re carrying extra weight you will be placing extra stress and pounding on your hips, knees, joints, and extra exertion on your heart and lungs.   As you begin to get more into shape and the pounds begin to drop off you can increase the length, speed, frequency and/or duration of your runs.

Be wise and don’t fall prey to the New Year’s Resolution syndrome:  so many people over commit early on to an unsustainable course of action just to quit a week or two later.  Take small steps that you can stick with and build on your successes.

Questions or comments – use the reply form below.

Can you run every day to meet fitness and health goals?

In the last post, I began looking at the question of how often should you run.

One of the biggest determining factors in how often you run (or do any exercise) has to be your fitness and health goals.   This is because your goals will help keep you on track, drive you toward a measurable result, and encourage you to push on – even when you don’t feel like doing your run.  Short term goals like preparing for an upcoming race can help push you to run more frequently or to do a specific type of running workout.  We’ve already covered some of the benefits that come specifically from running in previous posts. It’s also helpful to also remember that regular exercise itself has so many beneficial effects on your body and overall health.

image courtesy of

In order to reap these benefits, exercise has to be done regularly – and I recommend that it be daily.  Can this daily exercise be running?  Yes, it can be.  Should it be?  That is where personal choice comes in.  If running is something you love, or is something that will help you stay on track with regular daily exercise, then a definite yes.  Can you benefit from adding other types of exercise besides running to your fitness routine to optimize a healthy lifestyle?  This also gets a yes, and we’ll explore this idea further in an upcoming post.  Also in an upcoming post we’ll look at what might preclude you from running every day.

To underscore the benefits of making this regular (and daily), I’ll end this post with a reference to a Duke University Medical Center research study that revealed that regular exercise IS effective in lowering bad cholesterol levels.  This study showed a clear benefit of lowered harmful cholesterol levels in participants who regularly exercised.  It also found that some exercise is better than no exercise, but the biggest impact comes from increasing the amount of exercise – as in doing it daily. It’s worth noting that jogging and brisk walking were the types of exercise used in this study.

Questions or comments?  Use the reply form below – I’d love to hear from you.

So how often should you run?

I love to run and have loved it for a number of years.  For those that enjoy it as much as I do (some might use the word obsessed)  going on a run more than once in the same day is not out of the question.  I’ve been know to get “my” run in early in the day and then go for a “social” run with friends later in the day.  Obsession?  Maybe – but I really do enjoy running –  not just the physical benefits I get from running; i just enjoy getting out, feeling my body move and respond, the endorphins (the so-called runner’s high – will be covered in an upcoming post) and the invigoration from feeling my muscles in use and the beat of my heart and air exchange from deep breathing.    So am I recommending that you run multiple times in a day?  No – you can, but even that is based on the same principles that answer our question of how often you should run.treadmill

So here are a few things to consider to arrive at the answer of how often you should run:

-Your fitness goals
-Your physical condition
-Your current fitness level
-Your workout intensity (HIIT, pace runs, etc.)
-Your other exercise activities
-Your current level of stress
-Your current sleep quality (or lack thereof)
-Any current precluding physical conditions or illness

Over the next few posts we’ll take a look at each one of these and unravel the answer to this question.
If you have to know right now – the most important principle is to listen to your body – it gives you feedback all the time; sometimes we either listen poorly or ignore the messages it’s sending.

Questions or comments – use the reply form below – I’d love to hear from you!



Why I don’t always do HIIT

As described in some previous posts, HIIT is a great way to give an added kick to your workout, burn more calories, get a more intense workout in a shorter time – basically you’re getting more bang for the buck for the effort you put into your running.

So – why not do HIIT for every workout if it’s such a great thing?  I am asked this question from time to time.  More workout and more results in less time?   In this post I’ll tell you why I DON’T do HIIT for every workout or run that I do.  Here are four of the top reasons:17730394_s

  1. HIIT is intense!  It doesn’t just pack a bigger calorie burn into a shorter time, it more intensely works your muscles, joints, tendons, heart and lungs.  For this reason, unless you are an elite athlete you probably shouldn’t be doing this every day or for every workout – at least not at the most intense level every day.  If you do decide to make HIIT your regular workout, use sense regarding the duration of your workout and listen to the feedback your body gives you.  If your body is signaling to you that you need to back off on the length or intensity of your HIIT workout, or that you need to skip a day – DO IT!
  2. I enjoy the extra calorie burn and workout that comes form HIIT and packing a big workout into a small time, but I also enjoy the time I spend running.  While there are times when all I have time for is HIIT, I really do look forward to being able to spend the 25, 35, or 45 minutes running some of my favorite courses.  It’s nice to have that time unwinding, ,and thinking through the events of the day or challenges I might be working on, or to just let my mind relax while I hit the trail.
  3. I enjoy running in a race occasionally, and while HIIT will help you get better times in a shorter race like a 5k, I find that I also like to have my body very familiar with what it’s like to run continually for a longer distance – especially the distance of an upcoming race.  For me there’s a comfort in being totally familiar with distance and duration of a race – even better yet if I can do some of the training on the actual course of the race.
  4. I like running with friends too.  Spending 45 minutes with a someone on a Saturday morning running along a river or on a horse trail is not a bad way to spend some time!  I also enjoy the running the trails with someone a little better than I am so that I will push myself a little harder than I might if I were alone.

Use the reply form below to share questions, comments or your experience with running or HIIT.  I’d love to hear from you.