Category Archives: My Rules

Laugh at Yourself for Health

A new study says one of the keys to be being happy, and therefore healthy, is the ability to laugh at yourself.  I’m not surprised, laughing at yourself is one my “rules”.

I wonder, is laughing at yourself when you’re making mistakes the same as laughing at yourself because you think you’re funny?  (My wife always seems to say “You really think you’re funny, don’t you?”)  No matter, laughing at yourself is now officially determined to be good for you.

Keep this in mind as you struggle with healthy eating (we all struggle with it, you know).  Keeping a positive attitude when you’re not doing as well as you’d like will help in the long run.

The next time you’re feeling guilty for the eating the whole thing, have a laugh at yourself for going so overboard.  Who knew you could pack away 3 pieces of fried chicken?  And a scoop a mashed potatoes.  And a biscuit.

Then resolve to stop at one serving next time.  And leave a drumstick for me.


Rule #6: Laugh at everything. Especially yourself.

The final rule is more a rule for life than a rule for health.  Although, I’d argue it’s vital for mental health and possibly the most important of all the rules.  This rule speaks for itself.  Find joy  and humor in everything.    Learn to love the failures and the struggles, the silliness of life, and the humor in all things human.

Laugh when you burn dinner.  Laugh when you trip on a crack in the sidewalk.  Laugh when you get rained on.  Laugh when your team wins.  Laugh when your team loses.  Laughter cures all ills.  Laughter is the best medicine.

Remember  to not take yourself too seriously.  Learn to laugh at yourself.  Especially when your waxing poetic about laughter on a nutrition blog.  Always remember Rule #6: Laugh at everything. Especially yourself. 

Rule #5: Educate yourself every day.

Ok, so this rule doesn’t relate to nutrition and health as directly as the first four rules.  But it certainly has its place.  Educating yourself every day, even if it’s just a quick glance at the day’s news, leads to a better understanding of the world around you.  Which, in turn, leads to more confidence and a better mental state.  Happier and healthier!  And with today’s technology, there is really no excuse to not follow Rule #5: Educate yourself every day.

How should you educate yourself every day?  It’s totally up to you.  I’d suggest finding a few websites or blogs (I know of a GREAT one!) that provide quality content that you’re interested in on a regular basis.  You can sign up for email alerts so posts pop right into your inbox or you can subscribe to a RSS feed and view posts in a web reader. (Click here for my entirely basic lesson on RSS feeds and google reader).

And don’t forget books!  Posts from websites and blogs is a great way to pick up nuggets of wisdom every day, but books teach us so much more on a topic so we can truly learn something.  And with the eReader options (ie Amazon Kindle) out there, it’s easy to have a book handy.

No matter how or where you get your information (don’t forget newspapers and magazines, too), make it a regular habit to learn something new every day.  And if you decide to include nutrition and health news in your daily education, I would be humbly honored if you chose Essentials of Nutrition to be a provider.

Rule #4: Make exercise fun. Challenge yourself.

Raise your hand if you consider going for a 3 mile run fun.  Ok….perhaps I’m the only one.  Oh, wait, there’s a few more, waaay in the back.  Anyway, here’s the problem.  You know exercise is good for you.  But most standard exercise you’re familiar with makes you wanna do your taxes instead.  It’s awfully hard to stick to an exercise regimen if you view it as a chore.  Hence, Rule #4: Make exercise fun. Challenge yourself. 

How do you make exercise fun?  Lots of ways!  The beautiful part is it’s up to you.  What makes something fun for you?  Is it from the competition of playing a sport?  Bonding with others through group fitness classes or programs?  The chance to get away from all the noise of life for a little while?  There’s an unlimited number of ways to make exercise fun.  You only need to find yours. 

Maybe what makes exercise fun for you is seeing yourself get better at something.  Or seeing the results of your hard work.  That leads to second part of the rule, Challenge Yourself.  Eventually all exercise will get stagnant and boring.  Keep it fun by mixing up or challenging yourself to get better at your normal routine. 

Challenging ourselves in exercise is one of the few areas of life where we can see or feel the rewards for our hard work almost immediately.  That boosts our self-esteem, making us happier and more confident.  And makes us want to exercise more.  Pretty good deal for something that’s free. (Well, kinda free).

I’ll give plenty of ideas on how to make exercise fun and challenge yourself throughout the blog.  And hopefully hear suggestions from you on how you’ve made exercise fun.  For now, though, I’ve gotta run.  Literally.  Three miles is calling my name…..

Rule #3: Take your vitamins.

One of the most common questions I get is “Should I take a multi-vitamin?”.  My answer, Abs-o-flippin-lutely!  I understand the debate about the need for vitamin supplements. In fact, in pharmacy school it was preached most people get their recommended daily vitamin amounts through diet alone, and don’t require a multivitamin.  That’s what I believed for the first 7 years of my practice. 

I wonder what they teach in pharmacy school now? See, I graduated in May 2002, later that year the American Medical Association released a study declaring only 20% of Americans get the minimum recommended daily vitamin allowances from their diet and should take a supplement.  While no modern health professional, including myself, would suggest a multivitamin replaces a healthy diet, the prevailing wisdom for supplementation is now my Rule #3: Take your Vitamins.

For me, Take your Vitamins goes much deeper than taking a simple drugstore multivitamin.  There is growing evidence, and it is my professional belief, that vitamin supplementation can protect us from diseases caused by something called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is cell damage caused by free radicals produced from toxins in our environment. (Confused? I’ll discuss oxidative stress in-depth later) 

The number of toxins in our environment has increased exponentially.  In turn, free radical exposure has increased.  Therefore, the amount of vitamins required to protect our cells from free radical attack is much higher than current daily recommendations.  And much higher than what you can realistically get from your diet.  Hence, the need for a multi-vitamin supplement.

The idea of vitamin protection against disease-causing free radical damage and oxidative stress is one of my central professional beliefs.  As such, you’ll see plenty of blog entries discussing this topic.  In addition,  I’ll regularly post on topics related to all things vitamin and supplement. 

 That’s rule #3.  Love it. Learn it.  You’ll see it often around these parts.

Rule #2: Plan ahead for all meals. Learn to cook.

About that “But do so wisely” bit for Rule #1.  It boils down to this.  You can essentially eat whatever you want.  BUT, (notice the big but) you have to do so smartly.  In addition to eating the right foods in the right portions, you also need to plan ahead of time for what you’re going to eat.  Typically that means preparing and cooking your own meals.  Hey! That’s Rule #2: Plan ahead for all meals.  Learn to cook. 

The most important thing you can do to eat healthy consistently is plan your meals and snacks ahead of time. Unfortunately, when we don’t plan ahead, our options for healthy eating are essentially non-existent. Planning ahead  gives us more options for healthy eating and obligates us to eat the healthy food we’ve already bought (no one likes wasting food, or money). 

Planning ahead includes:

  • Packing lunch and snacks for work.
  • Stocking the cooler with healthy stuff on road trips.
  • Making healthier fare for the tailgate rather than eat in the stadium.
  • Considering what to eat at a restaurant before arriving.
  • Going grocery shopping regularly to keep the house stocked with healthy options.
  • Learning to prepare and cook our own meals.

 A necessity of planning ahead for our meals is learning to prepare and cook them ourselves.  Oftentimes, the idea of cooking a meal seems time-consuming or intimidating.  Throughout this blog I’ll show you tricks I use to make cooking fun and easy.  I’ll also give ideas for snacks and meals that you can try.  Cooking and healthy eating is all about learning the basics and then experiementing as you go.  Make it a hobby!

The bottom line for Rule #2: Combine some minimal forethought to meals with a basic understanding on cooking and you’ll start eating healthier immediately.

(Note: Every Tuesday the blog will be devoted to cooking tips, healthy snack ideas, and generally, applying Rule #2 to your life.  Join me then!)

Rule #1: Food is not the enemy! Enjoy it! But do so wisely.

A few days ago, after finishing our frozen pizza dinner, Kashi Margherita, (solidly healthy choice for frozen pizza, average taste) my girl, AJ, who is in full pre-wedding slimming down mode, declared, “Well, now I feel guilty”.                No Ma’am!  NEVER feel guilty for eating something less than perfect! Which leads to Rule #1: Food is not the enemy! Enjoy it! But do so wisely.

AJ felt the same way most of us do about food.  That we should feel guilty about enjoying food. That food is the enemy.  That food will make us fat.  That food is our daily struggle.  That everything would be fine if food wasn’t always bringing us down.  Damn you food!  Here’s the thing though, making food the enemy will make you unhealthy and unhappy.

Declare it! Food isn’t the enemy! Food is wonderful! Food is nourishment! Food is life and love! Enjoy it!                                                                                       

Enjoying food is part of the human experience. Embrace it as such.

Ah, but there is that “But do so wisely” part of the rule. What does that mean, exactly? Well, from our story it means getting a healthier pizza option and avoiding the delivery pizza guy. (Although, you can have delivery pizza. I do! Just not once a week.) 

It also means discovering all the wonderful tastes and textures fresh, whole food can bring you. It means experimenting with different foods. It means educating yourself on healthy options. It means preparing your own meals. Which leads me to the next Rule: Plan ahead for all meals. Learn to cook.