A Practical Guide to Health IMHO

Before you listen to me feel free to consult an M.D. or other professional.

I just wanted to write on the weekends about fitness and nutrition again. Like anything I tend to draw from my own experience because I want to uplift and inspire others.

Making positive changes is possible at any time along the road in your recovery and your life. A lot of time making a drastic wholesale change isn’t warranted unless you’ve gotten to the point of being in dire straits with your health.

I wanted to give some hope to readers and talk about what I think makes sense.

A bone density test revealed that I don’t have osteoporosis. This amazes me because I don’t consume 2,000 mg of calcium per day. It totally mystified me. Yet I think it’s proof that everything in moderation is really the way to go.

The older you get strength training becomes more important. I dead lift 175 pounds now because I do 3 sets of 10 reps. With lower reps I can dead lift 180 pounds or more.

I have no scientific proof that strength training can give you strong bones. I should Google this before I go off leaping into telling readers things about building better bones.

Yet I thought I’d talk about this to demystify all the hype and hoopla about what a person is supposed to do to be healthy. Expert advice aside I think a healthy dose of common sense is warranted.

My calcium intake consists of 3 sticks of string cheese a day (different kinds) for 600 mg. calcium – plus 1 cup reduced-fat chocolate milk (300 mg calcium) – plus 8 oz of skim milk with cereal in the morning (100 mg calcium) – plus whatever I get from dark green leafy vegetables or broccoli or another source.

I found out that Buitoni wild mushroom agnolotti (a kind of pasta) has 150 mg of calcium per package.

This all adds up to about 1,000 to 1,200 mg calcium per day. Plus I take a 2,0000 IU Vitamin D3 gel cap in the morning. If memory serves Vitamin D increases calcium absorption.

To prove a point I can prove without Googling because it makes sense to me: cutting out all dairy from your diet doesn’t make sense.

The anti-psychiatry crowd will recommend not consuming dairy. The health faddists will recommend not consuming dairy. At all.

Yes I’m living proof that there’s a happy medium. See this Mediterranean Food Pyramid for the details:


You can have eggs, cheese, and yogurt on this beautiful “diet” which isn’t actually a diet just a sensible and healthy and yes delicious eating plan.

I really don’t eat white food like potatoes, french fries, regular pasta, and white rice. Nor do I eat a lot of whole grains either as a rule though you’re supposed to. Nixing refined grains is a must so I don’t have any of this kind either. High-fiber whole grain cereal in the morning is more my style.

The Mediterranean Diet has been written about in books since 1993 and this “diet” has been around forever as practiced by Italians in Italy and in other Mediterranean countries.

Really now. I don’t even think you need to exercise 5 times a week for an hour a day. Like some experts insist you need to do.

Tamara Allmen M.D. (certified menopause doctor and author of Menopause Confidential) and Lindsey Vonn (Olympic gold-medalist skier) and Miriam Nelson (Strong Women,  Strong Bones founder) all recommend strength training 2X per week and mixing in bouts of cardio.

That’s all folks.

The cardio can be spinning or Zumba or the treadmill or walking at a brisk pace or any kind of aerobic exercise you want to do for cardiovascular fitness. For maximum benefit to your bones and your body and your mental conditioning I recommend lifting weights as your primary exercise routine.

I’ll end here by also recommending the Mediterranean Diet as a good eating plan to follow 80 percent of the time. Striving to consistently eat healthfully 80 percent of the time sounds right to me.

NAMI Blog Article This Summer


The arms look OK here if you ask me. This or another photo might accompany a news article I’m having published in the NAMI blog online either this summer or in the fall.

I took my Top 10 Fitness Motivation Tips and expanded it into a news article to pitch to NAMI. The article will be published in the NAMI blog online.

Here now I want to suggest hiring a nutritionist to be on your treatment team. I’m going to hire a nutrition pro to help me this summer.

In the 1990s I employed an M.D. who had a private practice in health and nutrition to help me lose weight. I saw her at most five times through those years. Yet having seen her was the stepping stone to taking action on my own to have better health.

At a Left of the Dial book talk I recommended this M.D. to a father whose daughter struggles with atypical-drug weight gain. That’s why I champion hiring a nutritionist to be on your treatment team.

This M.D. wrote on her prescription pad the RDAs of fiber, protein, and calcium I was supposed to get. She gave me handouts like a sheet that listed sources of calcium and the amounts of calcium in each serving. She examined my food journal I kept to record what I ate every day for two weeks.

Keeping a food journal is the first step in tracking what you eat to see how you can change your behavior. Enlisting a professional to help you can also benefit you in the long-term even if you see this person for only a few sessions.

The ironic yet true thing is that if you train intense at the gym like I do and are active elsewhere you might need to eat more food as fuel. Which is not to say eat any food–eat more protein and more healthful food to fuel your body everyday.

The response was quick–NAMI responded in 24 hours to tell me they’re going to use my news article. I’ll give readers a link to this article here when it appears on the NAMI blog.



The Top 10 Fitness Motivation Tips

Set a SMART goal: one that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-sensitive.

Be realistic yet challenge yourself. Research shows that setting easy goals makes us less motivated to try to achieve them. A challenging goal can be achievable when it’s a personally meaningful goal that we’ve set for ourselves not one that others have told us we should embark on. To achieve a goal we must be invested in it.

Focus on what you did do not on what you didn’t do.

Setting up impossible demands on yourself will set you up to fail. Be proud you exercised twice in one week instead of beating yourself up for not exercising five times.

Change one behavior at a time.

In the 1990s I started my inchoate quest to have better health. The first week I replaced whole milk with skim milk. Next I cooked chicken without the skin. Then I stopped cooking meat. And so on.

Reward yourself often for little victories as well as milestones.

My favorite is to shop at Banana Republic with coupon codes. The cost of the treat should be commensurate with the goal. I’m not advocating for spending a lot of money on rewards just on the kind of reward that boosts a person up.

Set performance goals as you go farther along.

Achieving perfect form, lifting higher weights, doing more reps or mastering an exercise you previously weren’t good at all count as possible performance goals.

Find the kind of exercise that is best for you.

I’m a big fan of strength training most of all for everyone as we get older and want to maintain a healthy weight and have functional fitness throughout our lives.

For you, your own Tour de Fitness might be taking spinning classes.

Focus on the positive long-term consequences of developing a consistent fitness routine instead of dwelling on the occasional setbacks that are often only temporary.

If for a week or two you haven’t exercised as often as you wanted or have “fallen down” in a way that upsets you be kinder to yourself and remember that “fitness is forever” and you’re not perfect. Aim for progress instead.

Remember that nutrition is 80 percent of fitness.

Food habits go hand-in-hand with exercise habits. Endless snacking and unhealthful eating can torpedo your efforts at the gym.

Re-frame your perception of “exercise.”

In my own life I use the umbrella term fitness not exercise. Fitness is an organic approach that encompasses lifestyle (thoughts and feelings, spirituality, finances, career and relationships, among other things).

Have fun.


The Champion’s Comeback

I’ve finished reading The Champion’s  Comeback: How Great Athletes Recover, Reflect, and Reignite by Jim Afremow. He also wrote The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive.

Buy these two books along with Fight Your Fear and Win by Don Greene. The three books are the winners in terms of self-help. The Champion books can be used to excel at the game of life as well as on the playing field in sports.

From The Champion’s Comeback: “Ask yourself, ‘What are my big-picture goals–not just in sports and fitness, but in life?’ Then establish some daily, seasonal, and career goals that are challenging and reachable.”

You can install the two Champion books on an iPad or a Kindle.

Afremow tells it like it is: instead of trying to lighten our load we should seek to have broader shoulders.

Life isn’t easy yet as long as we try our best there can be no shame if we fail. If we didn’t give it our best shot we have to accept the outcome.

The Michael Jordan quote on the top right side of this blog is so true.

I know something readers:

Like Freddie Mercury sang in Queen:

We are the champions.

Buy these books and you won’t be disappointed.

Their tactics apply to life as well as sports.

How to Be Successful

I know of no other way to be successful than to work longer and harder at a goal that resonates with you as life-changing.

I was 46 when I started to work out at the gym like a madwoman in training for the prizefight of her life. Before that I hadn’t lifted even 5 pounds.

If you have a life-changing goal that you want to make happen I find it helps to focus on this goal with a laser-precision.

A lot of things you decide you want to do might not work out in the long-term or you might abandon those goals along the way.

Yet a life-changing goal is one that should be pursued with all the energy and focus you can drum up for yourself.

I’ve been strength training for over 5 years now. I added two new exercises to each routine I do. The benefits accrue the longer you keep at a goal. I’m fitter than I was 5 years ago. The longer you continue to strength train the better your body will get.

Engaging in a fitness routine is one foolproof way to be successful in life. Our bodies are workhorses that can help us accomplish our goals.

I have always exercised in some way ever since I was a freshman in high school.

I could only do 5 sit-ups in one minute in gym class back then. My goal was to achieve the highest score: 50 sit-ups in one minute. I kept at it until I was able to do 50 sit-ups in one minute.

You could say that was the first meaningful goal I ever set.

Ever since then I’ve done some form of exercise throughout my life.

Now I strength train 2 to 3 days a week with cardio every so often.

I think it’s a myth that success is ever quick and easy. It’s a myth that you don’t have to exert effort to be successful. Nothing worth having comes without effort.

I’ll end here by saying that sticking with an exercise routine is what counts. Think long-term. If you slip up here and there just recommit.

I recommend the Jim Afremow book The Champion’s Comeback: How Great Athletes Recover, Reflect, and Reignite. His first great book was The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive. I have his first book on my iPad and will buy the second one soon.

Forget the Kardashians. Stop thinking other people have it easier or have it better. Find realistic role models who can inspire you.

It’s going to take years and years sometimes to get to where you want to be. Keep up a positive spirit. For some of us success might come quicker. Yet when it doesn’t the secret is to not give up.

The bottom line: if you commit to strength training for 5 years and then continue on after that you can continue to see even better results. Giving up on exercising after only three months is not the way to go. Even if you only train or exercise two days a week for a certain period that’s better than quitting totally.

I was just an ordinary person. I had no guarantee that I would succeed. The difference was I trusted myself to take action in the direct of my goals.

Not everything I did worked out (hello – gray flannel insurance career). Not everything you decide you want to do will work out.

It’s the process of trying your best every day that counts – not the result.

The Top 100 Fitness Foods


The Top 100 Fitness Foods is featured in this photo. If I remember the book costs under $20. It lists peanuts as being high in protein along with almonds and walnuts. Walnuts are a great plant source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

The green leaf lettuce came from the CSA box so as you can see you can get multiple servings from one box of organic produce.

The organic lime-pepper vegetable tofu soup is the Splendid Spoon offering.

I read in Self magazine about the woman who founded Splendid Spoon. I also like their lentil-kale soup. I didn’t like her cauliflower-coconut soup though.

Each 16 oz container of Splendid Spoon soup costs $6. You can spend close to $4 on Progresso soups which have chemicals. So springing for the extra dollar or two for Splendid Spoon offerings makes sense to me. The soup is organic and fills you up.

I had written in here about research that indicates poor nutrition can lead to depression.

From The Top 100 Fitness Foods:

Under beans and legumes section:

Lentils –

“Lentils are also crammed full of folate, an energy-boosting vitamin that plays a key role in the production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter in the brain associated with feeling happy.”

Food to improve mood: what better way to enjoy the day?

I recommend everyone buy a copy of The Top 100 Fitness Foods.

As you can see in the photo, it’s a short, compact volume. The book also features recipes and a food and ailments directory in the back.

Exercise May Reduce Cancer Risk

A research study indicates that exercise may reduce the risk of 13 cancers.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle could decrease cancer deaths by 67 percent for men and 59 percent for woman.

A healthy lifestyle could lower the discovery of new cancers by 41 percent in women and 63 percent in men.

As defined a healthy lifestyle is one where a person doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink too much, maintains a body mass index between 18.5 and 27.5, and exercises 75 to 150 minutes weekly.

Seventy-five minutes of vigorous exercise or 150 minutes of moderate exercise counts in this number.

I strength train two or three days a week for the most part. It adds up to between 80 minutes and 150 minutes.

Today I received a CSA box–a box of community-supported agriculture produce items from a local farm. The produce I bought is organic. There’s enough in the box to create three or four “vegetable” sides for three or four meals.

The photo below shows one dinner with local dry sea scallops and red chard. You can simply heat up olive oil in a saute pan and cook the red chard until it’s wilted yet not too dark. The sea scallops can be cooked for five minutes on each side with a little salt and pepper and garlic powder.

Here’s a nutrition fact you might not know: scallops are a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids. And the red chard–well greens in any form are always good.

This dinner is quick and easy: it takes only 10 minutes total to cook the items.

scallops red chard


Fifty and Beyond

I turned 51.

Fifty and beyond can be beyond measure.

I’m confident when I tell readers that life can get better as you get older.

It’s time to discard the old, the outgrown, the outdated.

Life demands that a person is open to what is possible for us at mid life.

I have a guy companion now. He appeared in real life like a soul mate. Not by checking off a list of traits on an Internet dating website to see if a guy matched every criteria.

Those guys’ photos on OKCupid look like mug shots.

The point is not that your soul mate has to be a wife or husband or other romantic partner.

I’m writing another book and in it I talk about a book at a library that talked about women’s sexual fluidity. I haven’t seen anywhere else on the Internet or in the mental health literature or in any other blog or in a blog featured on PsychCentral or elsewhere talk about sex and relationships in this kind of detail.

What’s often commiserated about is the idea that so-called normal people you take on a date think you’re “crazy” when you reveal you have a diagnosis. That’s so over.

Sex and relationships and talk about these things doesn’t have to be brought back to relating to the diagnosis if you don’t want it to.

What’s not talked about and should be is how income limits a person’s options more so than anything else.

Some women judge men by their ability to take them out for a 3-course steak dinner that costs at minimum $60 dollars. A friend had a woman chew him out because he didn’t take her to a high-end restaurant that cost at least $100. She thought the $60 he paid was too cheap. How offensive is that chica if you’re doing that–I think very.

Finding someone who’s compatible is not easy for a lot of us and it often has nothing to do with having a mental illness. If you’ve browsed OKCupid lately you’re aware there’s plenty of fish in the sea however most of them you wouldn’t want to swim near.

Becoming obsessed with finding a boyfriend or husband and settling for the wrong guy is a mistake.

At 50 and beyond we have the power–and women too have the power–to choose to focus on our heart’s desire.

Which for some of us might be walking down the alter and for others might be staying at home knitting a sweater.

I was supposed to write altar in that last sentence. Though alter can describe the kind of life some of us live.

I have seen no one else talk about this fluidity anywhere else. I have seen no one else talk about how income limits a person.

I have only seen in one other place a writer make the case for finding your true soul mate.

It was in the March 2016 Oprah magazine where a feature article talked about how a soul mate can be a friend or even a sweater or other article of clothing or a work wife or work husband as the expression goes.

It is time to talk about these things. It’s time to dispense with the usual discourse. It’s time to talk about having the courage to do your own thing–whatever your thing is–without fear of reprisal.

And if you don’t want to talk about illness except in a bare-bones way to the people you meet I say: go ahead–be discreet.

Judging other people is a crummy thing to do yet all too often it goes on and more so against people with mental illnesses. For reasons that are totally arbitrary.

Which is why I think each of us needs at least one soul mate who gets us on a divine level even if it’s not a physical level.

Exercise for Schizophrenia Treatment

I reported on the link between exercise and improved cognition for people diagnosed with schizophrenia. At HealthCentral three years ago I reported on a study linking interval training to a reduced waist circumference in people with schizophrenia.

I’m confident that strength training has turned my life around for the better. I was 46 when I started to train at the gym like a madwoman. Strength training or as it’s called resistance training is the best way to maintain a better weight.

Though I lost only about five to seven pounds this is because I gained muscle. So even though I didn’t lose a significant amount of weight I dropped one pant and skirt size.

More than this it’s true that engaging in lifting weights conditions your mind as well as strengthens your body. You develop what I call “emotional spine.”

Having this strength enables us to take care of our loved ones who are getting older or who have a mental illness.

Having emotional spine allows us to live strong and not get blown apart by creepers who post hateful comments in the comments section below Internet news articles.

I’ll trust that those creepers are worth listening to when they say something that actually makes sense. A so-called international expert on PsychCentral attacked me in a comments section below her own news article there when I posted my own comment.

The hate in society–against people diagnosed with schizophrenia or other mental illnesses–I want no part of it. Most likely these haters aren’t kind to anyone they meet. This is their karma they’re experiencing in this lifetime. In a future life they’ll most likely come back as a person with an illness.

I’m not a big Facebook fan. I deactivated my personal account after a woman I friended nine years ago added me to an anti-psychiatry Facebook group without my permission. Social media–and the Internet–can be a tool used for advancing the good of humanity. Yet it can also in rotten hands be used to spread hate and fear and narrow-mindedness.

Everyone has the choice how to treat people. In instances of real discrimination that is when we should take out a lawsuit. Ordinary comments below an Internet news article should be taken with a grain of salt.

I’ll end here by saying that if you want to lighten your load in life you can make this happen by lifting heavy loads in the gym. Or by finding and committing to whatever fitness routine makes you happier and healthier.

I read yesterday that giving yourself a name to describe yourself–like fruit eater–helps make the behavior stick and gives you motivation to continue.

Just call me the Dead Lift Queen.

Brooklyn Health and Performance

Circa seven months ago I wrote about Brooklyn Health and Performance here.

It’s located in South Slope in Brooklyn, NY. I write about it again for all my New York City readers and followers.

Every so often a magazine lists the Top 15 Fitness Centers here. They cost a ton of money and people who follow trends flock to them because the fitness centers are hip like SoulCycle.

Brooklyn Health and Performance delivers state-of-the-art or should I say science coaching that starts with an individualized fitness assessment. No calipers thank you. The Head Coach then creates a custom fitness program for you.

The best service the fitness center offers is its Distance Coaching. You can use their distance coaching service even though you’re a member of another gym. The Head Coach will assess you and design your custom routine to use at your own gym.

Brooklyn Health and Performance has three restrooms with showers.

I recommend this gym 125 percent. I wasn’t fooled by the rough feel to the place. You know you’re in the right place when the fitness center boasts 100 pound kettlebells.Yes–100 pound kettlebells.

This gym doesn’t get crowded because it offers semi-private training. The membership fees aren’t steep yet you do get what you pay for: results that can’t be beat.

Go on the Brooklyn Health and Performance Website to see for yourself the benefits of joining this fitness center. Read the blog and read the detailed information about topics like weight loss and nutrition.

Get in on this boutique gym before everyone else does. You’ve tried all the rest now try the best.