While I may drop dead from a heart attack or an aneurysm tomorrow, I, nevertheless, am in probably the best shape of my life. Several years ago, I dropped about 65lbs, took up running, and became a vegetarian. A few month ago I gave up one of my two remaining bad habits when I quit smoking. I had been down to about 5 a day for the past 4-5 years. And, when I noticed that the smoking was getting in the way of my running, I dropped it. It was actually easy this time, because I had found something to replace it that I liked doing more. I wrote about this in a previous blog a while ago, but wanted to revisit it as part of this posting on health maintenance.
A common question I'm asked (both due to lifestyle and the industry in which I work - Natural Products) is what do I consume in the way of food and supplements. That is both an easy and a difficult question to answer. The best answer would be: It varies.
I'll start with food. For breakfast most mornings, I have either Wheatabix mixed with GrapeNuts or oatmeal. With both I use either soy or rice milk (I try to stay away from animal milk products as much as possible). I usually have a banana later in the a.m. or after a run (I run in the a.m. about half the time). Lunch is usually a soup and a vegetable. Dinner is usually a salad or a really hearty soup (I've really been into making super spicy asian noodle-type soups lately), sometimes coupled with a wrap filled with something light. In the evening, I snack on nuts, apples, or crackers, and every now and then a bowl of orange sherbet. I don't have a problem with varying this diet, or eating out. I'll do pizza, Asian, or my absolute fav, Greek/Mediterranean foods whenever any friend wants to dine out. I do pass on fried foods, meals with a lot of carbs, and sugars. I'm lucky with respect to the last item, because I don't have a huge desire to chow on sweet things, and don't ever have a craving for things like chocolate.
As far as supplements go the list is long and varied. Every morning, I take a swig of Udo's 3.6.9. Oil, a CoQ10 capsule, and a potassium supplement. Udo's I take for essential fatty acids (EFAs), CoQ10 for heart health, and potassium mainly for cramp prevention when running. During the day, I'll chew a few of Pines wheat grass tabs, or mix some wheat grass powder in water. I do this for general vegetable nutrition; the idea that you should get most of your vitamins, minerals, protein...from a whole food source, which wheat grass is. Less frequently, I'll take Flora's DHA capsule. I'll also take an effervescent powder from Either Trace Minerals or EmergenC to restore electrolytes after a hard run. My sports doctor recommends taking Ibuprofen before or after all workouts. Honestly, though, I only take it when I have some sort of pain related to a workout. It seems to help with the occasional muscle or joint pain. Late in the day, I'll take another swig from Udo's bottle, and finish off the day with an ounce or so of Lilly of the Desert Aloe Vera Juice - a wonderful product. During runs longer than 8 miles, I take any one of a number of gel shot type products - Accel Gel, Powder Bar, Cliff's... They all seem to do the trick.
After my long runs on Sundays, I almost always take a bath (I have a jetted tub which makes for a nice bit of relaxation). On the advice of my massage therapist, my rolfer, my sports doctor, and the chiropractor I see on occasion, I always add epsom salts to the water. Honestly, I don't know how much doing that helps. But, if nothing else, the salts do make my skin feel better.
Finally, a bit more about running. My Mizunos are hanging in there, but have suffered a bit of damage on the periphery from too much running on gravel. And, with a trip to Colorado coming up in the not too distant future, I decided to give them a break and buy a pair of running shoes designed for trail running. Last night I settled upon a pair of Brooks Cascades. As soon as I get a bit of running in them under my belt, I'll put down some thoughts on them. They'll be the first pair of Brooks I've ever owned. My beloved Asics Gels will go into semi-retirement. The Mizunos will now only be used for the road, as intended.
One final item: if you're looking for a place to donate old running shoes, Garry Gribble's passes along their customers' old shoes to an organization called Soles 4 Souls. The shoes go to places like Haiti. Very worthwhile.