Monday, October 10, 2011

Letters to the Kitchen

I receive many emails about exercise and diet. So often, the questions are the same or very similar. For this reason, I directed my energy to the blog so multiple people could benefit from the conversation. In this post, I share an exchange with a friend regarding my input on dietary choices for an active lifestyle....

281 mile run for Diabetes: 2010: "Run the Coast"


"My husband and I have always been active but lately we've been more active. With running, hiking, I'm doing Zumba. And lately my husband has been complaining of knee pains, shoulder pains...and I think they are joint related. I feel like my body is lacking in nutrients. I am active with running and Zumba but I am also nursing my baby. So I am trying to keep up with calories so I am always feeling tired and exhausted.
We eat pretty normal. We eat healthy breakfasts, like Quaker cereal, for lunch we have either leftovers from the night before or sandwiches. For dinner I always make a meat, vegetable and a carb. I stay away from too much salt, cheese, and butter in my meals. I also, don't make all my meals from scratch. A lot of meals are pre-made from Trader Joes. So they are healthy, just not as healthy.
So I guess I have a few questions then....
Do you recommend daily vitamins to maintain energy? And what kinds? What do you recommend for joint pain in the knees for running. What type of dietary guidance would you provide in this situation?"

Thank you,


Dear Jessica,

Thank you so much for your message!  It's an honor to be in a position to help you and your family improve your health... First off, I'm not a doctor!  I try to avoid going to the doctor at all costs...and my choices about diet, health, and exercise are based on my personal training and experience. So, of course, if you guys are having any problems that need medical advice, please include your family physician in the conversation about how to deal with things like "joint pain."

Having said that, here is my take on it...

Joint pain, stiff elbow or knees, pain.... all of these things say "inflammation" to me.  Advil is an example of a medication which temporarily lowers inflammation. And, if Advil or Ibuprofen help you function, then you would likely benefit from the inclusion of more antioxidants in your diet. Let me rephrase WILL benefit greatly from more antioxidants in your diet! Here:

I had an interesting conversation with a co-worker last year on this topic. He was born in Afghanistan, and, when I told him I didn't eat animal products he laughed a little out of confusion. I told him that animal-derived foods were often the causation of  "western" illnesses like heart disease and cancer.  He stopped laughing and then he said something very interesting...

Wild Mulberries

"In Afghanistan, everyone in the city eats animal meat like the United States. The people in the city have a high rates of cancer, heart disease, and illness. Everyone is stressed out and working to make money.  But, there are these "mountain people" that live at the base of the hills.  They don't have any money so they eat mulberries all day and they can't afford meat. These "mountain people" are laughed at by the people in the city... BUT, the mountain people are happy all the time and they live much longer lives. They have beautiful skin even when they're in their 90s." 

Through my endurance training, I have learned a great deal about inflammation. The impact and miles causes swelling in my body. My knees, ankles, and shoulders have suffered. Six years ago, I ate a diet much like you and your family.  I was convinced it was healthy. And, like you, I was eating something free of many of the "bad things." BUT, I WASN'T EATING ENOUGH OF THE GOOD STUFF!

So, that is my recommendation to you and your husband. As you become more active, your body will adapt. But, you must assist your body in the adaptation process by fueling on nutrient-dense food. Simply avoiding the known "bad stuff" is not good enough.   In order to satisfy your body's needs, you must fuel your body on colorful, organic produce... through a medley of fresh foods. And you can achieve this by juicing fresh vegetables, making colorful fruit smoothies, and eating fresh food. In addition, you can also take a multi-vitamin. By making the majority of your diet one of rich, colorful, fresh will be fulfilling your body's needs and feeling better and better each day!

Aside from that, I urge you to try yoga. Yoga was developed 1,000 years ago...long before Advil. It takes a few sessions, but you will learn to appreciate it greatly. With an open mindset, healthy nutrition, and self-discipline, you can greatly improve your health and happiness. I mitigate my joint pain with Bikram Yoga, one day per week. Between yoga and my diet, I am able to  recover from training runs which, 5 years ago, would have left me bedridden or hospitalized. While you may have no interest in pushing yourself that far, you can still benefit from the same methods I use.

I hope this message finds you well... and I hope you will consider some of these suggestions. I created this blog to talk about things like this for my friends and family. And, because I truly want to share the knowledge I have gained through my lifestyle choices.

Your friend,


1 comment:

  1. A couple of weeks ago now, Jerry took the time to work with me and my family regarding nutrition and embracing a more organic/vegan lifestyle. I have to admit that the difference that I have been feeling has been incredible! I have reverted a few times and have "paid" for it, further convincing me that I am on the right path. My wife and children are coming along also eating more and more fruits and veggies. My wife is most fond of the vegetable juices that I have been making for her.

    So far I have lost about 15 pounds and am pretty stable for the moment. I feel better than I have in a long, long time!

    Additionally I believe that my running is improving quicker that it ever would have with the old "diet" lifestyle that I had maintained for years and years. One thing that I do still struggle with a bit is planning ahead so that I always have the fruits and veggies or replacement products that I need to get through each day.

    I will be posting a recipe for corn chowder that I "veganized". I think it is pretty good. LOL My wife and kids are not quite as fond of it. When I get it typed up I will share it.

    Enjoy the journey!