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Friday, September 25, 2015

Reasons why the National Guard can and should support cycling among its members

Reasons why the National Guard can and should support cycling among its members
By:  Michael Lander

The Tennessee Air National Guard (TNANG) in Memphis formed
its cycling team in 2009 for the purpose of raising money for
charitable causes.  (Photo:  Lt Col (Ret) Jim Hall)

It would probably not seem like there would be any connection, what-so-ever, between cycling and the active duty military and the Army and Air
National Guard, but there are some good reasons why there should be.

The National Guard has long prided itself in living up to its motto of “
Always ready, always there,” and the men and women of the National Guard have always been ready, willing, and able to answer the call whenever they have been needed during emergencies and disasters and to defend and protect the U.S.

Cycling teams, like the one that members of the Air National
Guard in Memphis formed, provided them with an
opportunity to train and ride together for a common
cause while promoting the unit at the same time.
(Photo:  Lt Col (Ret) Jim Hall)

There are many factors that come into play that enable the men and women of the National Guard to be able to accomplish their wide-ranging mission.  Cycling could possibly be one of the better ways to physically and mentally prepare them to be able to do this.

Over the last decade, cycling has become one of the many ways that some of our
wounded warriors coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan have been able to find the rehabilitative and the therapeutic benefits of it for both their minds and bodies.

Cycling can be a rehabilitative and therapeutic activity for
those who have experienced injuries and it can be good
for the mind and body for all who do it.
(Photo:  Lt Col (Ret) Jim Hall)

Given that, it really is not a stretch to think that cycling could also be something that all of our National Guard soldiers and airmen could also benefit from and it should be something that the National Guard itself should begin promoting and encouraging their members to do.

In the post 9/11 world that we live in today, members of the National Guard have had to assume an even greater and more prominent role where they have had to step up, fill in, and augment the mission that was once only expected of their active duty counterparts.

With increased emphasis on physical fitness, cycling can
help members of the National Guard to reach the
standards that they are required to meet.
(Photo:  Lt Col (Ret) Jim Hall)
  
With that change, the pressing need for National Guard troops to be physically fit and fully qualified for worldwide duty has become even greater, and cycling can be one of the best ways to promote physical fitness and good health. 

Cycling can also provide a less tangible, but no less important, service in fostering and promoting team-building and camaraderie among those who do ride. 

Being able to work in unison with one another is essential to having successful military organizations with servicemen and women who are able to efficiently and effectively carry out their mission.  Cycling can help to further reinforce these relationships and instill the value of working more closely together for a common goal.

Cycling teams in the National Guard could help to foster and
promote team-building and camaraderie.
(Photo:  Lt Col (Ret) Jim Hall)

In addition to helping inspire a sense of camaraderie, cycling can also be a way of bringing unit members together, along with their families, and even those who once served, but are now retired.

Having cycling teams within the various Army and Air National Guard units can also be a great recruiting tool that could potentially bring interest and attention to a unit if members of their unit’s team can compete at the local, state, or national level.  

Cycling teams can also help to establish a greater presence and involvement in the community, especially if the rides are in support of fundraising efforts for charitable causes.

Having cycling teams can be a great recruiting tool for the
National Guard, especially when members participate at
competitive events at the local, state, or national level.
(Photo:  Lt Col (Ret) Jim Hall)
 
To make this happen, the National Guard Bureau must begin to see the value of cycling and they should find ways to endorse it. 

Cycling can be a very expensive activity, from the bicycles, to cycling gear and team jerseys.  If the National Guard is not able to help with some of the out-of-pocket expenses associated with cycling, the least that they could do is to give some form of support or by creating a policy that is favorable to those personnel who are interested in doing it. 

It is not unreasonable that the National Guard could offer some form of support (possibly even through some
appropriated or non-appropriated funding) since, under its former director Lt. Gen. William Ingram, Jr., they did, after all, sponsor NASCAR and Indy racers from 2008 to 2015 with $48 million in 2014 alone.

Athletic teams, like those for cycling, can provide an opportunity
for an enormous amount of pride for the individual National
Guard units who have members who can represent
them during competitive and even non-competitive events.
(Photo:  Lt Col (Ret) Jim Hall)

All of this, of course, was done under the auspices of recruiting, which, from all accounts, may not have yielded any appreciable results for the amount of money that was spent.

Unlike this type of expenditure, though, cycling teams have the potential of yielding a lot more, and it would be an actual investment in the lives, health, and fitness of its members.

Currently, there is a
U.S. Armed Forces Cycling Team that is the official team representing the United States Armed Forces in national and international competitions. It is the approved cycling team of the Department of Defense.

There is a U.S. Armed Forces and an Air Force Cycling Team,
which National Guard members can join, but they and
their units may benefit more if their units established
cycling teams of their own.
(Photo:  Lt Col (Ret) Jim Hall)

The Air Force also has a cycling team that is comprised of active-duty Air Force, Reserve, National Guard, and Air Force civilian riders whose main goal and purpose, according to their mission statement, is to "promote the Air Force in the most positive way possible using cycling as a way to display 'wingmanship' and fitness."

Outside military circles, many businesses have established cycling teams themselves and there is no reason that National Guard units cannot do the same.  By having these teams, it would give the National Guard an opportunity to have some of their finest men and women out representing their units to the rest of the world.

Cycling requires a tremendous amount of training and
preparation, which National Guard personnel are
accustomed to since training, preparedness, and
readiness is an integral part of their military
service.
(Photo:  Lt Col (Ret) Jim Hall)

The National Guard has its origins in the
first militia regiments in North America that were organized in Massachusetts in 1636 to defend the colony.  From this, the National Guard was born.

From its inception, members of the National Guard have voluntarily served and protected their communities.  Today, they are there to help with local emergencies and disasters and, when called upon, have joined their active duty counterparts to defend the nation from the time of the Revolutionary War to the threat of terrorism that we now face.

Cycling teams afford National Guard units, and their members,
with an opportunity to be out in their communities and to
have a positive impact by participating in charitable events.
(Photo:  Lt Col (Ret) Jim Hall)

When most of us think about the Air and Army National Guard, we might think of our men and women who render aid during local emergencies and disasters and who serve and defend our country. 

Perhaps one day we will also see them out in their communities on bicycles, reaching out, raising money for good causes, and proudly representing the oldest military organization in the U.S. in a new and distinctively unique way.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Shelby Farms Park will have a completely new look and feel for visitors within a year

Shelby Farms Park will have a completely new look and feel for visitors within a year
By:  Michael Lander

The Shelby Farms Greenline currently ends at the intersection
of Farm and Mullins Station Rd, but 4.1 miles will be added
within the next year taking it to a former railroad depot in
Cordova, Tenn.

Shelby Farms Park is undergoing a major facelift, but what is being done there is more than just cosmetic.

The $52 million facelift, or remodeling project, that’s currently underway on this extremely popular Memphis area park, will provide visitors with brand new facilities, amenities, attractions, more scenic vistas, ecological restoration and enhancements, and extended paved trails.

For pedestrians and cyclists, the biggest improvement will include a
4.1 mile expansion to the east on the Shelby Farms Greenline, which will connect a former railroad depot in Cordova to where the greenline currently ends at the intersection of Farms and Mullins Station Rd.


Much of the earthwork currently underway at Shelby Farms
Park involves a complete redevelopment and re-sizing of
Patriot Lake, which will be the centerpiece of what is
being billed as the "Heart of the Park."

This extension will directly connect Shelby Farms to even more communities to the east of it.  And, after the
Wolf River Greenway is extended 18.4 miles to downtown Memphis by mid-2018, people will eventually be able to walk, run, or ride their bikes from nearby Memphis municipalities, over the Harahan Bridge, to West Memphis, Ark. and beyond on a seemingly endless network of trails.

The park will also have two new 2.34 mile paved trails around Patriot Lake, one of which will be a faster track for bicycles.  The lake, itself, is undergoing extensive changes and will nearly double in size and it will experience an
ecological restoration effort in the process.

After the work is completed at Patriot Lake, two 2.34 mile
trails will loop around and will run alongside it with one
for cyclists and another for pedestrians.

Patriot Lake will be the crown jewel in what Shelby Farms Park has labeled as its Heart of the Park initiative.  The Heart of the Park will be an active and playful centerpiece unlike anything that the park has ever had in its long and storied history.

The
Heart of the Park will feature a First Tennessee Foundation Visitor Center, a FedEx Event Center with a kitchen restaurant, an event pavilion, a boat kiosk, an additional bike rental facility, and new lakeside pavilions or crickets with covered spaces for picnics, family reunions, parties, and gatherings at the edge of Patriot Lake.

Overlooking a newly redesigned Patriot Lake will be a brand
new visitor and event center, pavilions, and areas for people
to gather and to have picnics.

The park is in the second (blue phase) of a
four part renovation project that is expected to be fully completed by the fall of 2016.  The first (or green phase) is already finished and it included a new hiking and cycling trail.  The blue phase will see, among other things, a western expansion of Patriot Lake and a bike and pedestrian connection restored around James Pond.

Under the third (orange phase), construction will be completed on the visitor center, the event center, the kitchen restaurant, the phase 3 lake trails, and the second bike rental facility.

The Shelby Farms Greenline project is currently underway
with the railroad tracks removed and the surface leveled
out, but not yet paved.  This is a view near the Mullins
Station and Whitten Rd intersection, looking west.

The fourth (purple phase) will put the finishing touches to the multi-year project and will include replenishing Patriot Lake.

After all is said and done, by the fall of 2016, Shelby Farms Park will be more user and visitor-friendly than ever before.  Cyclists, and others, will have a place to stop and eat, a better place to ride, an ever-expanding access to the park via a bicycle, more bicycles to rent, and new and improved trails for pedestrians and cyclists alike.

Even with all the construction work going on at the park these days, it is still a great place to ride through with only a minimal amount of areas that are blocked off because of the work that is being done there.

Shelby Farms Park is experiencing a complete remodeling
with new facilities, attractions, and more scenic vistas
overlooking a completely redesigned Patriot Lake.

Click here for on-going construction and possible detour information.

None of this should be enough to deter bike riders from riding to and through the park.  While there, they can see the park as it takes shape and see it being transformed into what will ultimately be a premier recreational and entertainment oasis in the heart of our magnificent and thriving city.

To see a video of what Shelby Farms Park and the Heart of the Park will look like after all of the work is done,
click here.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Reflections of my life of cycling after eight years of riding

Reflections of my life of cycling after eight years of riding
By:  Michael Lander

The FedEx Rock-n-Roll MS-150 bike ride was what got me
to start riding in 2007.  I have done eleven of these since
then and have found many more reasons to love riding
a bike from that time on.

After a 27-year hiatus, I returned to riding a bicycle once again a little over eight years ago.

I rode a lot as a child and, to a lesser degree, I continued to ride as a teenager, but after enlisting in the Air Force, I stopped and I did not return to it until I was within three years of retiring from an active duty military career that spanned a little over 28 years.

Eight years may not be a long time of riding, when compared to those who have spent a lifetime on a bicycle, but I have learned and experienced much in this very short period of time, and I have enjoyed reaching many of the goals that I have set for myself and sharing my journey and thoughts about cycling with others, and promoting something that I have really come to love.

I started back riding when I heard about a two-day, 150-mile bike ride for the
National Multiple Sclerosis Society in 2007.  My brother-in-law had done it the year before and the idea of doing such a ride seemed both exciting and challenging and I wanted to see if I could do it, too.

My brother-in-law, Steve Dodd (who is also known as Santa
Steve) is the one who got me interested in riding and doing
the MS-150 bike rides in 2007.  We have done many of
these rides together, both in Memphis and in Ohio.

Of course, the ride took on more significance for me when I actually met people who had MS and, after that, it was no longer just a bike ride, but it became a cause that I felt even more compelled to support by making others aware of it by riding.

Fast-forward to today, and on 12 and 13 September 2015, I completed my eleventh 150-mile bike ride for the MS Society.  I have done seven of these rides in Memphis and four in Ohio and, thus far, I’ve raised a total of $6,887.75.

From that first MS-150 bike ride until today, my motivation to ride has been to support charitable organizations that have included not only the MS Society, but also the
American Cancer Society, the Wounded Warriors, the Shriners Hospitals for Children, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
 
Along the way, I have also found many other reasons to ride, like just for the pure enjoyment of it, to remain physically fit, to get around, and to do something that can allow me some quiet time alone.  It can also be something that I can have fun doing with others.

Ascending "The Wall" may be one of the biggest challenges
for cyclists during the FedEx Rock-n-Roll MS-150.  The
volunteers who work the rest stops and who greet you at
the top of "The Wall" and at the finish lines are what
makes this ride as great as it is.

Throughout all this, I have learned more about myself and my body than almost anything else that I have ever done before.  I have also found out what my limitations are, I discovered just how much pain and discomfort that I can actually tolerate, and what works and what doesn’t work for me.

The biggest reward of all for me has been sharing with others what I’ve experienced and learned about cycling and helping to get others out and riding, themselves.

To stay at it, I have continually set new goals for myself.  My first one was to do
my first 150-mile bike ride and to climb “The Wall” for the MS Society, and I did that on 8-9 September 2007.
 
My second goal was to do a century (100 mile) ride, which I did during a MS-150 ride in Ohio on 14 August 2011.  I wanted to do even more than just a century and I did just that when I rode 140 miles in a 24-hour period during the 2014 St. Jude Bike Ride on 26-27 September 2014.

Charitable bike rides, like the MS-150's, are just one of many
reasons why I ride, but they are one of the most rewarding
since they raise awareness and much-need money for
causes that I care about most.

After that, I aimed for my biggest goal yet and on 23 August 2015 I officially reached it by riding 24,901.55 miles, which happens to be the same distance as the circumference of the earth (at the equator).  It only took me eight years and five months to accomplish that feat.

As happy as I have been with what I have been able to do, my cycling hasn’t necessarily always been an easy thing for me to do.  I have battled neck and back problems (bulging discs and all) and arthritis in my right knee, but I have never let this stop me and I never will.  The feeling that I get after a good, hard ride greatly exceeds any pain and discomfort that I might have throughout it.

On 15 September 2013,
I did suffer a serious injury when I fell from my bike, dislocating and shattering my left elbow.  I ended up having to have surgery and having my elbow replaced and tendons reattached, along with over three months of physical therapy.  But as bad as that was, it was the goal of returning to riding that got me through all this and, on 11 January 2014, I was back to riding again.  Since then (and as of 15 September 2015), I have ridden 6,406.34 miles.

Setting new goals, like finishing a long-distance bike ride, have
been a big part of my experience in cycling over the last
eight years.  Sharing everything that I learn from
bicycling, and promoting the benefits of it, is as
important to me as what I personally get out of it, myself.

Since I took up cycling eight years ago, I have created a
cycling website as a way to give back to the Memphis community, and I created a cycling blog to provide more in-depth stories and articles that I hope will both help and inspire others to ride.
 
In reflecting over the past eight years, I absolutely have no regrets about the road that I have traveled, and I can’t think of a better way to move forward toward the future than on my bicycle.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Phikamphon is a man who loves cycling and who lives, works and travels by bicycle in Copenhagen

Phikamphon is a man who loves cycling and who lives, works and travels by bicycle in Copenhagen
By:  Michael Lander

Like so many who live in Copenhagen, Phikamphon loves cycling
and he has been riding as far back as he can remember.  He
especially loves spending time with his wife, Angkhana, and
their two daughters and riding together as a family.

Mads Phikamphon is one of five people behind
Icebike.org and he is from Denmark’s capital city of Copenhagen. 

The city in which he has spent his entire life is known as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world where bicycles are said to outnumber those who live there and where at least
40 percent of the population commutes on a bicycle.

“Copenhagen is the ultimate bicycle-friendly city and almost everybody cycles here and a bike is often the easiest and fastest way to get around.  Commuting by bike is seen as a natural thing to do here.  It’s only if you live far outside the city that it might make sense to take a car, but even then there are still quite a few people who will bike 30 to 40 km or more,” Phikamphon said.

And a person’s age doesn’t matter all that much for those who chose to ride, according to Phikamphon.

“It’s not only young people who ride or commute by bike.  Everybody does it and it doesn’t seem to matter if someone is 20, 40, 60 or more years-old.  I have seen many people who continue biking even though they are 70 to 80 years-old,” Phikamphon said.

Copenhagen is a city that is renowned for its cycling and, for Phikamphon, that is because people of all ages embrace it, they see the value and the benefits of it, and they elect those who fully support and endorse it.

“It’s very important that there is political support for bikes and biking.  Most politicians here support bikes and 63 percent of the members of the parliament actually bike to work, themselves,” Phikamphon said.

Phikamphon's wife, Angkhana, and their two daughters are
in a Christiania bike that he painted for fun with teeth so
that it would resemble a shark.

Unlike many cities that abandoned the role that bicycles could play as a means of transportation,
Copenhagen, historically, continued to support and encourage cycling and the bike culture flourished, but there was a time when Phikamphon saw a possibility that everything could have unraveled and he believes that some of it still could.

“Things were about to go wrong in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, but the oil crisis luckily made sure that biking came back strong here in Denmark.  But, we still have problems and right now there is a big discussion going on about whether we should build a big car tunnel into and around Copenhagen, a car tunnel that will cost at least ten times as much as all the
super bike lanes that are planned here in the future,” Phikamphon said.

It is for this reason that Phikamphon supports any ongoing efforts to get people out of their cars and on bikes for what is known, in Copenhagen, as “Copenhagenisation.”

As much as bicycling currently dominates the cultural landscape of Copenhagen, Phikamphon is less certain of other cities, like those in the U.S., of quickly and fully adopting the same mindset that is as conducive to cycling as can be found in Copenhagen.

“I think the U.S. has two problems in relation to cycling.  First of all, cycling is seen as somewhat strange and dangerous and, secondly, there isn’t a lot of political support for cycling, but that doesn’t mean that the situation is hopeless.  Portland, Oregon has shown that changes can be made and that people will start cycling if the infrastructure is there for them,” Phikamphon said.

“The big question is whether people in the U.S. will actually elect the right politicians and thereby get political support for cycling.  It might happen at one point, but I think it will take many, many years before the U.S. becomes more like Denmark,” he said.

Until recently, Phikamphon's daughters often traveled
in the Christiania bike with a matching cargo carrier.

For Phikamphon and his fellow Copenhageners, automobiles take a definitive backseat to the bicycle.

“For most people, it’s not necessary to have a car even though some people have one without really needing it.  It has never crossed my mind to buy a car and I haven’t even got a driver’s license,” Phikamphon said.

There are many in Copenhagen like Phikamphon.  With a strong cycling infrastructure that includes over 400 km of dedicated bike lanes and traffic signal systems that are set up exclusively for cyclists, it is little wonder that people find cycling a reasonable and appealing option to get around.

“I love cycling because it is fun to ride a bike.  It’s not fun to commute by car and it’s also not that exciting to sit in a train or a bus either,” Phikamphon said.

Phikamphon’s involvement with the Icebike.org website was a natural progression for a man whose life has revolved around the bicycle.

“I ran a popular Danish cycling site (
cykelvalg.dk) that started to get attention from people outside of Denmark so I started looking into a good way to start an international cycling site.  I got in touch with John Andersen, who ran Icebike.org and he allowed me to restructure and continue the site,” Phikamphon said.

“Originally, Icebike.org focused only on biking on ice and snow, but I plan to cover all kinds of cycling on the site.  My mission, after all, is to promote all kinds of cycling and make more people stop driving and let go of their cars,” he added.

Currently, Phikamphon says that the site is mostly a blog, but that he and the rest of the staff are planning to add a lot more for people in the next month or so.

“I expect Icebike.org to grow like my Danish site did and become a useful resource for all kinds of cyclists because of both the blog and the things we are developing,” Phikamphon said.

Like any proud parents, the Phikamphons were elated as
each of their daughters was able to ride a bicycle without
support (training) wheels.

Phikamphon doesn’t just talk about cycling, and help manage a bicycling website, but he practices what he preaches.

“I bike almost every day.  I’m an IT consultant and many days I work from home, but when I go to my clients, I almost always bike,” Phikamphon said.

Phikamphon also enjoys every opportunity that he can find to ride with his family.

“When my wife, Angkhana, and I had children, we started out by transporting them on the back of our bikes.  Later, we brought a cargo bike and now they mostly bike on their own.  Last week, we went camping and I’m proud that our six and nine year-old daughters woke up and biked the 12 km home on their own bikes,” Phikamphon said.

As much as he loves a bicycle, Phikamphon is very open and receptive to various technological incarnations and modifications to the traditional bicycle.

“I have thought about buying an
electric bike for biking to my clients that are far away, but so far I have taken the train or a bus, when necessary, which I rarely do.  I have also tried a velomobile.  It’s a fantastic kind of bike for biking outside the cities, but it is a bit too big for getting around in inner Copenhagen where we live,” Phikamphon said.

Phikamphon has had a lifetime experience and love of cycling and he is not unlike most who live, work and travel in a city that is rightfully known as the capital of cycling in the world.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Weight loss and improved health rely on making the right choices daily

Weight loss and improved health rely on making the right choices daily
By:  Michael Lander

Health and fitness and diets fill our air time, print, and other
media and are an enormous revenue-generating industry in
the U.S.  When it comes to losing weight, much of the focus
seems to be on physical activity and exercise than on what
people should and shouldn't eat.

Nearly every day it seems like we are bombarded with thousands of advertisements, magazine articles, and news stories that focus on health and fitness and ways to lose weight. 

Much of what we see, read, and hear frequently offers quick and easy diet plans, workout regimens, equipment, devices, and even pills that promise to make us all thin and healthy, often with little or no effort on our part.
 
With convincing before and after images, we are told that if we just buy into whatever somebody is trying to sell us, we too can have bodies that we have dreamed of or had when we were younger.
 
Understandably, we are lured in by the hype and many of us have probably tried some of what we’ve seen and heard and have been left feeling disappointed with little or no appreciable results and with a little less money in our pockets afterwards.
 
In spite of all of the time and attention that is given to health and fitness and hundreds of different diets that we are told will help us lose weight, there has been no time in our history when so many in our nation have battled excessive weight and obesity.  Unfortunately, many of us are big and only getting bigger.

Even with all the time, attention, and money that is siphoned
off for weight loss, two-thirds of Americans are bigger
than ever and physical activity does not appear to be
enough to significantly alter these current trends.

Click here for a
2015 Time Magazine article on the soaring rates of overweight and obese Americans.

So, who or what is to blame?  The answer may not entirely be what you think.

We are often told that we are all to blame and that if we would only exercise more that we too can be fit and trim, but this may not be the whole truth.  One of the biggest culprits may actually be hiding in the food that we eat and we might not even know it.

For decades, we have been told that we should primarily concern ourselves with the fat content in our food and so the processed food industry provided us with low or fat free products for us to consume, but because that food became less palatable and tasty in the process, they substituted the fat with sugar.

At about the same time that food manufacturers were reconstituting the food that they created for us, they began to formulate their products into a potentially dangerous chemical cocktail with additives, preservatives, artificial flavoring, and coloring. 

Most of us have no idea what these added ingredients are and we might even find difficult to pronounce.  This has included things like
butylated hydroxytoluene, monosodium glutamate, sodium and potassium benzoate, partially hydrogenated oil, and high fructose corn syrup. 

Click on this link to read more about what
food additives that you should avoid.

It is often what is hidden in our foods that may be impacting
our health and our waistlines more than anything else in
our lives.

The fact that much of the food that we might be consuming isn’t exactly healthy and may be contributing to our bad health and weight gain isn’t something that most of us may be willing to readily to believe or accept. 

And, try as we might, we really cannot ignore the dangers that come with weight like back and joint pain, an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even cancer.

Click here to read more about the
health risks of being overweight.

My personal journey is probably not unlike many people who have encountered the problem of excessive weight gain, themselves.  I love to eat and the worse that the food is, the more I want it.  I especially crave anything sweet and by this past summer my waistline began to show it. 

Even though I was physically active and regularly rode a bicycle 30 to 40 miles every couple of days, I was bigger than I had ever been before and I tipped the scales at 191.5 pounds.

After coming to the realization that cycling alone was not going to be enough for me to shed the pounds, I began my diet on June 1, 2015.  My goal was to get down to 165 pounds.

My diet would be a simple one.  I would eat as little sugar and processed foods as possible and I would avoid eating out at fast food restaurants.  I wasn’t as concerned about the fat content as much as I was about the sugar.  Any sugar that I would eat would need to come from fruit and I wouldn’t include any sugar substitutes in my diet.

If the food that I consumed wasn’t natural, and it didn’t grow in a garden or it wasn’t raised on a farm, (preferably a local one), I would try not to eat it.

The Memphis area has about a dozen farmer's
markets, including one in Hernando, Miss.
where people can go to get healthier options
with locally grown produce and other
products from local area farmers.

Click here to find
farmer’s markets in the Memphis area.

I basically set out to do what some people refer to as “clean eating.”

Click here to learn more about
what “clean eating” is.

I wanted to eat produce that was organic and free of pesticides.  Any meat that I would eat would need to be free of antibiotics and hormones.

Losing weight was not easy for me, but I stuck to my diet and I never missed meals or ever tried to starve myself.  Doing that can wreak havoc on your body and, in the long run, it really isn't a sensible approach to weight loss.

By the first week of August, (approximately 90 days after I started), I reached my goal of losing 26 pounds and got down to 165 pounds.  After accomplishing this, I have now set a new goal to lose an additional 10 pounds.  That would put me back to a weight that I was in high school 35+ years ago.

Weight loss and improved health require making the right
choices of what you eat every day and it must become an
integral part of your life in order to reap the benefits of
it now and in the future.

Getting to a desired weight is really only half the battle, though, and the other half is maintaining it.  In order to do that, you must be vigilant about not overindulging and returning to the diet that got you into trouble in the first place.

Losing weight is not easy and it requires a certain amount of sacrifice so you don’t want to throw it all away just to end up back where you started. 

Weight loss and improved health relies on making the right choices every day of your life and then keeping at it even after you reach your initial goals.

To learn more about the hidden dangers in our food, you may want to watch the documentaries “
Fed Up” and “Food, Inc.