Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.

Mark's Daily Apple

8 May

The Secret to Health & Longevity: Are You Following the 10/90 Rule?

I have a little saying: if you’re doing 10 things right, you’re 90 per cent of the way there.

The details are important, of course. Potatoes and broccoli are both vegetables, but the green stuff is a lot better for you. Walking and taking a kick-boxing class are both heart-pumping activities, but you’ll get a lot more out of the class. Knowing the “details” of nutrition and fitness is challenging and rewarding. Knowing the details can also be completely overwhelming at times! Just when you think you “know” something is healthy – low-fat milk, for example – along comes some health expert like yours truly who says, “Bring on the butter!” Thanks, Mark.

Today I’m going to let you in on my little 10/90 rule. If you’re doing the following 10 things, you’re already 90 per cent there. (And by there, I mean on the road to good health for many years to come.) I’m not saying the details aren’t still important – they are. The details often mean the difference between good and great. But the details change. As we continually learn more, we must constantly adjust.

So start with the 10/90.

These are my 10 healthy things, but I’d argue that if you’re doing 10 healthy anythings, you can’t help but come out ahead of the pack. Way ahead! So many people never work out, always eat processed and fast food meals, slurp soda all day and alcohol all night, never get a handle on the stressful factors in their lives, and never deal with negative issues in their lives, either. And that’s the norm.

Try 10 to be 90. (An A- ain’t too shabby.)

10. Move Daily

I work out for 45-60 minutes nearly every day. Whether it’s beach sprints or resistance training, I never skip exercise. To me, the idea of avoiding exercise is like not brushing your teeth. Gross, huh? So is not exercising. The leaner and stronger you get, the better you feel – and the longer you’ll live.

Key point: not only will you live longer, you’ll live longer without disease. The last thing I want is to be 75 on six meds and chained to a walker. So I take major action to avoid that. But even if you get out and walk for 20 minutes, or stretch every morning, some type of daily movement to get your blood flowing and your muscles lively is the right idea. The more, the better, obviously.

9. Drink to Lighten Up

I’m not talking about beer here – although that’s certainly one way to lighten up. I mean liquids that literally purify and lighten you. Water is an obvious one, but I’m not that strict about it. (I swear, I’m really not that hard core. Although I readily admit to having a hard core.*) Some days I have very little water – I just don’t bother with the “rules” of water intake. Drink when you’re thirsty. It seems to work very well for cats and dogs.

I’m also not opposed to caffeine. Coffee and tea are healthy and provide antioxidants. But whatever you do, just avoid the liquids that fatten, depress and numb you (soda, smoothies, juices, milkshakes, cocktails). Drink stuff that’s going to keep you light and refreshed.

8. Eat Green Stuff at Every Meal

I don’t care if it’s broccoli, salad, spinach, brussels sprouts or kale – if you’re eating something green at every single meal, you’re on the right track. Only about 1 in 4 Americans eat anything beside potatoes and ketchup on a daily basis, so if you commit to ruthlessly slaughtering plants as a way of life, you’re going to be healthier than just about everyone. Far more important than how many meals you eat, or when, or how much, is eating green stuff every time. It’s easy to keep calories low and blood sugar in check if you do this.

7. Hey, Meatasaurus: Choose Your Protein Wisely

Clean, lean…cruel? It’s up to you and your personal level of comfort. I recently wrote about the trouble with meat of all kinds. Everyone has to find their own fit when it comes to clean, lean, cruelty-free protein sources, but one thing that applies to everyone is this: avoid processed protein. The backbone of the American diet – bacon, pepperoni, sausage, ham, hamburger meat, deli meat – is also a very effective nail in the coffin. (Note: soy is also a processed protein.) This is by far one of the most important aspects of health. Processed meat and excellent health don’t go together. Ever.

6. Don’t Eat Processed Foods

This could easily be rules 9 through 1. Move daily and avoid processed foods, and you’re literally doing what the vast majority of Americans don’t do.

I always say (along with every self-help guru) that doing what you’ve always done and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. People waste their lives waiting to live. They hope to be healthy, they dream of better bodies, they wish for greater health, they itch for fulfillment. But they don’t make changes. Insanity.

A good rule of thumb is to look around at what people usually do, and do the opposite. Americans eat processed foods. Wanna be healthy? Don’t eat processed foods.

5. Have Fun!

Yesterday I made a quick case for the need to party. It’s vitally important to good health. Go have fun! Cheerful people are healthier. Simply enjoying your life will cover a multitude of forgotten antioxidant smoothies and canceled appointments with the therapist.

4. Love Somebody (you)

Whether it’s a pet, your kids, your spouse, your best friend or your parents, make sure to foster loving, trusting relationships. At the end of your life, what’s more meaningful: knowing you shared love and made the most of life, or sitting around with a big pile of stuff? Take care of your body and your spirit so that you can really make the most of your relationships for years to come. That’s what life is all about, and it’s why we want health to begin with. Love doesn’t hurt, right? Love is the exact opposite of hurt. But we get used to hurting ourselves, and it spreads. There’s very little love anywhere, if you think about it. Look around – most people are hurting, not loving.

If you’re hurting yourself (not loving yourself) by being unhealthy in some way, how can you ever expect to experience love with anyone?

3. Find a Pillow You Can Drool On

I’m not really a big fan of the whole 8 hours of shut-eye rule. What’s more important is the quality of sleep. Invest in a bed and a pillow you look forward to crashing into every night. I’d rather spend 100 bucks on a great pillow than on a pair of jeans. This is one of those things I’d even recommend using a credit card for. Normally, I don’t advocate spending beyond your means, but 6 or 7 hours of quality sleep every night (or 8, if you can) will add years to your life and keep the wrinkles at bay.

2. Be the Boss: Let Things Go

You are in charge of your soul – no one else. How are you going to care for it? One of the most important things you can do to ensure longevity and good health is to trust yourself enough to let things go. (Sounds weird at first, but think about it.)

For one thing, studies actually show that moving on makes you live longer. But “moving on” isn’t about repressing emotions (unhealthy) or playing “tough guy” with yourself (denial). Bad things happen and it takes time to grieve them and work through all sorts of negative emotions. By all means, give yourself all the time you need. You’ll know when it’s time to let go (and don’t beat yourself up if you take longer than others). You’re the boss, after all!

“Fidelity to self” is a maxim I live by (thanks, Marcus Aurelius). Have faith in yourself in all things, and moving on will be possible. In fact, I think that this is the only way to move on and get the most from life. If you give your personal authority over to others – even experts and those with good intentions – it will be much harder to let go and move on.

I believe that many times we “get stuck” in the wake of something negative because we’re not trusting ourselves enough to lead ourselves out of it – we submit that power to someone else. When you make yourself C.E.O., your soul becomes free, and the bad stuff just dissipates in its proper time, as it should. But most people never do this, because it takes a massive leap of faith. We’re conditioned to cheat on ourselves, essentially, by giving our personal authority to others. As the soul dies, so goes the body.

1. Bad stuff happens. Rejoice!

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – was it Nietzsche who first said this? It’s really true. You all know that I am a big believer in reducing stress. Whether from the inflammatory free radicals in processed foods, the pollution and noise in our environment, or the fast-paced nature of our lives, stress is stress. Aging is essentially stress. That said, a little stress is actually good for you. Think of how we prune rosebushes and trees every year, only to see them grow back fuller and stronger. When you get pruned by life, realize that it’s an opportunity to grow. You’ll be stronger for it.

So there you have it. The 10/90 plan for a healthy, long life. It’s not too hard, is it? Move around, eat green stuff, drink liquids, don’t eat processed stuff, have fun, love somebody (start on yourself), spend some quality time with your pillow, be your own boss, and be glad that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

What do you think?

Previous Tuesday 10 Posts

* Bad fitness joke (guilty as charged)

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7 May

Monday: Evidently a Great Day to Melt

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites

Before we Bees expire from the sudden SoCal heat, Apples, we’ve brought you the best of the batch from today’s news and studies. Glaciers aren’t the only things melting around here. Where’s a walk-in freezer when you need one?

Redefining Risotto

Not that you health smarties would ever make pasta a part of your daily routine, but be warned: Target’s pasta is sauced in salmonella. Wait, Target sells pasta now? Where have we been?


This is J. Reed’s Flickr Photo

A Case for Starvation, Part 2

Strict calorie reduction: one of those very touchy, politically incorrect subjects bobbing about in health studies lately. Naturally…we’re all over it.

Want to live longer? Don’t eat much.

Food for thought: who says we need to eat three, or four, or six meals a day, every day, religiously? Why do we codify sensible health knowledge into bedrock health fundamentals not even kung fu masters could smash through? (Let alone Chuck Norris.) Will the world end if you don’t follow the three-meal-a-day rule? Will pigs fly if one day you drink two glasses of water and the next day you drink seven? Why do we like being bossed around like grade schoolers rules so much? Maybe the great philosophers were right. Maybe humans will do anything but think. Okay, enough pondering. We’re going to go dunk ourselves in a bucket of ice now. How’s the weather in your neighborhood?

Whole Grain Shenanigans

This study is incredibly irritating. First, no one ruled out other possible factors that would contribute to better cardiovascular health. Secondly, the results were based on questionnaires the folks filled out themselves. And thirdly, the reduction in heart attack risk was merely associative. But you can bet the cereal makers of America are going to brag about a bowl of sugar flakes saving you from a heart attack with more zeal than the dairy industry brags about milk being a “proven” weight reducer…

…of two whole pounds…in some people…in a study funded by Big Moo.

Yet what do we see all over magazines and television? Low-fat dairy makes you skinny. And now, Big Agra – er, cereal – keeps you from getting heart disease! They should just hop into a bowl together and save everyone’s health! Ooh, ooh, we know – how about cereal in milk? That will save everyone’s health and make them skinny! Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?!

cereal 1

This is Peter Allen’s Flickr Photo

Thanks for the kudos!

Disclaimer: Flickr members graciously share their photos – so be sure to click the links to see their other works! They may not necessarily agree with or endorse the views expressed here at Mark’s Daily Apple.

7 May

You Read It Here: Partying Is Healthy

A Monday Moment

Are you partying enough?

I’m serious.

As adults, we get so wrapped up in responsibilities to career, parents, colleagues, employees, children and community, we forget that life is a game we’re meant to play. I’m not suggesting you shirk your duties as a man or woman, but remember that life is to be lived now, not someday.

I stumbled onto a thoughtful post by Brian Vaszily about the number one social problem facing adults in an increasingly isolated, technology-driven society: loneliness. I believe he’s right. No amount of exercise, good nutrition or healthy habits can add up to much if you aren’t enjoying yourself and spending a little time each day – or at least each week – with folks you really care about.

Remember that having a neighborhood cookout, meeting up with friends for a cocktail or light dinner, or hosting a backyard pool party are healthy – in fact, I’d say necessary – activities for a balanced adult life. Kids need play. But guess what? So do grown-ups. So go on, party – it’s healthy.

In fact, I’m gonna go catch some sun now. Make room for fun this week – go on, get outta here! That’s an order!

7 May

Ye Ole Weekly Health Challenge

This week’s challenge:

Increase your flexibility. You know you should. I’m not a betting man, but I’d be willing to be at least, say, a dollar that you’re not as flexible as you could be. This week, spend five or ten minutes a day stretching and releasing any muscle tension that’s been building up. Stretching is vital for your circulation, your nerves and supporting tissues, your brain, and even your emotions. It should really be required. Spend five minutes doing some basic stretching and you’ll feel refreshed, relaxed and energized. And it’s free!

Stretching your torso and hips reduces water retention and is even proven to flush toxins and emotional tension from your body. Stretching is beneficial to your skin, as well. (It can even help clear up acne – so tell your teenager. Note from the battlefield: gently.)

You can try sitting cross-legged with your back straight while pressing down firmly on your knees to release major tension in your hips. Or hang from the staircase (no, not really). Do it however you like, but do it! Stretch and prosper. And guys, that means you, too. We like to skip the stretching, but it’s really important.

4 May

The Plastic of Our Lives

Grocery stores are strange places full of even stranger food packaging concepts. Here’s some food for thought edible substance for cerebration (pitifully-unsuccessful-avoidance-of-pun alert):

Have you noticed how plastic continues to pop up in all sorts of food packaging? We all know that plastic comes from a limited resource; producing, trashing and even recycling plastic all have unpleasant consequences. And when it comes to health, it’s questionable if we want things like thalates in the same hemisphere as our food, let alone the same room.

Still, plastic persists: convenience remains the crowning virtue. (Although, in my opinion, the “convenience” of plastic packaging is still up for debate. This excessive layering is responsible for at least one post-gym “I need to eat!” meltdown per month by yours truly. Layering in fashion is one thing, but in food packaging? We don’t take food snowboarding with us, nor does food need to brave the indoor-outdoor urban trotting of a winter trip to the East Coast. Is this really necessary?)

But, truthfully, I hadn’t given much thought to things like these little plastic cap switcheroos…


Until I learned that there’s a permanent Texas-sized carpet of debris lolly-gagging around the Pacific Ocean’s northern gyre. Just call it Patchwork Pacific.



(These images are not to scale.)

This really bugs me. In light of our current health and environmental concerns, things like this new Kraft product are totally ridiculous!

I know we’re all working hard and we’re busy, but do we need to be throwing away millions of plastic shredders that come attached to our cheese? I actually liked shredding my parmesan with my own shredder – you know, one that you don’t throw away with each block of cheese. I’m not saying I counted it as a workout or anything, but is it that inconvenient to retain ownership of a shredder that’s not physically attached to my Manchego? Is the extra arm movement required to open the drawer really so exhausting that Kraft feels they’re doing us a favor? Was this a gaping void in the marketplace of which I was unaware?

What do you all think? Perhaps your editor is being too critical of “food” marketers (using-term-generously alert). Perhaps the days I skipped macroeconomics as a slacker college student are coming back to bite me after all these years. (Darn that Professor Carter!) Enlighten me, Kraft!

Until the next shopping adventure, friends…

(Psst: just before hitting “Publish” I ran a quick Google search and found this very sensible review from the Accidental Hedonist, so I’m relieved to find I’m not the only one who thinks this product is both asinine and wasteful.)

© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple

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