Sunday, January 13, 2013

Week 1: "Challenge" is an Understatement

I've completed the first week of the USANA RESET Challenge: Destination Transformation.

Starting weight: 233.2.  End weight: 232.2.  Loss: 1.0 pounds.
Measurement changes: none.

The average loss for the JumpStart phase is 4.5 pounds.  So, what happened?  Life happened.  The exact morning I started this, a high priority deadline came up.  Then a system emergency.  And another possible apocalypse, and another... most of them weren't real threats, but the alerts kept me on edge the whole week.  I picked a heck of a week to start this, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted to go get a double bacon cheeseburger with onion rings, Jamaican beef patties, and fish & chips - all at once, with Krispy Kreme for dessert.  Comfort foods, including primal gnawing-on-your-prey foods - exactly what got me into this mess to start with.  But I held fast, stuck with a Stage 2 (Transform) Phase program, and came out with what I think is a pretty good start.  It takes some imagination to picture the Oatmeal Raisin bar as your prey, but I made sure those oats don't know what hit them.

Except for Thursday, I maintained a daily regimen of two shakes, two snack bars and one meal of solid food.  OK, technically Friday too, but I can explain that.  On Thursday, Jeannie and I had an extraordinarily stressful day and just needed to get the heck out of Dodge for a while; I'd also had some very uncomfortable meetings that stressed me out and conflicted with my eating schedule.  So we went to Barrel of Crack (Cracker Barrel) and chose among their lesser-evil selections; I had grilled catfish with lighter-ish veggie sides: carrots and slaw.  I resisted the Hashbrown Casserole of HipGrowing+1.  I forget what Jeannie had; she'll blog about it on http://southernfriedtofu.blogspot.com

OK, so Friday, you see, it's the darndest thing*...  I woke up groggy as usual, having decided to work from home... because, by Thursday I was close to a Career Limiting Move (CLM).  I made the most amazing Egg Nog Nutrimeal recipe... and completely forgot the Nutrimeal - didn't even notice it for hours.  Because of that, I was more hungry even after my snack, and Jeannie said maybe I needed solid food... so I had a Lean Cuisine type pasta frozen lunch.  300 calories, solid, should work, right?  Sort of, but I still felt 'off.'  I went to go make my dinner shake and found the Vanilla Nutrimeal packet there unopened.  That explained it.  I've been able to go 75-90% liquid before, but only if I keep the blood sugar levels guided by a steady, calculated regimen.  The reason I'm choosing something like USANA's program is that they've calculated it for me... no artificial sweeteners or weird fat-burning/blocking herbs.  And unlike the SlimFast diet that I tried five years ago, I can hang with this for weeks at a time.

On the physical activity front... I officially started my Tai Chi class at the Shaolin Institute.  Monday and Wednesday evenings I get what most would call a mild upper body workout, but remember, I sit at a PC all day - the most my arms move is from keyboard to mouse to coffee cup.  Between that, the ultra-slow Tai Chi Walk that develops fine balance, and the "horse stance" ... ow, yes, I'm pushing my comfort zone.  We're also working on meditation and breathing.  Monday was a tremendous benefit, and I came home all kinds of chilled out (stress level 3 on a 10 scale).  Wednesday, in order to get to class I had to leave a work apocalypse in progress (so glad I have a team to back me) and my stress level was probably 8.  I think class reduced my stress down to 5, and the breathing techniques helped the next day.  I think I may need to add some snack calories or Rev3 to help out my energy in Tai Chi, but before I do that, I'll ask some people who know this stuff better. 




So looking back at the week as a whole: It was a pretty rough week, but I still had a net loss.  I didn't cave, give up and say "F it."  I added to the positive things, and reduced the negative.  I call that a win.


There's still room in the RESET Challenge for my friends.  If you want to join and have a chance at the $200,000 prize pool, just let me know.  You can still win prizes if you join halfway through, but your chances are best if you start early.

* Guatemalan friends, "it's the darndest thing" is Southern for "fijese."


[Compliance wants me to include this so they don't get sued]

*These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Individual results may vary. RESET weight-management system lowers your daily caloric intake and recommends moderate exercise for best results. Typical results are 4.5 lbs in five days.

It is suggested that you take these products to your physician and secure his/her advice if you intend to change your diet, begin an exercise program, are pregnant or lactating, have allergies, are taking medications, or are under the care of a physician.

Children under the age of 18 should not participate in the RESET program, except on the advice of their physician and/or dietician.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Year, New Challenge

It's 2013, everyone.  New Year's Resolution Time is upon us, and among the most common resolutions is to lose weight.  Why is that?  As you'll see below, we're not very good at fixing the problem.  We hope someone else will solve it for us:  a cure for diabetes and obesity will surely be found in a pill or injection, right? 

We're doing it wrong.  It's not for medical science to cure.  We already have the cure - and we're in denial, individually and collectively.  I won't tell you what the cure is; you've read it before a thousand times.  It's the one you're avoiding like I did for the first 35 years of my life.  I'll tell you later in this post what I'm doing to fix it, and I hope that you'll see that it's worth the effort for yourself.  You're welcome to join me.

Spend a few minutes looking at these images, and remember this is just the adults being counted - the childhood obesity epidemic among kids aged 2-4 is even scarier. 


Source: CDC   Percentage of obese (BMI > 30) adults:







Obesity is an epidemic, and for so many reasons I won't go into, this is absolutely a national emergency.  It's time for us to take personal responsibility and fix ourselves, a decision I made almost four years ago.  If you've read my blog before, you'll know the health issues that started my journey, my successes, and a few of my failures.  I'm a little more vocal on Facebook - including my eating habits, including photos of some amazing food I come across.  It's a Facebook thing - you post kittens, I post chicken.  A few of my "friends" have called me a hypocrite for being health-minded and eating burgers.  How about calling me "human" instead - you think I went 35 years as a hardcore carnivore and will stop cold?  No, if it were that easy, the 2010 chart would look like 1985. 

In 1986, when I was 12, I would come home from school, go to Subway, get a footlong double-meat sub with extra mayo, go to the Frozen Yogurt place next door, get 8 ounces of yogurt topped with most of what they offered, and eat all of that in my room while playing computer games.  Two hours later, the call for dinner would bring me to the table full of steaks, burgers, carbs, chicken, buttery sauces... and yes, I'd somehow eat it too.  I weighed 120+ pounds at age 12.  I should have been about 90 pounds per this CDC chart.  This continued into my adult life... in 1997 I would eat a Whopper at Burger King nearly every day for lunch and dinner.. and a Croissanwich if I could find the time for breakfast.  Add in 32-40 ounces of soda (it was only 40 cents more, a real bargain!) and we're looking at 1,000-1,500 calories per meal.  So, as you can tell, I love food.

What I have done so far in the past four years:  I've stopped eating out at McWendyKing... after seeing what they do to ground beef, it horrified me.  I noticed I felt better within weeks.  I have adapted to eating whole grains, lower-fat meats and lesser quantities of them.  I used to eat a pound of steak in a sitting; now, if I order a 9 ounce steak it's to have leftovers for lunch the next day.  I add vegetables... forget what's a good veggie and a bad veggie... it's not meat, that's a huge step in the right direction.  I have reduced my cola and soft drink intake by about 95% (no artificial sweeteners - they hurt my head).  I've started doing a lot of research into what I'm eating - ingredients, protein/carb/fiber ratios, and more.  I know how to do this, but again, I'm human and fall backwards once in a while.

So the challenge is consistency and commitment.  Here's what I'm going to do.  USANA has a 12 week weight-loss competition called the RESET Challenge: Destination Transformation, starting January 7.  Full immersion in the challenge is adherence to the RESET program.  Details are at the link, but basically, replace most of your meals with the Nutrimeal shakes (I've got a few blog posts about them - they rock), include snack bars on a schedule, take the vitamins and eat healthy for the remainder; physical activity is encouraged but no specific program is dictated. This is the same program I used and lost 52 consecutive pounds before - even while I ate out once in a while.  It's not about starvation, it's about moderation and training yourself to make smart choices when real life happens.  At the end of the 12 weeks, I hope to lose about 30 pounds of fat and gain a few pounds of muscle.  I currently weigh 233.2 pounds.  If I lose 31 pounds, I will be officially no longer "obese" - a label I have held for over 20 years.  That is an attainable goal, and that is motivation.  Once I reach that goal, I will continue a reasonable path towards a healthy weight. 

Starting today, every Sunday I will take measurements of my weight, chest, arms, belly, waist, and legs.  I will not obsess over a pound or two.  I will not measure daily - that would just screw with my mind.  I will, however, blog about my weekly experience.  This is to help me through public accountability, and to hopefully help at least one of you make the same choice - to improve your health, through whatever means you prefer.

An important part of any weight management program is physical activity.  Yesterday I signed up for a year of tai chi classes at the Shaolin Institute here in Mobile.   Because my health has improved over the last few years, I'm going to attempt kung fu as well... they're going to try me on a combined tai chi / kung fu program and let me work up from 'level negative potato.'   For another stretch goal, I'll aim to be able to walk up 9 flights of stairs at my office by April - without much strain.

It gets better:  My wife Jeannie has challenged me to a duel.  While I'm working the RESET angle, she's taking her approach: trying to adhere to a vegan diet in the South.  Her blog Southern Fried Tofu should be pretty entertaining.  Adding to the fun, I've agreed to follow her vegan ways as much as possible for the home-cooked meals.  I think I can comply most of the time, but remember, I'm human.  If I screw up, it's not about the mistake I make, but about how I fix it.


Like I said above, you're welcome to join me on this.  The RESET Challenge officially runs from January 7 - April 7, and I expect the 30 winners will mostly come from early starts.  But if you want to join the RESET program during that time for your own health, I can get you started.  Find me on Facebook, Twitter or send me an email.





*These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Individual results may vary. RESET weight-management system lowers your daily caloric intake and recommends moderate exercise for best results. Typical results are 4.5 lbs in five days.

It is suggested that you take these products to your physician and secure his/her advice if you intend to change your diet, begin an exercise program, are pregnant or lactating, have allergies, are taking medications, or are under the care of a physician.

Children under the age of 18 should not participate in the RESET program, except on the advice of their physician and/or dietician.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Back on Track

Just after my last post, I experienced a life-changing event, and it was just the kick I needed.  I'd been slacking off on regularly taking my USANA MyHealthPak, and I'd been going out to eat more ... returning to my old habits.  In early January, I came down with a horrible case of pneumonia and a return of childhood asthma - first round of antibiotics didn't do enough, but a different set of more potent antibiotics nuked the infection.  For about four weeks I was either out of the office or not very effective - the first week, I was literally coughing every ten seconds while awake - that's several thousand coughs per day.  The medicine made my mind fuzzy, not good for a guy just promoted to Senior Database Administrator. Between antibiotics, narcotic cough meds, an inhaler and steroids, I had a lot of prescriptions swimming around, no appetite, and I lost about a pound a day - 17 pounds lost in 21 days, I think.  I took whatever nutritionals I could fit into my schedule, but one of my medicines specifically said not to take it with vitamins.  As soon as I was done with antibiotics, I added in USANA Probiotic Plus, and as I tapered off the steroids, added back the vitamin D and MyHealthPak.  The doctor said the damage would be visible on an X-ray for months, so I wanted to get my repair systems back up to full speed.  I'm happy to say that I'm much improved, and the signs of asthma are gone - a major relief.

So how did this happen if I was taking the world's best supplements?  For one thing, they're nutrition - not a drug.  They provide support for the body's natural defenses and repair processes, but if there's a powerful germ out there, the immune system's probably going to full-scale battle.  All nutrition can do is resupply the troops - which unfortunately were nuked during the multi-week antibiotic phase.  That's where the Probiotic Plus comes in.  The science I've read says the gut is the source of about 80% of our immune system.  Clean that up, feed it good bacteria and it will generate new troops.

Another reason this happened is that I didn't use my favorite products regularly.  They're not very good as a quick fix, but they're incredible as daily support.  Reusing my military analogy, it's better to keep steady supply chain instead of waiting till the troops are cornered and outnumbered 100-to-1 and then air dropping in ammo.  Wait until you're overrun, and you have to turn to antibiotics.  They're like air support with bombs and napalm.  Good troops in the area are wiped out as well.  They're a really harsh response to an infection - not to be used lightly.  Steroids, too... they can seriously screw up the immune system, leading to a vicious cycle.

Today, I'm feeling stronger than I did last year.  I swore during this battle that once I was healed I would take back 2012 as my year, and I will.  A coworker has committed me to walking up the stairs at the office - I can go from 1 to 5, the goal is to be able to conquer 1 to 9 within a month.  I'm purposefully walking a mile or more when I find an excuse; if you read one of my first posts, you'll know that wasn't possible a few years back.  The weight loss during the battle was a dangerous pace, and I overcompensated by eating everything in sight when I got my appetite back; I've regained about 14 pounds and now need to get back on track.  So I'm joining my USANA team in the 21-Day Trim Down starting tomorrow - using a few USANA products to get rid of abdominal fat without sacrificing health. 

Today is the day that I restart my journey, and to help keep me accountable, I'm inviting people to join me on the 21-Day Trim Down.  If you want details, just let me know - I can be reached via one of the contact links on this page. 




* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays

Happy holidays, everyone.  Christmas, Yule, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, all holidays that coincide around this time deserve respect.  It's a universal time of rebirth for the world, so now seems appropriate.

I've been silent for months, always "too busy" to post.  I'll come back soon and post again, but wanted to get your feedback.  What do you want to read about?  What information has muddled and conflicting information on other blogs, and on what information can I give my unique perspective?  Remember, this particular blog is focused on USANA Health Sciences and their products, so the usual caveats apply:  I'm a huge fan of the company and products, I use and share them daily, so it will probably include that point of view.  However, I can't tell a lie to save my life, so whatever I say will be honest. 


I've seen Google search keywords for the past month that lead to this blog, so maybe I'll come up with something.  I saw a search for "Proflavanol hype" - are you trying to see if the product matches somebody's claims?  Maybe I'll do a post or two on claims vs. reality, including what a product will NOT do. 

Leave comments.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Looking Back, Paying it Forward

Life's too short to be selfish or apathetic.  Two years ago, I read about something that I could do in order to help a cancer patient, but I didn't feel healthy enough to do so.  Someone on Twitter had retweeted a message from http://www.BeTheMatch.org (Twitter @bethematch) looking for donors.  I wanted to help, but there was a barrier.


Five years ago I felt old.  Too old - something was wrong.  Maybe it was stress.  It had to be stress, so I got a better job.  A year went by, but I still felt weaker.  I went to the doctor - again, and again - a specialist, then another.  Each one said they didn't know how to help me.  Same thing I'd gone through for almost 20 years. 

Two years ago, I saw myself in bleak health, with unknown causes and prognosis.  The detailed blood tests ordered by my doctor were scary.  There's no way I could donate marrow in that state - I was lucky to be walking around.

Two years ago, I didn't want to let someone down when they're at the end of their rope. That's when I started down a new path, using nutrition to rebuild the foundation.  As you've read on my blog, I've been steadily improving since that day.  I know what works.  Not only do I have more focus and energy, but I'm no longer getting sick every month.

So, back to the main topic...

Recent news has me concerned about rising cancer rates.  Chemical, environmental and radiation damage, for most people, aren't suddenly obvious.  People will have unseen damage to cells, perhaps damaged DNA.  They will have kids, and some may develop leukemia.  That got me thinking of how I can help - and I remembered Be The Match.

Today, I signed up as a donor for the National Marrow Donor Program.  In a week I'll get a cheek swab kit, and if my cell types match what someone needs, I'll get a call.  And I'll happily donate a little bit of my time to save a life.  Today I feel healthy enough that someone can depend on me and my cells.

Thank you Drs. Wentz, Wood, Cuomo, and the entire research team (http://www.usana.com/dotCom/difference/experts).  Something you did made a big difference.



If you feel well enough to donate bone marrow or blood cells to someone in desperate need, please visit http://www.bethematch.org.  The website will tell you all of the good, bad and in between about the process.



* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Trouble swallowing pills

I'm something of a medical mystery.  For some reason, if I swallow a certain size and shape of pill, it gets stuck - my wife panics and doctors very calmly make sure the crash carts are nearby, while displaying only intrigue at the image on the X-ray.

I've blogged about this in previous posts, so I won't belabor the point, but I decided to try an experiment and share the results for everyone's benefit.  The question to be answered: "If I can't swallow my medicine or vitamins, what then?"

The options I see are:

1) Don't take the pills.  Seriously, that's the decision I made for about 10 years.  Doctors prescribed me medicines and I never took them on a regular basis, meaning I never improved.  That changed recently with #4 below.
2) Crush them into 8-10 large chunks and mix with honey, like Mom Used To Do.  A spoonful of sugar, right?  No, Mary Poppins, modern medicine is far more sinister than you can possibly imagine.  Have you ever tasted blood pressure medicine in powder form?  There's a reason that shell's so thick.
3) Liquid forms.  This guarantees you'll taste the apocalypse that was so lovingly blended by your pharmacist.
4) Crush and mix into a drink you already want - maybe it'll dilute the taste.  Trust me, some substances' flavors don't ever dilute.  But this is the option I can experiment with.  Here are my experiences.

Theory:  Salt, sweet, bitter, sour: the basic taste groups.  Counter one with another and we may just find a balance.

Sacrificial test subjects:
  • Blood pressure medicine (Diovan) 
  • Aspirin
  • Tylenol
  • Ibuprofen
  • Vitamins (USANA supplements: MyHealthPak (MHP) including Essentials, Proflavanol C200 and Hepasil)

Mixture mediums:
  • Honey and sugar
  • Chocolate milk (Ovaltine, Quik)
  • USANA Nutrimeal (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry)
  • Juices:  orange, apple, grape, pomegranate; lemon or lime juice in water

Results:

Honey or sugar - Mixed with aspirin, tolerable.  Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Diovan tasted like the original medicine covered in a lie. The vitamins needed to be crushed to a fine, fine powder before the taste would reduce, and then not much. 

Chocolate milk - almost there.  Sweet but like the chocolate's trying to distract the taste.  Ovaltine was better than Quik, possibly because it's already mixed with a few vitamins.

Nutrimeal - Strawberry and vanilla didn't have a strong enough flavor to overpower, but I think the fiber and protein distracted taste buds a little bit.  Dutch Chocolate: bingo.  Every one of the above was reduced considerably.  A full-assault taste from the MHP completely disappear, and if crushed, they dissolve fully within minutes.  If you've ever tasted 200mg of grapeseed extract straight up, you'll know how big a deal that is.

Juices - This is interesting.  Pomegranate doesn't do a thing - too sweet. I tested the MHP with Grape and apple - only Welch's 100% Juice can counter the taste of the MHP.  Orange juice?  Only certain brands counter MHP:  Welch's Orange-pineapple-apple, Simply Orange, work well, but Tropicana from concentrate (non refrigerated) - is less effective.  It seems that better quality juice helps more.  Lemon or lime juice from a bottle don't help much either. 





I have once or twice bravely tasted the individual components of most of the MHP. The Essentials comprise the Mega Antioxidant (vitamin) and Chelated mineral (minerals).  The minerals aren't too overwhelming on their own, but the Mega AO is really intense.  I haven't tried the Hepasil yet.  Grapeseed extract is a taste you'll never forget - there's a reason they added a grape flavored coating to the pill now.  I'm impressed at the simple orange's ability to tango with the grape. 

Others not mentioned above:
  • BiOmega fish oil - as I blogged previously, this I can chew on and not taste much fish at all.  I'd say that 98% of the fish flavor is neutralized by the lemon. 
  • CoQuinone 100 - as far as I can tell, it's flavorless.  I just haven't found an way to puncture the capsule and extract its contents within a few seconds without a mess. 
  • Pure Rest melatonin - tastes like orange, and is designed to dissolve under the tongue if shipped to Canada.  If shipped to the USA, however, the exact same pill is designed to magically dissolve in no particular fashion.  Thank you for that clarification, FDA.
  • Vitamin D - It ain't a Tic-Tac, but if you take a swig o' the O-J after, you'll forget you tasted it.

Again, these are my own experiences and I am not advising you on how to take your medicine, vitamins, pills, or dissolvable tablets.  Seek proper medical attention from your own physician who knows your own situation better than some random person on the internet.  These are my opinions only and not a guarantee of performance.  However, I will go out on a limb and say:

Crushing pills usually causes them to be absorbed faster.  Sometimes that's good, sometimes it's not.  Research the medicine in question.  If it's a 'slow release' or 'delayed release' - definitely ask your pharmacist or doctor.  At the very least, hit WebMD on the web to start with.


For more information on the USANA products listed above, visit:
http://supergeek.usana.com


* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Product Review: Sensé Skin Care

[Visit this link and "Shop Online" to order]

Here we go, a guy blogging about skin care.  He's going to invite us to a spa party to educate us on exfoliation and pampering with floral essential oils, right?  Not quite.

Here's a fact:  Skin is skin.  It's the people underneath it that are different.  The Sensé skin and body care line is designed for skin care, plain and simple.  It doesn't care if  you're male, female or otherwise.  The main factor that differs is how oily or dry your skin tends to be - and with that, you choose a different moisturizer for each type.

So what makes Sensé different?
It's made by a company dedicated to nutrition, science, and effectiveness rather than packaging, buzzwords and fragrance.  They describe it best on the Sensé main website:


Sensé beautiful science® skin-care products offer an innovative approach to skin care. With groundbreaking, patented Self-Preserving TechnologySensé™products contain no added chemical preservatives—meaning they stay fresh naturally—so they are more gentle and healthy for even the most sensitive skin. Our skin-care specialists have carefully formulated exclusive antioxidant complexes in every product using ingredients proven to revitalize skin cells, leaving skin looking younger and more radiant.
Developed by USANA Health Sciences, Sensé products are formulated to properly nourish and hydrate your skin’s cells. The Sensé beauty regimen is designed to be a comprehensive approach to skin and hair care that takes into account the nutritional needs of both the skin and body.


I've tried several products within this line.  Here are my notes:

Body Care:

  • Shampoo - Very effective.  Minimal fragrance, but it does the job a shampoo should do - with less quantity used; my bottle from May is still about 2/3 full.  Comparing to an organic tea tree oil shampoo, this doesn't irritate, but does seem to heal the scalp at least as well.  Compared to Head & Shoulders, it's much lighter and doesn't seem to leave a film after rinsing.
  • Conditioner - Like the shampoo, it doesn't leave a greasy feel.  Leave it on for 3-5 minutes and once rinsed, it's quite obviously done its job.  A lot of other conditioners feel like they won't wash out.
  • Shower Gel - This has a natural orange scent which helps one wake up in the morning.  It works well, but as far as I can tell, the shampoo has the same cleaning effect and is interchangeable.  From a science perspective, I'm probably wrong, but my point is that both are very good.
  • Intensive Hand Therapy - I haven't tried this myself, but I have a friend who has.  He works with irrigation systems and his hands are in water 8-10 hours a day, so he'd come home with blackened, cracked hands every day - even with several of the leading lotions.  A few days with this, and he's highly impressed at the healing ability.  Nothing else compares.  Notice a trend?


Face:

  • Gentle Daily Cleanser - I've tried dozens of other face cleaners, and none come close.  This is quite simply the most effective product I've ever found.  A few dots of this cleanser will cut through average oil production, but won't leave a film.  It does its job - very well - and doesn't add any unnecessary fragrance.  You need so little that one bottle will last months.
  • Hydrating Toner - I don't really understand toner well enough to judge effectiveness.  My experience is that it tightens up the pores without the sting of alcohol.  It's supposed to be used after the daily cleanser, to prepare for one or more of the following, among others.
  • Night Renewal Creme - This may sound strange, but this stuff is amazing.  Its intended purpose is to feed and moisturize cells overnight.  That sounds like it'd make for a greasy pillow, but it soaks into the skin within seconds and does whatever it does to heal the skin at the cellular level.
    A fellow associate at the 2009 convention told me she used it to heal a cut instead of Neosporin, so I tried it.  It doesn't have antibiotics in it to kill an infection, but from a skin healing perspective, it's far more effective.  Neosporin and other ointments are, beyond the antibiotics, simply moisture barriers so the skin can heal itself.  The Night Renewal Creme actually feeds the skin cells so that they heal themselves - sometimes seamlessly without scarring.  In my experience, after a potential infection is neutralized, two days with this is more effective than two days with Neosporin.
  • Rice Bran Polisher - This is where we exfoliate, ladies and gentlemen.  Apply a thin layer and let it sit for 15 minutes.  Then rinse - thoroughly.  Dead skin cells will be gone.  No tingling, burning or pain - but you'll want to rinse before about 30 minutes is up, when the enzymes start up on the live skin cells.  Even after an hour, it doesn't really burn - but it's obviously been on too long.  Ask me how I know.
  • Nutritious Creme Masque - A thick white mask that's used to moisturize, then dries out and flush the pores when rinsed.  I don't have much experience with other masks, but this works very well, with no irritation or noticeable fragrance.

After using the skin care line, I have a new appreciation for the art of skin care.  It has an oddly rejuvenating effect - and I've had people comment that I look thinner.  I obviously didn't lose 15 pounds in a day, so think about it - what makes a person look old?  Their face looks "rough" - meaning skin isn't smooth; you can see pores and various imperfections that aren't usually present on, say, the face of a child.  Repair the skin and you'll appear younger - which can help give you the edge in a sales meeting or interview, where a mature and successful appearance is key.  Maybe it's the equivalent of a suit and tie compared to jeans and T-shirt, but visible mostly to the subconscious of the person that sees it on the other side of the table.

I'm not holding a spa party anytime soon - that's not my thing.  But to anyone that asks, I'll fully admit that this stuff rocks.  And because it does, it makes for a heck of a resale business - spend a few bucks on samples to give to a prospective customer, and there's a high likelihood they'll buy.  The products are so good they sell themselves within minutes.  You just need to say, "try it."

* I've been asked about acne and similar issues; since this line is not medicated, it's hard to say it will work against acne or eczema.  But I have read that the various products are so effective at the core values of healing skin cells so they can fight infection, that those conditions are less of a problem for a lot of people.  The fact that they're designed to be gentle probably factors in.

** If you're ordering from the website link above, and it asks for Associate/ Sponsor ID, give this information:
3970090 - Mark Holmes / Mobile, AL
If you've visited http://supergeek.usana.com, it should already have the info saved.


* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Product Review: Rev3 Energy Drink

* Top Pick *   Product Information

One of my favorite USANA products is the Rev3 energy drink, which comes in two forms: a can or a powder.

There are lots of energy drinks on the market - almost all of them promise a major buzz, surge of energy, athletic performance, mental edge - so how are you going to decide between them?  Same way you decide on anything - try them all.  So, with that in mind, I have had several over the years.  Here's what I thought based on two factors most people use: taste and energy.


  • Red Bull - nasty taste - cough syrup is an antidote.  Extreme buzz - my head tingles - not in a good way.  Like drinking 8 cups of coffee - jittery.  People must drink this on a dare and then get hooked.
  • Bawls - guarana / berry flavor is tolerable.  My head tingles.  Jittery, irritable.
  • Monster - didn't like the taste, and again, the jitters were noticeable, a bit less than the others.
  • There was another blue one whose name I forget - its taste put them all to shame.  I couldn't drink enough of it to get an energy boost.  Are they all designed to taste that bad?
  • Rev3 cans - Citrus / berry / pomegranate flavor is lightly carbonated and pretty good, though it may take a few sips to adapt.  It's not designed to be sweet, but isn't as tart as grapefruit.   Energy wise, it doesn't cause me jitters unless I chug it or combine with coffee.  I get about 5 hours of steady energy boost from one 12 ounce can, measured in mental focus and physical energy - and no crash later.  From what I understand, the L-Carnitine makes a difference in muscle energy.  [Ingredients]
  • Rev3 Surge (powder) - lemon tea flavor, with an herbal component.  You control the intensity.  Too much water, and it tastes weak.  Too little water, and you'll pucker.  Read the label and you're good - 12-14 ounces of water is perfect - it tastes like lightly sweetened tea with lemon added. For the energy component, I've used these for 10 hour drives with great success.  Start driving around noon, add a Surge Pack to a bottle of water midway through, and for the last 5 hours I'm totally focused, and can still sleep fine that night.  Without that help, after about 8 hours I'm starting to fade.  Anyone who's driven 10-12 hours until nighttime knows you still want mental focus at the end of the trip. [Ingredients]  Did I mention it's 10 calories and naturally sweetened?  Yes, you read that right.  

One of the main reasons Rev3 is, in my mind, superior, is its natural, low glycemic formula.  No artificial sweeteners are needed if you use the right natural sweeteners.  Think about it - the company that makes it uses real, peer reviewed science and very expensive quality testing in its other products, so why would they cut corners on their energy drink?  The combined sources of natural caffeine have a synergistic effect, so you don't need 200 milligrams.  This has been used by professional athletes to gear up for or recover from a race.

For a winter surprise... Believe it or not, if you put either version of Rev3 in a coffee cup and heat it in a microwave for about 30 seconds, it's actually pretty good heated up.  I try not to exceed 170 degrees to avoid damaging the vitamins and other vital components, so if it's too hot to sip, it's probably too hot.

The only downside to Rev3 in cans is the shipping cost.  It adds about 80 cents per can, when shipped 2,000 miles from Utah to Alabama, so it ends up being a little more than a 16 ounce Red Bull.  I'm told there's a possible freight option for orders of 50+ cases (600 cans), so my plan is to find a few retailers in Mobile that want to stock it.  When I tell the retailers that they're authorized for the compensation plan and can make enough commissions to more than pay for the product entirely, I expect a few will be willing to stock it.

If you're a retailer who has control over what you stock, contact me and I'll be happy to send you a sample and discuss how to begin retailing Rev3.  If you know four other retailers, you can even get your product for free with the compensation plan.

If you're an individual who wants to try it or if you want a local store to stock it, email me at markjholmes@usana.com.

Visit the Product Information link at the top of this post to see a summary or to order.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Product Review: Essentials, HealthPak, MyHealthPak

* Top Picks *  [Products linked here]

Today I'll be blogging about several products, because they have a lot in common: Essentials, HealthPak, MyHealthPak.  They are what I believe to be the core nutritional products that everyone should consider taking.  They are substitutes for one another - different combinations with the same goal of comprehensive nutrition.

First, the Essentials.  Comprised of two Mega Antioxidant and Chelated Mineral tablets, taken twice a day (that's 8 pills a day), the Essentials are the core formula that Dr. Myron Wentz used in his research decades ago, and it's the formula that founded USANA - enhanced every few years.  When I first joined USANA in 1996, I was taking the Essentials, and noticed a distinct improvement in my health.  I used to tell people I was 22 going on 45.  I had low energy, depression, hair loss, all kinds of things.  The Essentials didn't magically cure me, but I felt better and my symptoms were reduced.  I actually was told by a doctor that I had the health of a sedentary man in his mid 40s, and it would take years to reverse the damage done by ten Whoppers a week (yes, I'm serious).  That was a wakeup call - I knew I had to change something, but it took years and several setbacks before I would have the epiphany to actually change my habits.  Fast forward to 2009, with glimpses of stress, moves, family crises, horrible eating habits for the first decade.

When I was looking for a solution to my personal health crisis (no, you don't get the details), I remembered my positive experience with the Essentials, but knew I needed to unleash the Kraken on the free radicals I'd allowed to take over.  Enter The HealthPak - USANA's top of the line multi-vitamin product.  It's the Essentials plus an Active Calcium and an Antioxidant Booster with Grapeseed extract, Alpha Lipolic Acid, and as much resveratrol as you'd find in 5 bottles of wine.  Read the science and research as deeply as I have, and you'll see it's truly powerful stuff - in travel-friendly packets instead of bottles. For most of the past 17 months, I've taken the HealthPak and seen a consistent improvement in a lot of health issues that I struggled with for a decade or longer. I used to feel old and weak, but not so much anymore. I used to struggle with physical energy, even to breathe at times, but it's much easier now. I know I'm on the right path.


MyHealthPak: Absolute genius.  Who says, "I want to take the world's best-quality nutritional products and customize them into travel-friendly packets, with my name and custom label?"  Whoever introduced the idea, you rock.  Whoever convinced management to invest bajillions of dollars for the equipment, you rock also.   Now, add in the special pills you can add in - higher, more cost-efficient doses like Proflavanol C200, Visionex DS, and CoQunone 100.  I've created what I call a Zombie Plague Prevention Pack with the Essentials, vitamin D, along with Hepasil DTX and Proflavanol C200 - which use the new Hybrid Nutritional Technology.  That's a whole other blog post.



With HealthPak and MyHealthPak, if a friend gets sick, I can offer to share a few packets along with the nutritional information, which is printed on the box.  The sealed packets make certain that they're avoiding contamination.  When I've shared the HealthPak, in most cases I've had the friend remark how much better they feel and how they're impressed with how fast they recovered - two days instead of a week.  As for me:  I've had one sick day in 17 months. Wait, I was sick?  Yes, I admit it.  I broke my wrist and for a month all but stopped taking my vitamins because I needed two hands to use the pill crusher.  Someone at work got the sniffles, then another, then me. One Saturday I woke up with a familar headache.  I got my wife's help to crush the Essentials, and added 2000 IU of vitamin D.  Repeat twice a day.  Sunday was rough, but I was walking around and making jokes. I took Monday off to be sure I didn't infect coworkers.  I was able to attend meetings by phone and do all of my work, which as a database administrator requires mental focus.  I have no doubt that the nutritional support was connected to my healing.*

This isn't a cure for the common cold.  There isn't a "cure" - there is, however, the immune system.  Let's use a military analogy, because, after all, the immune system is our internal version of the armed forces.  When you send troops into a battle, do you starve them, or do you feed them well and give them tools to do their highly trained job?  I once read that a Navy SEAL's training diet is over 10,000 calories a day.  I'd rather have that guy defending my country with his bare hands than a 90 pound weakling trying to lift a sword.

Give your immune system what it needs to defend you from disease.  As you can see from my experience above, if you stop getting the cold and flu for a year, you haven't cured it - your immune system is just dealing with invaders more effectively.  It's also doing a better job defending you against free radicals that turn cholesterol into arterial plaque and turn healthy cells into cancerous cells.  Cancer and heart disease are not inevitable.  You can do something about them, too - with proper nutrition.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Product Review: Nutrimeal

* Top Pick *  - [Product information link]  [Nutritional Stats Link]


For my first in the series, I'll start with a followup on my Nutrimeal experience linked here.  I've been drinking the meal replacement shakes off and on for 17 months, and my original assessment stands - it is great stuff.  Now that I'm in "maintenance mode", I've also kept off all the weight I lost - almost 30 pounds.  I've tried all the flavors in that time, and here are my thoughts:


  • Vanilla - mild, just enough flavor to notice it.  Great for (possibly designed for) blending with something else like a fruit. 
  • Wild Strawberry - "wild" does not describe intensity.  It's very mild, and like vanilla, blends well with frozen berries.
  • Chocolate - pure heaven.  I've been a chocolate addict since birth, and this tastes like Ovaltine - which might be why it masks the flavor of ground-up HealthPak.  Grape seed extract can be bitter, so it took me some experimenting to find something that works.  This does, every time.
  • Chocolate Whey - It's chocolate and good, but the whey formula kind of threw me for a loop.  I'll stick with the original formula as my first choice.
  • Cappuccino - Not my favorite.  It definitely had a coffee type flavor, but I can see why it an orange were discontinued.
  • Orange - see Cappuccino.  Tasted sort of like orange, but I don't think it hit the target.  


There are so many ways to vary coffee and orange flavors, that they'd have to focus on another company's brand recognition, like Orange Julius or Creamsicle.  The classic three flavors are doing quite well, and I'm happy to have a recipe that allows me to be creative with three base flavors.

As to effectiveness, Nutrimeal never disappoints - the taste is consistent and it's filling, with enough energy to last several hours.  Remember, when choosing a diet plan or meal replacement, you DO want enough calories to last from breakfast until lunch.  That's what they're designed for.  Artificial sweeteners are misleading; you want smart carbs, not zero carbs.  Starve the body and it goes into hibernation mode.  Get carbs too fast, and you have an insulin spike for storage as fat.

I have a regular shipment of chocolate Nutrimeal to take care of breakfast and the occasional lunch.  It's a great hurricane supply, too.  When I had to hunker down for 3 days during Katrina, I got tired of canned meat and PB&J - possibly because they weren't nutritionally complex enough.  I can live on Nutrimeal alone for 5 days if necessary.  I could probably live for 30, with most of my health, but that goes far beyond the intent of the product.

So now to answer the question : "Who needs this?"

  • Anyone looking to lose weight in a healthy way, especially someone looking at a surgical option because "diets" have failed.  Nutrimeal is not a diet.  This is a simple tool that can have a potentially life-changing effect.  For someone looking to a guided diet-style method to lose weight fast, I recommend USANA's RESET program, of which Nutrimeal is a key component.  Trust me, with RESET, you'll lose weight fast and feel a lot better about your hopes in a week.  
  • Anyone in a hurry who might otherwise choose to skip a meal, go for fast food, or grab a snack bar for lunch.  Managers, police, firefighters (though they'll need to add Soyamax for protein), students - the list is endless.  It costs about $3 per serving, less than a mocha at a coffee shop.  I dare you to find a healthy lunch in under 5 minutes for $3 anywhere.
  • Anyone with troubled blood sugar  (i.e. diabetes); note, while I am not qualified to recommend this as a treatment, I will say that it's macro- and micro- nutritionally complex, with a glycemic index of 23.  It's been used in at least one study to demonstrate the effectiveness of low-glycemic eating on metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes.  Next time you go to the doctor, ask if this specific product will help - show the doctor this study and the nutrition stats.
  • Anyone at risk of losing power for 5 days at a time.  It's shelf stable for at least 18 months and a whole lot better than canned chicken.
If you know anyone that meets those criteria, email me: markjholmes@usana.com or browse my website at http://supergeek.usana.com.  If you tell me don't know anyone meeting those criteria, you're not looking hard enough. With a 30 day money back guarantee, it's worth a try.


* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Product Highlight Series

I thought I'd start a blog series on the various USANA products and my experiences with them.  I can't claim to be unbiased, but I will try to be fair - in a positive light.  I don't believe in focusing on the negatives, so much as finding a way to get a result or solve a problem.  In the last 17 months I've used quite a few USANA products, and I'll summarize: If I were to grade on a scale of 1-10 (10 being best), every product would get a 7 or higher, and every one is in my "would buy again" collection.  They demonstrate that the company's approach to creating a product goes far beyond sales and marketing. 

I'll add a link to each blog entry as they're created.

Products included in this series, in random order:
  • Nutrimeal - all flavors
  • SoyaMax
  • HealthPak
  • MyHealthPak customized vitamin packets, including CoQuinone 30, Ginkgo-PS
  • Essentials
  • Body Rox Active Calcium Chewable
  • Usanimals (customer experience - I'm not a kid and don't live with any)
  • BiOmega
  • OptOmega
  • Pure Rest
  • Vitamin D
  • Digestive Enzyme
  • Probiotic Plus
  • Fibergy - old and new formulas
  • Nutrition / Snack bars - various
  • Rev3 Energy Drink - Cans, Surge Pack, Super Surge Pack
  • Sensé Body Care (shampoo, conditioner, shower gel)
  • Sensé Skin Care (face/upper body: daily cleanser, toner, mask, night renewal, rice bran polisher)
Holy product testers, Batman, that's over 30 products in 17 months?  I've got some blogging to do! I'm sure I'll combine a few like products together for easy comparison.

If you have any questions about any of these, email me at markjholmes@usana.com and I'll include that information.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

New Stuff


USANA recently had their 2010 International Convention. Like every year, it was an awesome, over the top celebration of continuing success. These guys know how to party. They won a Stevie Award for Best Live Event for last year's convention. If you want to get an idea of what a convention looks like, you can find a video on the USANAHealthSciences Youtube channel.

This year, the company announced Nutritional Hybrid Technology, which allows them to combine ingredients previously incompatible in storage into a single tablet, enabling more powerful combinations. Naturally, they released some new products: Proflavanol C100 and C200 for an incredibly powerful dose of grapeseed extract and vitamin C; and a new Digestive/Detox category. This new category includes Hepasil DTX for liver health, as well as Digestive Enzyme and Fibergy Plus fiber supplement (which if you mix with orange juice, you hardly notice its presence). Dr. Myron Wentz, founder and well-respected microbiologist, recommends everyone take Hepasil because the liver is where all of the toxins are filtered out, and it's constantly getting hammered by the environment and food we eat.

Why is detox important? Everyone's heard about environmental toxins like pollution and mercury in tuna, but few consider the impact serious enough for action. For me, the worry's a bit closer. In the Gulf, we've got an epidemic of health concerns brewing and most people don't even know it. The oil “spill” (in which millions of gallons of crude oil gushed out of a well for over two months) has contaminated the sea floor and water in ways we can't measure. People in the Gulf states will be swimming in the water and eating shrimp and oysters from water that will be contaminated with cancer-causing compounds for decades. They won't realize the oxidative stress they're putting on their cells. In some cases, they may get the common cold more often or have general fatigue. In more subtle cases, they'll be oblivious for decades and one day be told they have cancer. What people forget, though, is about 70% of degenerative diseases including cancer are preventable if we take care of ourselves. Most of the people I know can't eat an ultra-healthy, tightly controlled diet every day. We need a boost from supplements to deal with the world outside our cubicles.

Some highlights about vitamin D and supplements in general:
  • Dr. Myron Wentz stated at the 2010 convention that there are over 2,500 studies showing vitamin D is an effective preventer of cancer.
  • Osteoporosis Canada has published new guidelines for vitamin D intake: 400-1000 IU/day for adults under age 50, and 800-2000 IU/day for adults over 50.
    "Supplementation is necessary to obtain adequate levels as dietary intake has minimal impact"
    Hanley DA, Cranney A, Jones G, Whiting SJ, Leslie WD, Cole DEC, Atkinson SA, Josse RG, Feldman S, Kline GA, Rosen C. Vitamin D in adult health and disease: a review and guideline statement from Osteoporosis Canada. 2010. CMAJ 10.1503/cmaj.080663, ePub ahead of print. Retrieved online 14 July 2010. [Link]
  • Participants with the highest levels of vitamin D (more than 50 nmol/L) had a 67 percent lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease than those with the lowest vitamin D levels (less than 25 nmol/L.) Knekt P, et al. Serum Vitamin D and the Risk of Parkinson Disease. 2010. Arch Neurol 67(7):808-11. [Link]
  • A team of researchers from the University of Washington report that daily use of multivitamins over a 10-year period may reduce the risk of death from heart disease by 16%. Am J Epidemiol 2009 Aug 15;170(4):472-83 [Link]
If you'd like to order any of USANA's products, or have questions, just send me an email at journey@markjholmes.com. Visit my website at http://supergeek.usana.com as well.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Promoting with Social Media


Recently I've been honored to be mentioned several times by USANA's corporate blog.


And today, the best mention yet:

Jason believes that I'm using social media well. I have to admit, that's a compliment, because I think that USANA's got one of the best online presences in network marketing, confirmed by their many accolades. This got me to thinking: What have I done right?

Here's my best guess:
  • On Twitter, I converse. I don't just spam out links to my site. I talk to real people. About real things - not just the USANA business. As you'll see from my tweets, I'm about more than just one thing. I'm a USANA distributor, a software engineer turned database administrator, advocate for people with autism, and a proud husband of a debut author. My USANA business may be a tenth the size it could be, but I think it's a hundred times more solid.
  • I'm honest. I don't try to scam someone, not just because I can't tell a lie to save my life, but because this is a business I'm building to last a lifetime. If you build a foundation on lies, you have to continue to lie for as long as you want to maintain it. If anyone out there thinks that my USANA business is founded on lies, they are making an assumption and don't know me from a hole in the ground. If I can't change their point of view by a simple show of integrity, their mind is too closed to try any harder.
  • Another thing I do on Twitter is practice Mutual Respect. When someone says something of value, I often RT (retweet) it. I'll also welcome a new USANA member onto Twitter and offer help with their business. Oddly enough, few people take me up on the offer - probably because they think since I'm crossline I have no vested interest. Here's how it works: If you help me, I'll remember that, and will recommend you to someone else one day in the future. In fact, I may do so dozens of times. So, thank you Jeremy Stansfield, Collette Larsen and Larsen Global, Lebby Salinas, Pete Zdanis, Robert Allen, Jason Miller and Tim Haran, as well as all the others who have graciously offered their insight for no personal gain. You all understand the true, positive, meaning of "what goes around comes around."
  • I keep an eye out for people's needs. If they complain that they're sick, I may offer them some HealthPak samples for a few days. In almost all cases, they feel better after taking a 3-4 day supply. Not miraculously cured, but they feel an improvement they never experienced before, so they're likely to purchase the product. I'm careful not to connect that to an actual illness, though, and not only for legal reasons. While my mind can perceive the connection, it's because I've sat through scientific sessions at the USANA09 convention and read a lot of research. People have been trained that vitamins don't work... and for the most part, they're right. The once daily multivitamin is absolutely worthless. I can't convince the average person in 140 characters that their $6 bottle of SuperMegaVitaBlaster is giving them false hopes; that takes time. It takes integrity, and trust.
Bottom line - Twitter and social media of any kind are best used if you "act yourself" just like you're trying to make a friend or go on a date. Because that's what this is... relationship marketing. If you try guerilla tactics, sell-and-run, you may get a single sale and a bad reputation that'll precede you for miles. So, make friends, find friends of those friends, and just be who you are naturally. If they don't come to you for vitamins today, they'll remember you when they are ready.

If you're ready to learn about the health benefits of USANA, curious about the business or otherwise - please drop me a line at journey@markjholmes.com. Or visit my USANA website at http://supergeek.usana.com.






Thursday, December 17, 2009

Not just vitamins...

Over the past few months, my coworkers have witnessed improvements in my health. I've lost weight, and kept it off. I've got more energy than I used to - which gave me the stamina to work through some intense times, and earn a promotion.

I've also avoided the numerous plagues around the office - all but one. Every time someone I work with would get sick, I'd give them a few days' supply of the HealthPak I take.
"Here, this will help your immune system fight off whatever you've got."
Some would answer, "But it's just a cold/flu/the-crud and I'll be better in a week or two." Ok, don't take my help. Suffer for a week or two. No, no, I'm trying to help here.
"Just try it." Some do, some don't.
Within two days the response of those who take the HealthPak is unanimous: "I can't believe I feel so much better - it usually knocks me out for a week or two." Sometimes it's:
I have more energy.
I can think straighter.
I can handle stress better.

So last week, about 50% of the office staff was sick at once - the local weather had temperatures swinging from 70 to 30 and back three times in a week, so getting sick was almost guaranteed. It didn't help that our office's HVAC blew cold air for half of Monday. Plus, I'd kept forgetting to take my HealthPak for a couple weeks. As soon as I felt that familiar this-is-gonna-be-a-horrible-week headache Monday night, I ramped up to the full dose. A few hours of agony Tuesday morning and I was able to function normally in the afternoon. A minor cough continued for a couple of days but I'm positive my immune system won the battle by then. The people that have joined me with taking the HealthPak - similar results. Symptoms that have typically turned into bronchitis, went away in days. What would have sent someone home for a week, didn't.

So, more energy, less sick, weight managed, got promoted. As Montgomery Scott said in Star Trek IV: "Would that be worth somethin' to ya, eh?"