Archive Monthly Archives: July 2017

Should a Treat Still Be a Healthy Choice?

Should a Treat Still be a Healthy Choice?

Should a treat still be a healthy choice? Or should you just enjoy a treat, whatever it is, because it’s a one off?

I have a word, an acronym really, that stands for an indulgence…a treat. It’s NAGIBOW. Certainly a silly name but it stands for:

Not A Good Idea But Oh Well!

In your lifetime, you are going to indulge in NAGIBOWs outside of your healthy eating style… Does it really matter what you have, or is a “treat” always a “treat?”

Just like good and bad fats have been wrongly categorized together, I think treats have been categorized the same way too.

You hear me preach all the time that I don’t think it’s a good idea to schedule cheat meals because life happens anyway and you will have that moment when that treat is absolutely worth it (like the first time your future baker makes you a cake)!

But there are treats that aren’t so good for you and then there are treats that are downright ridiculously horrible for you. So what I would like to do is share with you some NAGIBOWs that you certainly shouldn’t feel too bad about having, and then those I want you to steer clear of at all costs. They will NEVER be worth the havoc they wreak on your health!

Sweet:

No – Donuts! Incredibly high in preservatives and the mixture of continuously reheated trans fat WITH sugar is the worst combination out there.

Yes – There IS candy out there made with respectable, non-GMO, preservative free, no hydrogenated fats or artificial coloring or flavoring. Just real stuff. Panda brand is pretty good.

Salty:

No – Microwave popcorn! Most people don’t know that microwave popcorn bags contain carcinogens, or cancer causing free radicals. PFC’s are added to the bags to make them more greaseproof even though they’ve been linked to thyroid disease, ADHD and other illnesses.

Yes – There are plenty of companies, with whole food ingredients…especially non-GMO, that make and bag popcorn. Just be sure it’s cooked in a healthy oil like coconut. Skinny Pop is a great choice.

Frozen:

No – Fried ice cream! Most ice cream is made from the cheapest ingredients to begin with but then when you cover it with, most likely, genetically modified corn flakes, THEN fry it in trans fat… It’s probably The WORST thing on this planet for you.

Yes – Real ice cream! Just get the real stuff made from whole food ingredients you can pronounce and enjoy it. Don’t buy the ones that claim they’re healthier because then you’re going to get a lot of artificial crap that you just don’t need.

Comfort Food:

No- French fries! Potatoes themselves are really high on the glycemic index which leads to an increase in insulin. THEN frying these insulin spiking “vegetables” in reheated trans fat should never be an option. Carcinogen nightmare.

Yes – Have a nice soft pretzel with either some spicy mustard or butter.

Fast Food:

No – Fast food chain hamburgers! It’s been approximated that the meat used to make these burgers is really only 12% actual meat. The remainder of the ingredients are “other” parts and fillers that our bodies will want to reject. Plus, these chains will use the cheapest meat they can find…very high in omega 6 which is incredibly inflammatory.

Yes – Call in and order ahead of time from a burger joint you know that uses good quality meat. Twisted Root and True Food here in Texas are good choices.

Many times we don’t know how bad a certain food can be for us and then other times we try to come up with a healthier version of a NAGIBOW treat. If you’re going to have the treat…then have the treat! Just do your friend over here a favor and get the good stuff with REAL ingredients and avoid, at all costs, the 5 I have listed above!

Should I Be Taking Exogenous Ketones

Should I Be Taking Exogenous Ketones? (Say What?!)

Should I Be Taking Exogenous Ketones? 

Exogenous ketones were introduced in 2014… About the same time I really started diving into the health benefits of more fat in the diet.

But let me back up here, you may not even be familiar with the word “exogenous” so let’s start there:

Exogenous vs Endogenous

Exogenous = Originates from a source external from the body

Endogenous = Originates from a source internal to the body

Exogenous ketone bodies are just ketone bodies that are ingested through a nutritional supplement. Ketone bodies produced in the liver are more properly referred to as endogenous ketone bodies.

What does the science say?

Although I don’t think eating a diet ample in healthy fat is a fad, I do know that when science proves something is beneficial for us, there is a company working relentlessly to manufacture a product related to that discovery that will fly off the shelves.

Remember when resveratrol, found in red wine, was proven to be good for us? Supplement companies went crazy marketing pills and drinks with even just the tiniest hint of resveratrol in it promising anti-aging and weight loss.

What about garcinia cambogia? Remember that? It was marketed as a product that stopped the body’s ability to make fat and reduce appetite. Very small studies were shown that garcinia cambogia slightly raised levels of serotonin in the brain…that was all. There was no proof that it inhibited fat production and actually suppressed the appetite enough to generate any weight loss.

Most of the research put into exogenous ketone supplementation has been for the medical treatment of conditions such as cancer, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s/dementia. Any other research has been done for athletic performance. The goal is to see if the use of exogenous ketones provides any additional fuel sources for the body when pushed to its limit.

For weight loss

However, I know that most people who are considering supplementing their diets with exogenous ketones are wanting to do so for weight loss. This is where research is lacking.

So let’s just say that you were eating a diet with lots of healthy fat and are producing your own endogenous ketones…would supplementing with exogenous ketones also help me burn fat even faster? No!

Let me explain:

Your body has a natural response to significantly elevated blood ketones. It will actually increase insulin secretion (the current thinking behind this is to restrict ketone production to prevent ketoacidosis). Remember, insulin is our fat storing hormone. Ketones may actually decrease fat oxidation if consumed in high enough amounts, just like other macronutrients. This is why in The MADE Diet, I have most people between 40 and 60% fat.

And from what I hear, there are some companies that will tell you that you can, “Eat carbs and stay keto-adapted.” UGH! NO!

Burning fat for fuel

If there is one thing you take away from our conversation, it’s that a diet higher in carbs and fat is detrimental to your health. Having spikes of insulin in your bloodstream and lots of fat in your diet is one sure fire way to never lose the weight you’re after.

What we really want is for our bodies to start burning fat for fuel instead of sugar. The production of endogenous ketones is what makes this a reality. Many people now measure their blood ketones through urine, breath and/or blood. Nutritional ketosis is a range of .5 to 3.0 mmol/L.

Most people who eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) will measure in at a .2 or .3. Getting to .5 and up only requires fewer carbohydrates (and those chosen to be from quality sources), a moderate amount of protein and a good amount of healthy fats. That’s when the body will start to burn fat for fuel.

Personally, I usually measure at .8 mmol/L and have a body fat percentage of 17%.

This girl just doesn’t believe that you need added ketones from external sources in your diet in order to be a great fat burner.

Can sugar ever be healthy?

So Can Sugar Ever Be Healthy??

So, can sugar ever be healthy?? 

In a word…no!!

You can probably guess I’m not a fan of the stuff. I’ve yet to read a study that gives me ANY reason to tell you, that even in small doses, it’s ok to consume.

This notion that a calorie is a calorie and moderation is key is complete B.S. when it comes to sugar. I’m just trying to be your friend – if I tell you it’s ok for you and your kids to have, because it’s really not.

No, I’m not perfect, far from it but if I lived on a deserted island with a produce stand, a McDonald’s and a candy store…I cross my heart, hope to die I’d only eat off the produce stand.

But there are those times my friends want to split a dessert so I’ll take a bite. Sometimes a family member will bring me Hot Tamales (my favorite) and I’ll take a few out but then let the trash have the rest. You really can never say you’ll “never” have sugar again…because you will!

But because it is added into damn near everything we eat and drink today, we need to try especially hard to choose wisely.

Would you ever consider a 10 day sugar detox?

Just 10 days to see what it really feels like to not have that junk in your system!

As quoted by registered dietician, Brooke Alpert, “Sugar makes you fat, ugly and old.” I would add that it makes you sick too! Why on Earth do we eat and drink it then? Addiction, that’s why!

But if I can get you to just leave it completely out of your diet for 10 days, I think…no, I know, you would feel a tremendous change that would make you continue on a sugar free lifestyle (with the occasional shared dessert).

Are you still asking can sugar ever be healthy? Have I convinced you to give it the detox a try? Yes? Awesome!

Here are the simple guidelines:

  1. Read your labels. If it was made by man, you need to know all the ingredients. Sugar is hidden in the darnedest places.
  2. Fruit is natural but contains a lot of sugar. You have to see it as a treat (but after your 10 days).
  3. Keep your beverages simple: water, tea and coffee.
  4. Eat as farm fresh as you can: pasteurized eggs, humanely raised meats and tons of veggies.
  5. Take it day by day.

It is called a detox for a reason, because you are ridding yourself of toxins! You are going to feel crappy before you feel amazing…prepare for that.

You can do this and I PROMISE you that you will feel the best you quite possibly ever have! So instead of being fat, ugly, old and sick you’ll be thin, glowing, full of life and healthy!

Now THAT is worth passing on the dessert for!

How to form good habits

How to Form Good Habits, Even When the Going Gets Tough

How to form good habits.

Habits – we all have them! Good habits like brushing our teeth and bad ones like hitting the snooze button.

And I know you know that ALL habits can be created and broken…so why do we STILL have the bad ones?

While in New Orleans, I had the honor of hearing Darren Hardy speak on the subject and he did something pretty profound. He put up slides of generic people and how they look today and then how they could look years later after continuing with their bad habits. Made me think…”Man, I need to create an App where you can put in your bad habit or crutch and it’ll compare your picture today with a picture of you 20 years from now and the adverse effects it will have on your well-being!”

Could you imagine, if you happen to be a smoker, fast food junkie or tanning bed-aholic, how much more effective having a 20 year before and after, side-by-side, photo would be in helping you make the decision to quit that unhealthy habit?

I’ve always been a sun worshipper and I was that 20 year old slathered in baby oil. At 43, I’m dealing with the damage I did so long ago. Now I’m the crazy Mom chasing her adult children around the beach trying to slather them up with SPF 100!

What is usually so good for us, like eating the salad instead of the bread basket or having the sparkling water instead of the rum and Coke, has ZERO initial positive results. In fact, it’s the opposite. When we eat the pizza, curl up on the couch or light the cigarette, we are much happier…but only for the very short term.

Creating long-lasting fitness habits

When I start working with people on their fitness journey, one of the most common responses I get after the first week is, “I don’t know how you’ve been able to do this for so long… It’s so hard!” There are cravings and addictions that make your enthusiasm for change SO HARD to stick to.

I always respond with, “At first, it IS hard. Because you have old habits that you’re trying to break and new habits that you’re trying to create…You have a routine that’s just tough to change. But it can be done and you will wonder how you ever lived the lifestyle that you used to.”

Not only that, but I have seen it hundreds of times. When you start to really see changes in the way that you look and feel… It actually makes it easier to hang onto those new habits and never go back to the old ones, because you appreciate the NEW YOU so much more. That’s when healthy living actually becomes a habit…a habit you don’t ever want to break!

For every 20 messages that I get from people thanking me for changing their life with The MADE Diet, I will get one where people aren’t seeing quick enough success. It’s usually because they’re doing one or two mindless things keeping them from losing weight and getting lean while adapting to a higher fat, lower carbohydrate lifestyle.

Let’s talk about 3 of those common mistakes “MADE”:

#1 is still eating too many carbs. This usually happens by finishing off your child’s grilled cheese sandwich or having a few pieces of fruit with your morning omelette.

In the beginning of making this transition, it’s really important that you try to stay around 50 grams or less of carbohydrates per day. This way, you know by how you look and feel after those 7 to 10 days, if you’re insulin resistant or sensitive….which will help you gauge future carbohydrate intake long term. Just one large grapefruit has over 23 grams of sugar.

Grapefruits can be healthy but for the 27 grams of carbohydrates attached to them, I know a way better source of nutrition for those kind of carbs. We’ve got to be picky and green veggies and Shakeology are, by far, the best bang for your buck!

#2 is falling for those “fake foods” that are on the market today. When I ask people who are claiming to not be seeing results, what they are eating, they are normally incorporating some sort of low carb bread or low carb protein bar into their daily diet.

I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again… we need to eat less from the factory and more from the farm. These foods that are full of sugar alcohols and ingredients that we cannot pronounce are just not good for us and they just totally confuse the body! Our brains are savvy too…if it’s sweet (even chemically sweet), it’s going to raise insulin levels. Remember insulin is the fat storing hormone!

I know life is busy and having a quick go to food seems to be non-negotiable but I still want to implore you to only eat three large meals a day and if you HAVE to snack, grab a small handful of macadamia nuts or drink a Bulletproof coffee. More and more coffee shops are adding that to their menu. And this may be a shameless plug, but my daughter Taylor, will be offering Bulletproof coffee at her coffee shop opening next month. #proudmom

#3 – the 3rd thing might actually surprise you. Most people who eat a higher fat, lower carbohydrate diet don’t get enough salt. Not having enough salt in your diet will actually make you feel miserable and have you wanting to give up on the whole lifestyle.

For decades, we were told to avoid salt because we had way too much in our diets. This was when TV dinners and prepackaged foods were at their highest. That stuff is crazy loaded with sodium. But over the years, we have gotten wiser about eating less “boxed” food and processed carbohydrates so getting salt from our foods has gone down significantly. So those of us that eat a lower carbohydrate diet have actually become salt deficient.

When you’re salt deficient, you feel tired, it’s hard to focus, and headaches might develop more often. This is especially true in the first week of The MADE Diet.

A great way to test if you’re salt deficient is to dissolve half a teaspoon in a big glass of water and drink it. If you feel better within 15 minutes (maybe your headache went away or all of a sudden you have more energy) then you probably were suffering from some sort of salt deficiency. I recommend that you use pink Himalayan sea salt.

OK, I’m on my soapbox now and I have a bonus mistake for you.

People still have a fear of fat. So when they go on The MADE Diet, they have no problem lowering their carbohydrates but because of their fear, they increased their protein too much instead of increasing their fat enough.

I have also mentioned in the past the metabolic pathway called gluconeogenesis. In simple terms this means that eating too much protein on a low carbohydrate diet will cause the liver to convert amino acids found in protein into sugar. Protein is so important in our diets but eating too much can sabotage your results. How much is too much??? I help you find the perfect amount for your lifestyle in my ebook.

Perfection sucks and I wouldn’t want to be your friend if you were perfect…that’s boring! But being good 85% of the time still allows you to occasionally have a bite of the grilled cheese or some berries with your eggs. But I really encourage you not to be “less than perfect” for at least 10 days when starting this lifestyle so you can TRULY appreciate how eating this way makes you look and feel!

How to get motivated

How to get motivated (and stay that way) to reach my goals?

How to get motivated? How to stay that way and reach some insane (but achievable goals)?

That’s a pretty common question for people to ask. I even Googled it and there were almost 19,000,000 results…WOW!

Well I can share with you what has worked for me over the past 2 decades. I’m certainly no Wonder Woman and I do have setbacks, but long-term consistency is key.

5 things that have truly helped me to stay motivated

1.KNOW YOUR GOAL – The more specific you can be with it, the better. Wanting to lose weight or run faster isn’t enough. Exactly how much weight are you wanting to lose? How fast, down to the seconds, do you want to run that mile? By knowing specifics, you can then jump to #2.

2. This is something I learned from my Mentor, Chalene Johnson. Reverse engineer that goal. Let’s say you want to lose 25 lbs. Well, if you want this to be long term weight loss, you cannot lose it too quickly or it’s not sustainable. 2 to 3 lbs a week is the most you’d want to lose. With that being said, it’s going to take you about 10 weeks to reach your goal. By putting your BIG goal into chunks, you can not only focus on one week at a time, but you can also have 10 mini celebrations on your way to the big 25 lb weight loss party (without cake…opt for some berries with homemade whipped cream)!

3. Don’t try to do it alone. We are people pleasers by nature and it’s MUCH harder to let someone else down than it is to let ourselves down. If no one knows you’re trying to cut sugar out of your diet and they see you eating a Snickers Bar, there is no one to lovingly remind you of your goal. Tell those close to you your goals and better yet…ask one to be your accountability partner. Whether I have a fitness or business goal, I ALWAYS find someone I’m close to and ask them if they’d set a goal for themselves as well so we can do it together. It’s nice to have friends and/or family that want to help you be better, isn’t it?! I love those that make me want to “Level Up!”

4. Educate yourself. Now this has REALLY worked for me over the past several years. Let’s just say that I let sugar creep back into my diet (Halloween is a bugger for me I tell ya). The FASTEST way for me to stay motivated to NOT eat or drink it is to read a book, listen to a Podcast or watch a documentary on how bad sugar is for me. It’s like going to church people and you want to confess ALL your sins and promise to NEVER touch that stuff again! Hallelujah!

5. Don’t leave it to chance, organize your life. Whatever your goal is, it’s going to take action everyday…several times a day. What if your goal was to become Insta Famous? You’re hella good at applying makeup and by December 2017, you WILL be noticed and picked up by a major cosmetic brand. Good for you but without #1 posting good content everyday and, #2 researching the latest trends everyday and, #3 liking the posts and pages of those you want to be discovered by everyday and, #4 practicing creative new ideas on yourself everyday – that long term goal won’t become a reality. If you don’t set aside specific time everyday to do the above mentioned (or food prep and workout if weight loss is your goal), you will not create ‘good’ habits and old habits and favorite TV shows will creep back into your life.

Simply stated: stay motivated by knowing exactly what you’re after, breaking it into smalls goals, finding an accountability partner or group, strengthening your ‘why’ by educating yourself and organizing your day by prioritizing what’s important first. By doing this (and yes, it’ll be challenging at first), you will crush those goals like Grave Digger crushes old Buicks!

Are you feeding your machine (aka your body) with real food?

Is Your Plate Full of Real Food?

Are you feeding your machine (aka your body) with real food? 

When I overhear, “I’m hungry, let’s get a burger or pizza” I die a little inside!

It’s obvious that we eat to stay alive but because something has the label of ‘food’ doesn’t mean that’s really what it is. Food is meant to be fuel…it’s supposed to help, not harm, us.

The food that we eat actually gives our bodies information. We are made up of millions and millions of cells, and the nutrients in food are what tell these cells to do what they’re supposed to do.

No nutrition -> lack of function = big problems!

The hunger pangs…

When we get legitimately hungry, our bodies are telling us we are missing nutrients that help us function properly. Ingesting a cheeseburger and fries does not “feed” us and certainly doesn’t allow us to perform as we should. In fact, eating such processed foods (if you even dare to use that word), creates more harm than skipping that particular meal altogether. There is so much damage control your body has to tend to after eating that Extra Value Meal at lunch.

Real foods have certain phytochemical properties that help prevent and combat cancer, stop inflammation and provide us with antioxidants that will keep us living long lives. Remember, it is these Big Food companies’ jobs to make the MOST profit off of their sales. They will do whatever they can to cut costs. That includes creating a chemical derivative blueberry- “like” substance to put in their muffins, bars and pancakes – you know, instead of actually using a real blueberry!

Food should NEVER be a problem to our health, it’s supposed to help us remain healthy. But if we keep abusing it and eat too much from the factory packaged in a fancy wrapper, then disease runs rampant and our health suffers greatly.

You cannot trust labels and you cannot trust companies out there making highly addictive and incredibly insubstantial “food” for us. They’re best friends with the pharmaceutical companies and keeping us sick is highly profitable. Instead, eat food without labels or wrappers. Crazy, I know but it can be done and it can taste amazing!

What are good fats?

Not all Fats are Made Equal: The Truth about Good Fats.

Not all fats are made equal: what are good fats?

Admit it, when a friend tells you that they’re considering going on a high-fat low-carb diet, you instantly want to warn them that it’s common knowledge that eating plenty of fat means eating saturated fat and saturated fat means heart disease and heart disease means you die! Right?!

Won’t you also admit that human breast milk is the most perfect food for a human being? Would it surprise you to know that just one cup of breast milk has 11 grams of fat, and 5 of those grams come saturated fat?

We’ve been afraid of fats for decades now. And I’m here to tell you it’s ok to fear some fat… But not the fat you’re probably thinking of.

Saturated fats: good or bad??

We’ve been told to steer clear of saturated fats, like butter and coconut oil, that these were the fats that were causing our rapid health decline.

But it’s the man-made fats, the artificially saturated fats or trans fats, that are the real villains. Margarine was our Lex Luthor!

I don’t think too many people would argue with you if you stated that trans fats are very bad for us but the problem is, is that people just hear the word fat and come to the conclusion that ALL fats are bad.

But what about my heart?

If you put google to good use and check the more recent studies, probably in the last five years, they show that the percentage of saturated fat you eat really has no correlation to heart disease. It’s been shown that people who eat a lot of saturated fat (from healthy sources) don’t get more heart disease.

It’s actually kind of silly to me to think that, at least my parents thought, that man-made fat was healthier for us then God-made fat. We’ve been eating saturated fat since the beginning of time, but when man-made fat was introduced into our diets is also when, coincidentally, all of these new and life debilitating diseases started to pop up.

The good fats to eat

Now, you’re not getting permission from me to eat a 24 oz ribeye steak every single night but if the fat that you’re getting in your diet is from a healthy source, then it’s probably the least of your worries when it comes to your diet.

Instead of picking food apart so much, maybe what we should be thinking about is, where did the food come from? How healthy was the source that it originated from? Was it in the factory or the farm?

As Dr. Shanahan so poignantly said, “Nature doesn’t make bad fats, factories do.” If you’re eating fat from the factory, it’s not going to be good for you…no matter what else they add to it!

What are your thoughts on Good Fats!

Don’t Stop at Calories and Macros: How to Read Food Labels

Don’t Stop at Calories and Macros: How to Read Food Labels

It’s not easy to read food labels, unless you know what to avoid…

Don’t tell me when you see a new and promising “healthy” product on the grocery store shelf, that you don’t flip it over and immediately scan the calories, fat, carbohydrate and the protein content … Right?!

We have been trained to look for this stuff. You ask why?? Well, let me enlighten you!

The Big Food Companies want you to care about that because it’s VERY easy to market “Low Fat,” “High Protein,” “Low Calorie” and now “Low Carb.”

We are made to believe THAT’S what’s important! But let me go against these guys (again) and tell you that it’s what’s under the ingredient list that is way more important.

Here are a few examples why:

You find some yogurt to have in the morning (to replace that cereal) and look at the calories, fats, proteins and carbs – they all look good. You think, “SCORE!” However, that yogurt has high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in it, which has been proven to pack on the pounds faster than any other ingredient. It also increases your LDL cholesterol levels and contributes to the development of diabetes and tissue damage. That more than undoes the good of replacing that cereal. Look at the ingredient list for yogurts without HFCS, they’re out there!

You go for a nice run and feel really parched afterward (nice job pushing yourself). You decide to reach for a sports drink, because if all those athletes you admire drink it too…it has to be good for you, right? If you check the ingredients list, you’ll see there’s Blue #1 and Blue #2. These food dyes are banned in Norway, Finland and France. It’s been thought to contribute to behavioral problems in children and lead to a significant reduction in IQ. Animal studies have linked food colorings to cancer. It’s also believed it may cause chromosomal damage. Again, there are some sports drinks without the crap, but you’ve got to look at that ingredient list to know for sure!

I could go on but the point is this: Continue to scan the macronutrients of your food (paying close attention to the trans fat and sugar content up there), but don’t stop until you look at the ingredients and make sure you don’t see any of these included in there:

  • HFCS
  • Corn oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Soy protein
  • Refined wheat flour
  • Maltodextrin
  • Corn or wheat starch
  • Soy lectin
  • Mono and diglycerides
  • Dyes
  • Sodium nitrate
  • Potassium bromate
  • BHA/BHT
  • Propylene glycol
  • MSG

I’m not trying to make eating complicated, because in fact, healthy eating is very simple. But I want you to remember that the government is about profit and not people. Many of these ingredients have been banned in other countries because they are harmful to our health, but we are left not knowing this. My job, my calling, is to just share what I learn in my own research. Copy this list and keep it on your phone for the next time you go shopping… Or better yet, just do what I always say… Eat more from the farm!

I stand for freedom this July 4

I Stand for Freedom (Literally!) this July 4th

Why I stand for freedom…

Your freedom and my feet… How on Earth do those two things relate? Let me explain…

Since we are coming up on Independence Day, I always think about the freedom that we have and how blessed we are. My father served in Vietnam and during that time, he was exposed to Agent Orange.

Ironically, Agent Orange hibernates in your fat cells. It sat there in my Dad’s beer gut until he wanted to become a helicopter pilot in the Army. But to be accepted, he needed to lose some weight.

He went on a crash course diet and in that process, he lost that gut but also introduced the stored Agent Orange back into his system. It was during this time that I was conceived.

Nine months later, my mom gave birth to me. Although I was an 8.5 pound baby, they incubated me immediately and took me away from my mom. It was obvious I had severe birth defects in my feet and the doctors were afraid that this was just one sign of more serious complications, like brain and organ deformities.

To make a long story short, they came to the conclusion that the only defects I had were in my feet.

My parents battled with many doctors to save my feet because most wanted to have them amputated. Thank goodness they were both incredibly stubborn because they never gave up the fight for me, and they eventually found a doctor that said he would do his best to save my feet. Multiple surgeries later, I still have them. They’re not pretty… But they’re still there!

While on active duty, patrolling the North and South Korean border by helicopter, my dad was shot down and killed right before my sixth birthday. At that point, the doctors still didn’t know that it was Agent Orange that caused my birth defects. My mom always shares with me how glad she was he never knew.

So even though I had my two God-given feet, doctors warned my mom early on that I would most likely never walk or wear shoes.

Well being just as stubborn as my parents, I had to prove those doctors wrong. At 14 months, with a cast on both legs, I took my first steps.

But now that I was walking, the doctors were telling my mom and dad that if I wasn’t very careful, I would be in a wheelchair by the age of 35. Sports were never an option for me growing up.

Again, I had to prove those doctors wrong and I’m still walking on my feet (8 years later than they predicted) and have been a leader in the fitness industry for over 18 years.

I’ve always wanted to tattoo “I Stand For Freedom” on my feet because that’s exactly what I do. My father dedicated his life to giving us freedom and the stubbornness of my parents made it so I could stand on my own 2 feet!

Besides, I do believe that all I’ve been through has given me the heart to help others with struggles of their own.

Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny… ~C.S. Lewis