Less Les 6: Setting the Baselines


Now one thing I should make sure we’re all clear on is this: what are the starting points – the baselines? In other words, where is Les beginning this journey? In order to reach any goal in life, it has to be tangible, measurable. So we need to know where we are beginning.

When we met in Hayward, CA a little over a month ago, Les, who is 6’1″ tall, was hovering around 313 pounds on the various scales he would try on the road.

We decided that when he returned home 2 weeks later, he would go see his doctor and get a few important formal measurements taken in his doctor’s office: weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, any vitamin deficiencies we should be aware of.

During that 2 weeks, he would begin eating and moving quite differently from before. He would eat greens and colorful fruits and vegetables. He was trying the real foods that I brought for him, and also taking care to look for quality salads on the road – also altering offerings to exclude problematic or over-processed add-ons, and favoring the organic olive oil and balsamic vinegar he now had in his truck.


Organic Olive Oil & Balsamic: a healthy and flavorful alternative to processed salad dressings

Recalling one day he walked to a Subway from a truck stop, and found a Grilled Chicken Salad, and sent me a picture. He used his new oil and vinegar on this salad. One thing I mentioned to Les was that he used excellent creativity and care looking for something with a little protein and some vegetables. Excellent effort.

A second thing I mentioned to help with his education is this: an important thing to note about Fast Food restaurants – and really almost ANY restaurants, is that more often than not, the level of sodium, sugar, and types of oils used in cooking is well beyond what healthy human requirements would be – especially if you are concerned about cardiovascular disease and diabetes. So use these places with caution. Since he has a computer in the truck and on his phone, he can always take a few minutes to Google the nutrition facts about the restaurant, and look at the sodium, sugar, calories and saturated fats to get a gauge on what he might be able to choose. Oftentimes, even salads at these restaurants are not truly healthy.

We looked at this particular salad, and it may have been one item on the Subway menu that was okay. Not perfect (sodium was on the high side at over 280 mg) – but sadly, at this point we’re looking for options on a road with very few.


So Les got home to Minnesota on a Friday, found he had a box of goodies from Amazing Grass waiting for him, and spent a good deal of time (during the few days he was home) experimenting with these new options, and some home cooking with his wife and family – organic salads, vegetables and fish. His wife even found him a pedometer so that he could begin to track his walking – and on Saturday, he went to the Zoo and was proud to report that he had walked 14,000 steps! What is great to see is that his focus is already shifting from stagnant to mobile, and from careless eating and drinking, to thoughtful eating, and lots of water! And he is seeing results…


On that Monday, he went to the doctor and here were the results and official baselines we were looking for:

Weight: 303 lbs (he had already lost 10 pounds since Hayward)

Blood Pressure: 130/60 (hypertension; however, this is down from a previous reading Les of 150/105, so at least we’re heading in the right direction. If we can get that top number under 120, we will be in good shape)

Blood Sugar/Glucose: 88 (not awful, but very important to watch*** – I will get back to this)

Vitamins: Vitamin D and B1/Thiamin are out of range (Vitamin D is a fairly common deficiency because it is predominantly taken in by way of sunlight. Many of us spend less time in direct sunlight these days because of other concerns, and we use sunscreen, so daily supplementation of D3 is typically a positive option)

Now, while Les’s blood sugar isn’t crazy off the charts, from an educational standpoint, it’s important to share the following:

According to the CDC, 1/3 of the American population (100,000,000 people) are pre-diabetic.
90% of these people are not aware of this.
This is gauged on a blood glucose reading of 100.

However, according to Dr John Douillard, many studies show that blood glucose levels of 85 or higher increase the risk of dying from heart attack or stroke by 40%. In a study of 43,000 non-diabetic men, 83% were over 85 ng/dl blood sugar. What was seen is that damage begins to happen to the arteries at levels over 85, and that we shouldn’t be waiting to see levels over 100. The #1 cause of death in America is cardiovascular disease, and the #1 cause of cardiovascular disease is high blood sugar.

Interestingly, when there is too much sugar in the system a few things happen:

1) too much sugar cannot be used effectively by muscle tissue, so the muscle pushes the sugar back into the blood, which then gets converted into FAT – particularly fat that accumulates in the belly, the arms and the hips.
2) it creates high LDL, or BAD cholesterol
3) it GLYCATES, which means that the excess sugar glues itself to certain proteins in the blood, and most typically, proteins called COLLAGEN and ELASTIN. These proteins are responsible for keeping your skin (by the way, skin is our biggest organ) youthful. Now, while it’s one thing for this glycation to age our skin externally (have you ever eaten too much sugar and your skin just looks blah?), what if you actually thought about how it is accelerating the aging your skin internally? How does it effect us when the lining of our arteries, our intestinal walls, our respiratory system age quickly?
So in the months ahead, we will keep a close eye on these baselines. Because at the end of the day, this is not just about losing 80 pounds for Les. To him, being healthy is about much more.  It’s about decreasing his chances of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cancer that run in his family. This journey toward health is about Les being able to increase his chances of living a long life and being around for his kids and grandkids. In Les’s words, “(I want) to feel good emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically in (my) life”.
Now can YOU think of a ‘food’ you love to eat that is more important that that?