Tag Archives: Health

THE DISAPPEARING MAGICIAN Don’t Try this at Home By Hazel Dixon-Cooper


Instead of astounding one of his Las Vegas audiences by making an elephant disappear, Penn Jillette amazed the country by losing 104 pounds in four months.

In 2014, weighing 322 pounds and on eight different medications for hypertension, Jillette ended up in the hospital with life-threatening, uncontrollable high blood pressure. A doctor told him that if he could lose 40 pounds, he might be able to significantly reduce both his blood pressure and the medication he took. The doctor suggested bariatric surgery. Realizing that he must lose weight and change his eating habits if he was going to live, Jillette shunned the surgery but agreed to lose weight.

The magician says he does not believe in moderation. Instead of beginning a sensible and healthy weight-loss program, he called his friend, Ray Cronise, a former NASA engineer-turned-weight-loss coach. Cronise’s program is not moderate.

For the first two weeks, Jillette ate nothing but potatoes. Nothing. He could eat russets, fingerlings, Yukon Gold, or any other type he craved. He could boil them, bake them, or eat them raw. He had to eat them plain—no salt, oil, or sour cream—and was allowed up to five per day. He lost 18 pounds. Corn was next on the menu. “It tasted like candy,” Jillette said. He added other vegetables, fruits, and unprocessed grains over the next few weeks until he was eating 1,000 calories a day.

In addition to the potatoes-only diet, the program consisted of intermittent fasting, cold showers, and lots of sleep to trigger a metabolic winter. According to Cronise, the idea was to jump-start Jillette’s body into feeding on itself to create rapid weight loss. It worked. Over the next three months, Jillette dropped another 72 pounds. Now he eats one meal a day, usually a huge salad, in the late afternoon and all the fruit he can stuff in his face.

Jillette says he hates to exercise, and didn’t while on the program. The truth is that it was forbidden. “Why would you want someone who is 100 pounds overweight to risk injury by exercising?” said Cronise.

What injury? Does he think his clients should jump into an extreme body-building routine? Maybe the near-starvation diet and rapid weight loss made Penn Jillette too weak to exercise.
Even if you have a hundred pounds to lose, as I did, walking is a safe way to stay mobile. At first, my feet and ankles hurt so badly that I couldn’t go farther than the end of the block. I was short of breath so I shuffled. As I grew stronger, I increased the distance until I was routinely walking three to four miles a day. Our bodies are made to move.

Jillette admits that he had a 90-percent blockage in an artery in his heart. That, with his weight and dangerously high blood pressure could have been the perfect storm for either a heart attack or stroke, especially with the added stress of even moderate exercise. He had surgery to unclog the artery two months before beginning the drastic diet.

Quickly losing a huge amount of weight looks dramatic, and it’s tempting to think that you could be five or six sizes smaller within a few months. The trouble with that and every quick-fix program is that you risk your health. Rapid weight loss can set the stage for gallstones and fatty liver disease. You can lose more water and lean muscle tissue than actual fat. This is especially true if you are not helping your atrophied muscles repair themselves by exercising while you are losing. Jillette says that he did begin a mild program including riding an adult tricycle several miles a day after he lost the weight.

Exercise or not, you would think that, after such an extreme weight loss, Penn Jillette would be the first to promote this plan to anyone within earshot. Not so. Instead, he told Dr. Oz, USA Today, and a slew of others that this diet is not for everyone. In fact, he’s adamant about it. So is a line-up of physicians, nutritionists, and weight-loss experts who all agree this has done nothing but set him up for failure. Although potatoes contain natural compounds that affect inflammation, hunger, insulin, sleep, and mood, they do not provide all the nutrition your body needs to maintain health.

Ray Cronise alludes to creating the potato diet and says that he chose the starchy vegetable because it is a good source of protein. However, the concept has been around since 1849. That plan promised fat men that they would become lean and required them to stay on the potatoes-only menu for three-to-five days. More than a hundred and sixty years later, the potato diet is still being recycled as another miracle cure for obesity.

Penn Jillette has kept his weight off for a year. He’s also promoting his new book, Presto, about his experience. Right now, he’s still motivated. However, the long-term odds are against his maintaining both his current weight and his health. Ninety-five percent of people who fall for any medical, commercial, or over-the-counter weight-loss fixes are going to fail.

No miracle cure, no fad, no draconian hard-ass way to lose weight will help you keep it off. The only way that works is getting rid of your carbohydrate and fat addictions, and that is a slow process. Drive by the drive-through. Pass up the pizza. Dump the processed food and nitrate-loaded meat products. You can start as I did by gradually making healthier choices. One skipped order of French fries, one refused dessert, one trade from fried chicken to grilled halibut will start to turn your life and your health in the right direction.

There is no presto in weight loss. Just like a magic act, the promises of near-instant results are only illusions.

Noted astrologer Hazel Dixon-Cooper is known and loved by fans and astrology buffs all over the world. You can find more about her at www.hazeldixoncooper.com and easily purchase her books at https://www.amazon.com/Hazel-Dixon-Cooper/e/B001H9RFEM

Family Reunion Yields Key to Health Eating by Clint Evans

“What do you eat then?” My cousin asked my uncle this in response to his new eating plan.

His work sponsored an expert to come in and teach an eating program. The main crux of the program is to replace sugar. There’s no deprivation (which I also advocate). You just forgo sugar and grains. Instead you can eat meats, veggies, some fruits, nuts and seeds.

They don’t even eat beans because there’s some research showing beans cause inflammation.

To overhear that comment broke my heart a little. That we’ve fallen so far as a country and in our education that people can’t even imagine what to eat without sugar is unacceptable. These sugar-spiking foods are the big reason we have an obesity and diabetes epidemic on our hands.

The most recent numbers show 2/3 of Americans are overweight [http://frac.org/initiatives/hunger-and-obesity/obesity-in-the-us/]. 35.7% are obese according to [http://www.sfgov3.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/shapeupsf/projects/UpdatedSugarSavvy.pdf] and the CDC [http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html].

Wheat and sugar are to be replaced…only to be eaten in small doses as treats once a week or less. What can you eat?

– Dark Chocolate – lots of good minerals including magnesium and potassium.

– Kale – Romaine Lettuce – Spinach – your leafy greens. Power packed with minerals and vitamins including calcium, anti-cancer phytonutrients, free radical fighting substances and more.

– Blueberries – like all fruits they do contain the sugar fructose. But 1/2 cup to 1 cup of blueberries a few times per week gives you lots of nutrients and fights free radicals. Great addition to smoothies.

– Broccoli – excellent cancer fighting properties. Some research suggests steaming for a little while helps release more of the nutrients. source: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=64

– Coconut – almost digested already so it’s very easy on your digestion. Great food source.

– Pumpkin Seeds (or Walnuts) – great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Pumpkin seeds are the more powerful choice. What about salmon? Atlantic salmon is farm raised and infested with toxins. So DON’T eat it ever. Never order it at restaurants because it’s almost certainly farm raised since farm salmon is cheaper. Alaskan wild salmon is better but still causes you to be more acid (acid is the opposite of what you desire) and it has mercury and some ocean toxins. So pumpkin seeds are the top choice, walnuts the second best choice.

You must get Omega-3 fatty acids. The big problem western society has is the RATIO of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids.

Most people in the western world have a ratio of 10 Omega-6 fatty acids to every 1 Omega-3 fatty acid. This is highly destructive.

This is why eating fewer animal products will help your ratio because animal products contribute tons of Omega-6 fatty acids.

The ideal ratio is 1:1. Keep it under 2 Omega-6 fatty acids to every 1 Omega-3 fatty acid as a guideline.

Avocado – provides healthy mono unsaturated fats (coconuts are another great source of these healthy, filling fats)

Onions & garlic – mix into your cooked dishes. All kinds of healthy micro-nutrients to help your immunity, heart and circulatory system. When you cook or sauté it they keep most of their nutrient content. But cooking them blunts the “bad” taste some people don’t like. Also, it has less effect on your breathe when cooked.

This is a good starter list of foods. It’s by no means an exhaustive list.

What now?

I recommend you take that 1 small step. See if you can replace the wheat in only 1 of your meals per day with 1 or 2 of the foods on this list.

Once you feel the mood and energy improvement replacing wheat in more of your meals will be easier. When you feel a positive difference your motivation to make another small change ratchets up dramatically. I encourage you to eat to boost your energy not sap it.

If you have a question or comment I encourage you post it below.

What the Hell is Wrong with Me? by John B. Rosenman



I was teaching my 9 a.m. World Literature class about three years ago, when I noticed my brain was floating about five feet above my shoulders.  What’s more, it wasn’t floating in a good way.  I felt disconnected, disembodied, unreal.

What in the world was happening to me?

I was nearing seventy, a full professor of English, and planning to retire from Norfolk State University after forty-five years of teaching.  I had never experienced anything like this before.  Should I excuse my class early and lie down, or be a man and soldier on?

Hell, I was as macho as the next guy.  I soldiered on.  The fact that I was undergoing an out-of- body, semi-psychotic experience didn’t mean I couldn’t pull it off.  I was a pro!  So on I charged, fielding students’ questions out of the air, and I believe, passing the test with flying colors.

As I left my class, my affliction lifted.  For the rest of the day, I was fine.  My relief was fine, too, and I didn’t even mention the “incident” to my wife Jane.

The next day, with classes meeting later, I was absolutely normal.

The following day, with my World Literature 9 a.m. class, my brain drifted to the ceiling again, hovering near the light fixtures.  In subsequent 9 a.m. classes, that’s where it remained.

I told my wife about it, and she reminded me that a few months back, I’d had arthritic pains in my right arm.  They had interfered with my playing tennis, which I love.  A visit to my doctor and some meds seemed to have solved the problem, but could there be a pattern here?

We soon learned there was.  Starting at 150 pounds, I began to lose weight.  Finally, I went to Dr. B again.  He ran all the tests, which turned up nothing.  He concluded that my symptoms “screamed depression” and referred me to a psychiatrist who gave me pills.  My weight continued to drop.  One forty-five . . . one-forty-two.  When it reached one-forty, my system began to shut down.  Forget about having an appetite, sleeping, or going to the bathroom, and hello to a half-body hideous scarlet rash which itched like the devil and eventually no damned energy whatsoever.

One day in his office, Dr. B said he’d done as much as he could.  He’d run all the tests and didn’t know what was wrong with me.  In short, I had a MYSTERIOUS DISEASE, a subject I’ve written about in fiction, as in “The Blue of her Hair, The Gold of her Eyes,” where a woman contracts a disease that makes others shun and fear her.  I looked at my doctor and said, “Could I have cancer?”  He replied, “Do you want to go and have a CT Scan?”

Well, I had it, and the Scan revealed a discolored area in my lower intestine.  I’ll never forget the day Dr. B asked, “Did your wife come with you?”  Folks, take it from me, when you see your physician, one of the last things you want him or her to ask is, “Did your wife [or husband] come with you?”  I said my wife was present and he went and got her, and we all convened in the examination room.  The only things missing were a Grief Lady and Chopin’s Funeral March.  Dr. B held his fingers an inch apart, indicating the size of my probable cancerous tumor, and I smiled with as much fortitude as I could and kissed my ass goodbye.


Hallelujah, it wasn’t curtains!  I’ll skip some painful details. Another CT Scan, some more blood tests, and a gastroenterologist would finally, finally, nail it down.  I had Celiac disease, a severe allergy caused by gluten, a protein found mainly in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley.  This digestive disease can be hard to diagnose because it has over 250 symptoms, and no two cases are the same.  Also, many of its symptoms are nonspecific and can occur in other diseases.  Celiac disease is often but not always genetically inherited, and in my case, it had lain dormant in my system for the unlikely period of nearly seven decades.  One out of 100 people has this condition, but more and more folks are finding themselves affected in this age of processed foods.  As for my floating brain syndrome, my hematologist told me last year it’s a psychotic effect some of those with Celiac disease experience as a result of eating wheat.

After I was diagnosed, the process of recovery was slow and torturous as the villi in the inner wall of my small intestine which absorb food and nutrients had to recover and straighten.  Indeed, despite my efforts, I continued to lose weight.  One thirty . . .  One twenty-eight . . . One twenty-five . . . One twenty.  If I turned sideways, I disappeared in the mirror.  I was so weak, I couldn’t even run, and it was a struggle to dress myself.

One day, still a bit blotchy with an itchy red rash, I gazed at a class of students I loved and told them I could not continue.  We had begun a literary journey of the creative imagination together, I said, and I wanted so much to complete it with them.  Try as I might, though, I would not be there to reach the finish line at their side except in spirit.

It was painful to say this.   I knew it wasn’t my fault, but I still felt I had failed them.

Then something happened that had never happened before in all my years of teaching.

Every student in my class rose to their feet and formed a line around the room, waiting patiently to hug me.

Some of them even hugged me twice.

Back at home, I was semi-bedridden for about a month.  Talk about being limp, listless human meat.  My wife climbed the stairs and brought me my meals, which I could barely eat because I had no appetite.  I came to hate the sight of those eight ounce bottles of Ensure which I was forced to drink because they provided 350 calories.  I sometimes think Jane kept me alive, that I’d be dead except for her.

Lying there, I came to empathize more and more with the sick and afflicted, especially those sicker than me who might lack the benefit and comfort of insurance, doctors, and caregivers.  All we have are our bodies and our spirits, and our health and our senses can be taken away in a heartbeat.  I already knew this of course, but it bears repeating.  We don’t own our good health, our good looks, our success, or the fortunate way our brains are wired.  We don’t possess them because of any moral or spiritual superiority we have over others, or any special favoritism we have received from God.  Recently Mary Firmin wrote an essay entitled “Alcoholism.”  Some people are blessed enough to be able to drink a beer or a glass of wine without risk of addiction.  For others it’s like walking a tightrope above an abyss.  In some ways alcoholism is a mysterious disease, too.  Some of us are just luckier than others.

Dear Reader, if you type Mysterious Diseases into your browser, you will find all sorts of strange, bizarre, and often unsolved and incurable maladies.  Perhaps new ones will appear in the future, and it will be impossible to prepare for them.

As for me, my doctor informs me I’ve made a “tremendous recovery.”  Thanks to Prednizone, a steroid, I developed a voracious appetite and finally managed to gain weight, although later it caused a cataract to ripen in my right eye that half-blinded me overnight.  Today I weigh as much as I did before and live an almost normal life.  However, while my disease is in remission, it remains, and I must take meds daily for it.  Above all, I must avoid gluten at all costs.  For example, if I go to Wendy’s or any other fast food place, I take my own gluten-free, poorer textured, and less tasty bread if I want a sandwich, avoiding their wheat-packed buns and flavorful varieties such as the one featured at the front of this essay.  Also, I shun items such as macaroni, doughnuts, and greasy pizza, no matter how much I crave them.

It’s a small price to pay for staying alive.

John has published twenty books and three hundred short stories, most of them science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal romance.  He’s the former editor of Horror Magazine and Chairman of the Board of the Horror Writers Association.  Recently, he’s focused on his Inspector of the Cross series which features a 4000-year-old hero fighting to save the human race from seemingly invincible aliens.

Web site: http://www.johnrosenman.com

Blog: http://www.johnrosenman.blogspot.com

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/JohnBRosenman?ref=hl

Thumbs Up by Bryan Murphy


        Luanda. The fifth century of war. The South African army is trying to kill us all, but it is a fly that nearly does for me. A fish fly, “mosca do peixe”, so small you do not see it as it buries its even tinier eggs under your skin. Usually, like a tattoo artist, it chooses fleshy parts of the body to work on, bits that are generally covered up and left in peace, so I assume the irritating white spot on my left thumb is the bequest of a mosquito. Days pass before someone kindly puts me right. Everyone knows what to do. You sterilise a pin in a flame and use it to roll back the skin from around the white spot. Then you get a very good friend to squeeze all the eggs out. The pain is bad, but the consequences of not getting all the eggs out are worse.

This time, it is too late for such home remedies; surgery is called for, simple surgery. But where? People reckon the French Embassy doctor to be the best bet, and he proves willing. My colleague Dunhill returns a favour by accompanying me there and watches as I stare anywhere but at my hand, while my foot stamps on the floorboards like John Entwistle on stage. The only anaesthetic in town is reserved for major operations and the military. No complaints about that. You get a ration of painkillers for afterwards, but the time between the effect of one wearing off and your being able to take the next passes very slowly. I learn that pain does not make you heroic so much as self-absorbed.

I give a repeat performance when the stitches come out. Later, after the bandages have come off, I phone the doctor and tell him the thumb does not look good. “Well,” he says, “if it does not improve over the weekend, you may end up losing the use of that hand.”

Those words kick-start the healing process. I live with a numb thumb for years. It is still a bit slender, but the whole hand works, and I have a small scar to show as I sing for my supper.

You can read more of Bryan Murphy’s stories, poems and articles here: http://www.bryanmurphy.eu

Is Your Food Devouring You? by Clint Evans


food eating you

“Mommy, What’s wrong with him?”

This girl couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 years old. She could’ve been asking about anything. Her mom was a little bit embarrassed because they were at the mall and the little girl was looking at a severely obese man huffing and puffing after only a few steps.

I know the topic of health may be boring and there’s some resistance to it because it requires a shift in sometimes decades ingrained habits and decision-making. But it’s critical to living the best life you can. Or if fear motivates you more ask yourself, “Is being in the hospital or an assisted living place what I want for my future?” Nobody knows the future but you can take steps to stack the odds in your favor.

You “Blobbing Out”?

If you’re like me, the writers here at The Write Room, or most of the Western world you’ve got a big problem our caveman (and cavewomen) ancestors didn’t have…sedentary work. So many of us work in offices or out of our homes and sit in chairs all day long. This combined with the Western world’s processed food, whole grains, tons of added sugars and artificial sugars, over emphasis on animal products, and general lack of vegetable, fruit and superfood intake has led us down a terrible road.

Forget the Zombie Flicks

The biggest worry isn’t that a flesh eating zombie virus will spread around the world in 28 days. We’ve already got a massive and seemingly contagious disease overwhelming us…diabetes. According to diabetes.org over 1/3 of Americans are diabetic or prediabetic. And those numbers are increasing. Diabetes has a cascading effect causing a host of other problems.

Diabetes Hits Home for Me

My granddad suffered the pain, tingling, destruction of his balance because of dead nerve endings in the bottoms of this feet, and a host of other problems because of diabetes. I can’t pin the sole blame for his death on diabetes. But it was a huge contributor factor. Seeing my great grandma “taken away” by Alzheimer’s was the only more painful transformation I’ve had to watch a loved one go through.

But diabetes is just one of the problems caused by our atrocious eating habits.

Obviously, if you’ve been “battling the bulge”, feeling fatigued for years, or grappling with other health issues we probably won’t solve them in one article. But the beauty of it is we don’t have to. If you could just take that one step, even if it’s only a small step, toward better health then I’ve made a positive impact on your life, which is one of my life’s goals.

Ever since my earliest playing days of youth league baseball and up through high school football I’ve rigorously studied health and the latest research studies. It was critical to my performance to have top quality nutrition and training.


The marketing you see emphasizes convenience, animal products, and above all high profit food products. These are almost always disastrous to your health, metabolism, blood sugar and your internal organs. Food labels can seem very misleading for 2 big reasons:

1. Multiple servings in one bottle

2. Unpronounceable ingredients

Quick tip: become a label reader. It takes all of 5 seconds to see how many grams of sugar are in one serving. Then check the bottle or box to see how many servings it contains. If the label contains more than 6 or 7 ingredients and some unpronounceable ingredients I recommend letting the grocery store shelf troll have it back. Because trolls are the only ones who should be consuming that stuff.

I was looking at a 20 ounce bottle the other day that had 28 grams of sugar and 2 1/2 servings in that one bottle. So this one bottle of supposedly healthy fruit juice had 70 grams of sugar!

Doctors “In the Know”

Most doctors “in the know” recommend no more than 25 g of fructose (one of the two main types of sugar, the other is glucose) per day. And maybe 25 to 50 grams of glucose in addition. Most Americans are getting hundreds of grams of sugar per day. I routinely talk to clients who are getting 300 g to 500 g of sugar per day or more. Is it any wonder why diabetes is running rampant?

Liquid Death

Liquid death may be a little overly dramatic but all types of sugary drinks from those favorite sodas, favorite “fruit juices” that have 5% REAL FRUIT juice and the rest “natural flavoring”, ice coffees, mocha lattes, frappucinos, and more are contributing a whopping 20% to 33% of the average American’s daily calories.

And this is the worst type of sugar… liquid sugar. This takes your digestive system almost no time to break down. So it almost instantly goes into your bloodstream spiking your blood sugar. Your pancreas then surges its insulin production. Go through this cycle many times and you develop insulin resistance which leads to diabetes.

The Whole-Grain Myth

Whole grains are touted by these supposed authority sources we trust. But the “whole wheat” of today is not the same whole wheat as our great grandparents in the 1950s and 1960s. It’s been genetically altered, spliced, and its chromosomes have gone from 14 to 48 in the most commonly available form of wheat today which is called dwarf wheat. After reading Dr. William Davis M.D.’s wonderfully enlightening Mega best-selling book “Wheat Belly”, I’m more convinced than ever you deserve to replace the grains you eat. Dr. Davis did multiple tests showing even whole grains  spike your blood sugar as much or more than glucose. That astounded me!

The Hamburglar Comes for You

Like the Hamburglar steals hamburgers, grains and sugars steal the trim figure you once were or would like to see in the mirror. At least the Hamburglar leaves nothing behind. Unfortunately, grains and sugars leave behind layers of fat causing you to wonder why that figure you see in the mirror looks like someone else.

So what’s the solution?

Obviously, I don’t want to be a Donnie Downer getting you all depressed with fear mongering. We’ve got plenty of politicians and mainstream news media to do that for you.

Up to 90% of how energized you feel and how trim that character you see in the mirror is comes from your eating plan.

I bet you thought from that sedentary section above I was going to recommend you immediately start exercising at least 60 Minutes per day using a rigorous P90X or Insanity Workout style plan. But that just isn’t the case. Yes, exercise does provide many health benefits to your cardiovascular system, your breathing, your brain function, and many other areas of your health. But…

Energy and Weight

But for energy and weight loss nutrition is where it’s at. So here are my 4 recommendations.

[1] Dark Chocolate

[2] Kale – Romaine Lettuce – Spinach

[3] Blueberries

[4] Broccoli

Bonus: Avocados

Just eat 1 of these food items 3 times or 4 times per week and you’ll start feeling better. Any upgrade is going to help. As a general rule if you eat more vegetables (especially leafy greens which are the most nutrient packed foods on the planet), fruits, nuts and seeds your health will improve.

If you make the glorious decision to take one simple step and just do one of my recommendations then congratulations. You’ll find as you do one for a little while it’ll be easy to take one step from there. Once you’ve added a second one each single upgrade you make will be easier than the last. And you’ll feel better than you have in decades and within a few weeks or 3 to 4 months you may not even recognize that “movie star” character you see in the mirror.

I’m glad to answer your questions or talk with you via the comments below. So leave your comment or question because you never know who else you might be helping.

Clint Evans is 1 of the editors at Hip Chick Fitness http://hipchickfitness.com/. If you’re looking to melt fat using natural, healthy nutrition methods then grab his best-selling book “Get Down to 150” http://www.amazon.com/Get-Down-150-Exercise-ebook/dp/B00AF1CRA0.