How does a good lawyer stay healthy and fit for a long career? Short answer: luck!

As I finish my 50th year in practice with no immediate plans for retirement, I believe I have some insights into staying healthy and fit which I share, in summary, below:

Most immediate for this moment in time is “get vaccinated”! At our age, my wife and I are in a vulnerable group, but it was also critical that we have our staff, of various ages, commit to being vaccinated which they did. We will soon get our Pfizer booster.

I have been vaccinated for mumps, measles, polio, and myriad other diseases. What is the big deal? Do not be part of the population that is so filled with ignorance that you would believe political lies and conspiracy theories which are contrary to the immediate welfare and best interests of your family, your friends, your community, your country, and you.

Have good genes. I realize this is something we have no control of, but a person with a family history of high blood pressure, easy weight gain, diabetes, or cancer must be especially cautious. And thoughtful. And well-educated on her health.

A person with “good genes” can get away with being somewhat neglectful in early years of the best health practices. No confessions here, but I grew up with parents who smoked in our home, and who paid the price in their early deaths. Fortunately, I never took up the habit.

Stay physically fit and try not to get injured. An injury to a moving or weight-bearing joint can have a rippling effect of reducing mobility, preventing the burning of calories, and interfering with movement in the rest of the body.

There are things one can do, such as kneepads for yard work, the seatbelt in your car and tractor, a roll bar, plenty of rest, and time for recreation.

But how does one cope with the trillion-dollar industry with two goals, to put as much cheap processed food into your body as possible, and to make as much money as possible doing it? And, of course, along with the most plastic and paper packaging as possible.

The history of the world’s food production is miraculous and sad. The inventor of hybrid wheat, I think in the 1800s, won that scientist a Nobel prize. He fed hundreds of millions who might otherwise have starved.

But, according to at least one book I have recently read, modern wheat is a high-sugar, low-fiber, 18 inch high,  poor shadow of the wheat upon which our ancestors of 10,000 years ago began to eat in lieu of their nomadic food-gathering existence. No more “Waving Seas Of Grain”; too short and stubby for that.

For me, it started with something called the “steak and salad diet” after I gained that first 10 pounds in law school and after my marriage to my beloved wife. It allowed for a quick loss of 10 pounds, but the low-fat, low-cholesterol naysayers, warned it would ruin my kidneys. So far, no.

The pattern of a lifetime is when I do not know enough about a subject, I read a book, so I am familiar with Adkins, Paleo, Keto, Mediterranean, Southbeach,  and Wheatbelly diets, the infamous Ornish low-fat diet,  and several variations.

I will keep this as simple as I can.

Carbohydrates, “carbs” are sugar, and processed carbs are the largest and worst source; also processed sugar.

According to Dr. William Davis, cardiologist and author of the “Wheatbelly” books, wheat in all forms is bad. According to him, it causes a spike in your blood sugar. I accept that as true and have found suspect the Adkins argument that whole wheat reduces “net carbs”. Since it is still sugar.

But all of the authors concur that high fiber is good.

The condemnation of fats and cholesterol is too simplistic. Fat which is incorporated into a junk food diet is bad. Wholesome olive oil, butter, and hard cheese products fit nicely into a low-carb diet.

So how did I lose 20 pounds this summer, and why did I get stuck there? Well, there was a bit of a relapse during our week in New England and the Berkshire Mountains.

For lunch, I gave up my Wendy’s spicy chicken combo which includes fries. Just switching from fries to Apple bites did not work as well as I wanted. But, I found on Amazon a special wheat-free, grain-free, wrap. My dear wife makes me a wrap of Swiss cheese, cold cuts, plenty of lettuce, and mayonnaise each day. That and a few pieces of hard chocolate, unsweet tea, or a small diet Coke without caffeine carry me on till 4 PM.

Breakfast throughout the week is an Atkins low-carb bar.

Snacks during the day, usually a handful of nuts, lightly salted almonds dry roasted, peanuts, walnuts, pistachios, and sometimes cashews.

But pretzels, chips, cookies, ice cream,  and cake, are bad. They are only for special treats. And, focus on portion control!

In the evening can be the toughest, but plenty of colorful vegetables, lightly salted, with olive oil and butter, grilling or mashing of cauliflower, grilling of squash, peppers, broccoli, and Brussel Sprouts with bacon and raisins. Yum!

In Summer especially, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, melons, apples, hard peaches, but not mangoes, and limit the bananas. I can’t resist a tiny sprinkling of sugar. Consider unsweetened Yogurt. Very good, or the best vanilla ice cream, but only one scoop and only once a week.

I am blessed because I like dark chocolate, with more cocoa and less sugar, and I absolutely love nuts. While on this diet, all of these things taste better than they do when your diet includes chips and peanut butter pretzels.

Another good snack is beef jerky, but without all the sugar.

The key for me is not portion size. I eat until I am reasonably full, but I try not to eat a thing after supper.

My current weight? 10-15 pounds away from my goal, but I intend to get there before Thanksgiving. It helps that I love to cook.

In my world, turning in around 8:30 p.m., reading for an hour, getting up at 5 a.m., taking 30 minutes to rest in my recliner before I leave for work, planning part of my day during that rest, consciously breathing slowly and deeply, “pouring it on” in being productive from seven until noon, leaving sometime in the afternoon for what I call “important but not urgent” reading, writing, course-taking, and projects are key.

The days with all-day trials and afternoon hearing and appointments are “the pits”.

I used to be a bit of an exercise buff. I have plenty of the equipment. And I recommend weight work and the rest. I just haven’t done well in doing what I “preach”.

But, being the owner of 10 rural acres, and a Kubota  BX25 tractor with belly mower, backhoe, brush hog, and front loader, I put several hours in every weekend of the snow-free months. We walk our dog Cinca every day, play with her, and my dear wife does her own housework, in a traditional way.

During the colder months, we have discovered “Sit And Be Fit” YouTube videos as well as various yoga exercises, and I use my rowing machine for 30 minutes during the evening news.

Being a multitasker, I listen to biographies, science-based works, college history courses, and other things to stimulate my mind while traveling in my car or mowing our property. Care must be taken during the mowing, as a lack of concentration can be deadly. But one must balance risk with benefit.

I am a firm believer that the mind must be exercised, and the imagination stimulated. Last night we watched the story of the first photograph of a black hole. The “camera” had to be nearly as large as the earth, with multiple observatories.

I try not to watch TV much for pleasure anymore. If I am not learning something new, I am generally not interested. Most professional sports have lost their interest for me, especially in light of online betting.

The myriad podcasts available today are remarkable and should be carefully reviewed and curated. Someday I will write an article that. For now, try Fareed Zakaria, Freakonomics, and Writers’ Almanac.

What do I do that is not healthful? Well, I am not exactly talking to a priest, so no big “reveals” here. Mostly I try to live a responsible life.

One must monitor alcohol intake, and a person who is not prepared to give up drinking still needs to migrate to a low-carb beer such as Mic Ultra, drink dry red wine, and an moderate hard alcohol to an occasional gin and tonic or dry martini.

My love for olives, especially almond stuffed olives, has grown as my diet has evolved. I order six jars at a time from Amazon.

Breakfast of course can be eggs and bacon, eggs and ham, omelets, fruit, and, under my former diet, whole wheat toast. But I have found a good form of non-wheat and no non-grain granola. Write me and I will give you the particulars. Remember, moar cereal is sugar. And yes, oats are better than wheat.

Finally, I do not know whether it is good or bad, but I come to work each day into a maelstrom of human conflict, stress, emergencies, alleged abuse, vitriol, deadlines, complexity, and anger.

How does one deal with that? I think that part goes back to “good genes” and high tolerance to stress, an inclination to be interested in people, a certain level of intelligence, but, in my opinion, two other critical factors: curiosity, and innovation.

Without those, what fun is it?

And then there is that elusive creature: resilience. Be well.

This post was written by Burton Hunter

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