A Perfect Healthy Father’s Day

Father’s Day is my favorite day of the year. Yesterday was everything I hoped for spending the day with my daughter, Morgan. Here I will share about our day and how this embodies the spirit of The Healthy Giraffe.

First, I want to start with honoring my dad who I think about often and how he influenced who I am today. My drive, competitiveness and work ethic are passed through how he lived his life. He had a motor that wouldn’t stop…until prostate cancer appeared at age 55 and then took him from us at age 58. He worked his butt off his entire life, was able to retire early to begin enjoying his later years with my mom and then he was gone…

So many life events change us. This has been a big one for me of course. How could this happen? He was the rock. He didn’t get to enjoy life when he was finally able to slow down. Then my mom passed away at 73 but the years leading up to her passing were miserable. She was in and out of hospitals, therapy centers and doctors offices. Morgan’s mom, Karen, warned me of my unhealthy patterns and would periodically ask me, “don’t you want to be here for Morgan?” She tried several times over the years to get me to think about what I was doing to live healthier and finally it did come all together.

I opened up my mind to what I was putting in my body and took accountability for it, not depending on any doctor or US Dietary Guidelines to tell me otherwise.  Everything changed when I made that decision and really everything in my life has changed since. It’s opened the door to being healthy in so many ways and also enabled me to help others live as healthy as they can…hence the birth of The Healthy Giraffe.

I’m going to couch the rest of my Father’s Day story around the concepts from the book, UnDo It!. The book is written by, Dr. Dean Ornish, who is I classify one of the godfathers of nutrition science in the recent era. Dr. Ornish is one of the resources I trust who is without agenda. He provides education and solutions based on science, much of which he has led for over 35 years while not being funded by any industry group simply promoting their agenda without considering health implications….just rock solid information that enables one to take action and live a healthy lifestyle. In this book and research Dr. Ornish directed himself, “proves lifestyle changes can often reverse the progression of many of the most common and costly chronic diseases and even begin reversing aging at a cellular level.”

There are four concepts Dr. Ornish chronicles to live this healthy lifestyle:

  • Eat Well – a whole foods, plant-based diet naturally low in fat and sugar and high in flavor
  • Move More – incorporate aerobic exercise, strength training, and stretching
  • Stress Less – how we react to stress is a function of our lifestyle and our beliefs; mediation, mindfulness, yoga practices
  • Love More – the need for authentic connection and community is primal, as fundamental to our health and well-being as the need for air, water, and food

I hit all of Dr. Ornish’s concepts on Father’s Day. Let me share how…

I’m cheating a bit…I’m starting on Saturday night. I made us a simple pasta dinner but one of our favorites. It’s with chickpea pasta (loaded with protein, carbs, and fiber!) and marinara cream sauce. The cream is a simple 1:1 ratio of raw cashews blended with water and then added to the marinara sauce. After that healthy plant-based dinner, we went for a four mile walk through Safety Harbor including a scenic stroll on the boardwalk overlooking Tampa Bay.

During the walk we talked about life, her upcoming law school journey and a few things she is reading currently. She blew me away when she was describing how she was reading a few, 150 page reports, from a recent Supreme Court hearing in which we heard a mock presentation when we visited Georgetown Law School earlier this year. It brought back a great memory being there together and now how the ruling actually played out this past week.

The way in which Morgan described how the judges came to their differing conclusions and how she interpreted was amazing. I’m not surprised as she is very disciplined in her studies but wow, she takes this stuff serious and genuinely loves digging into that level of depth. She also shared a few other books she is reading in her pursuits and making her a well-rounded woman and future attorney.

I shared a bit about my life’s adventures and felt an authentic connection as Dr. Ornish describes.

Sunday morning came around quick. We both had our exercise routines to complete and mine was a bit longer so I went out on an early morning ride from Safety Harbor to Clearwater Beach and back with a few branches off the route to add miles. It was a beautiful morning for the easy ride which allowed me to think about several things along the way. It really does touch on the Stress Less concept Dr. Ornish describes. Going out on these long rides or runs when I’m by myself allows me time to think while not being interrupted. It’s very therapeutic for me…

When I arrived back home I quickly jumped in the shower and when I came out Morgan had already slipped in the house behind me after coming back from her run and was making us my favorite pancakes. She also picked up a chai tea latte for me…one of my indulgences that I haven’t had in months. What a nice surprise…

After we ate breakfast we dashed out the door heading to Zoo Tampa. The zoo opened up recently as being closed due to COVID-19. In addition to Sunday being Father’s Day, it was also World Giraffe Day so of course that has special meaning for me. I scheduled an encounter with the giraffes and a hope to see Randall, my sponsored giraffe. You can read more about that in my previous blog, Welcome Randall the Giraffe.

Randall was there but didn’t come up close to be fed. I think he was upset it’s been a while since I visited…darn COVID-19. Morgan and I got to feed another giraffe and learn a bit more about them in general. What beautiful animals and like so many in the wild are becoming extinct to due to land use being taken and their bodies being used for human consumption. I’m a proud member of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) to help eliminate the needless slaughter and testing of animals.

We enjoyed eating a fantastic plant-based lunch outside in downtown Tampa via Farmacy Vegan Kitchen and Bakery. In the shade it was absolutely perfect and we both loved our choices. We both had burgers and side pasta salads. After that we went home for some rest and recovery.

For dinner we drove to south St. Petersburg and picked up our meals from the Golden Dinosaurs Vegan Deli. I had a chick’n parmesan sandwich while Morgan had a Caesar Salad with tempeh and we shared fries with nacho sauce. I have been eating so well recently full of whole foods as Dr. Ornish references but on this day I was ok with some indulgences although still plant-based. The Golden Dinosaurs Vegan Deli makes it so easy…we ordered online and they let us know when it was ready to pick up outside. I grabbed the bag and we enjoyed our dinner at a picnic table overlooking the intracoastal waterway.

Throughout the day I really enjoyed the connections we had through our experiences and discussing life. When we arrived home after dinner we ended our evening with a classic movie. Morgan had watched a few Tom Hanks films recently so I threw out a few more that she hadn’t seen so on this night she chose, Cast Away. The story is somewhat relevant here. Tom Hank’s character prior to being stranded alone on an island for four years was all about beating the clock…go, go, go…he later reflected about lessons learned and the importance about living in the moment…

After the movie I retired to my bedroom, completed a brief Headspace guided meditation and settled into sleep for the night.

How fortunate I am to have experienced this simple but yet memorable Father’s Day with Morgan and living my life with the values that drive me.

I hope the concepts from Dr. Ornish and my Father’s Day experience can help you in someway live your life to it’s fullest promoting self health, compassion to animals and responsibility to our planet.

– Add Health to Your Life

Featured Blog Photo:

  • Upper Left – Morgan and I at Zoo Tampa visiting Randall and his giraffe family
  • Lower Left – Morgan and I on the Safety Harbor Boardwalk in the middle of a long walk
  • Upper Right – Morgan and I in Gulfport on the beach after enjoying dinner at The Golden Dinosaurs Vegan Deli

Additional Dr. Dean Ornish references:

Randall sheltering from the sun…

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