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How I Lost 140 LBS. My Purpose & Goals

In my first post in this series, I discussed how I came into the reality of knowing that it was time to lose weight and get into shape. Facing that reality was probably the most important step. Just like any problem that you may have, the recognition of having that problem is what establishes a course of action. Now it was time for me to focus on my purpose and goals.

I was going to separate these two but I feel they go hand in hand. Establishing my purpose is what helped to set the goals to achieve my purpose. My purpose was to lose weight, become healthy, and have the ability to function as a normal human being.

I set short term goals along the way such as weight, clothing size, and reps in my exercises. I was in such poor shape when I first started that I could only do 5 sit ups and 10 pushups. So at the end of each week I wanted to have a new max in the amount of reps I could do in my exercises. Even an increase of one rep was deemed as an improvement because I knew from my years of playing sports that health and fitness is a marathon and not a sprint. It’s a journey with many peaks and valleys and steady improvement is what you want to see.

I didn’t caught up with the scale because I realize that the way that you feel and the results that you visualize may not reflect on the scales. However, once a month I did weigh myself. Side note, I waited until after the first 90 days to start doing this. I waited because the first few months that you begin a new routine the results are dramatic. I didn’t want to fool myself with the initial success and become disgruntled down the line when things become difficult. I started weighing myself around the time you hit the plateau which forces you to have to push harder. You must also make adjustments to your diet and exercise routine. You can never allow your body to become comfortable with the routine. It must remain in a state of shock to keep the results coming.

With time eating healthier and exercising regularly was no longer something that I had to think about. It became a lifestyle and that’s when you know that you’ve reached success. When you feel guilty about not working out because you simply feel lazy is a sign of a lifestyle change. When you don’t feel the need to have a “cheat meal” because you really enjoy the healthy foods that you eat, that’s the sign of a lifestyle change.

Some of you might be saying that this sounds to simple and boring. It was this simple and should be this simple for a couple of reasons. First, you should avoid anyone that is trying to make this seem difficult because they have an agenda. Though there is a level of sports science and understanding of how the body works involved, you are not training for the Olympics. If you’re a novice at this and someone walks up talking about your “fast twitch muscle fibers” please beware. If they can’t make the science of calorie intake versus calories burned simplistic then don’t listen to them.

Secondly, your purpose and goals should be simplistic and built for the long term and here is why.  Let’s say for example you want to reach the size that you wore in high school for your high school reunion. So you starve yourself and workout twice a day to reach your goal. Your high school reunion comes and you reached your goal for the size and weight that you had in high school. Now that the event has come and gone what’s your purpose? What goals do you have? That short sighted goal alone was a recipe for disaster. Nothing about this produces a lifestyle change. It was all in short term vanity and not for the purpose of longevity.

This journey is far from being boring. When you set long term goals and reach them, it seems that along the way you begin to develop more long term goals. You then develop a lifestyle were you’re constantly pushing the envelope and you love it. My next post will focus on sacrifice and dedication.

 

 

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How I Lost 140 LBS. Facing Reality

In my previous post I discussed the negative consequences of using diet pills. That made me think of my own weight loss program and how it became a lifestyle for me. Like I’ve said many times before, this is what worked for me. However, I would like to use the next several posts detailing how I went about losing 140lbs and kept it off. Everyone is different but hopefully you can take some of the information and apply it for yourself.

Growing up I was always a big dude. I was usually the biggest kid in my classroom. In the fifth grade I was already 5’11 and 200 lbs. However, I was very athletic and played football and basketball during this time.

As I went through middle and high school, I began lifting weights twice a day and excelled in football and track. At this point I weighed 305 lbs and it was solid muscle. I went to college on a football scholarship and unfortunately suffered two knee injuries that ended my football days.

This was the time that I started to become heavily involved in the street life. Everything was about making money, wearing the latest designs, smoking weed, drinking Crown Royal, and flossing in the club. Of course health or anything else was not on my mind. Due to the fact that I was always running in the streets and not lifting weights, I dropped down to about 245 lbs.

This reckless path continued until I got locked up. Not too long after my release I became homeless and was living out of my car. I was eventually blessed with a job at Volvo CE and promised myself that I was going to make up for lost time. I wanted the largest steak that I could find, the thickest burger, and the sweetest desserts. I wanted all of the Crown Royal that one man could consume. So I worked 60-65 hours a week and would eat and drink all weekend long.

So of course the pounds started to pile on but I honestly didn’t pay it any attention. Even when I started shopping at the Big & Tall stores I still didn’t pay any mind to the reality that I was blowing up. This reality did not hit me until one day I struggled to lift my leg up to tie my sneakers. This was something that I had never experienced especially since I was a former athlete.

I then tried to check my blood pressure one day at Wal Mart and my arm would not fit into the cuff. So I finally decided to step on the scale and check my weight. I was blown away to see that I weighed 343 lbs! It was one gut check after another. I finally came to the reality that my behind had become too big to ignore.

This was my moment of truth. I had come to a crossroad where a decision had to be made. The hardest thing for people to do is look in the mirror and be honest with themselves. Reality sucks but denial is death. Regardless of if you are overweight, have high blood pressure, diabetes, or are just in poor shape you must have a reality check. Nothing changes until something changes. And something does not change until you become honest with yourself that something needs to change.

So that was the first step in my journey. I had to face the reality that I needed to start a health journey in the first place. That would be my advice to anyone that’s on the fence about losing weight. Close out what the world and those around you have to say. Look yourself in the mirror and do an honest assessment of your situation. Until you do that I can promise your reality will never change.

My next post will focus on my purpose for losing weight. Establishing your purpose for why you want to lose weight helps to establish your goals and strategy.

 

 


Kill The Diet Pills

Its been within the past couple of years that I’ve come to realize the problem with diet pills. I come across several people everyday that religiously use diet pills. The crazy part is that none of these people use these pills for the purpose of losing weight. They always say that they take them for energy. Furthermore and even crazier to me is the fact they are getting these diet pills prescribed to them by Suboxone clinics.

I’ve often referred to Suboxone doctors as “Quacks” and this proves why. Some of the individuals that are getting these diet pills are thin and don’t need to lose weight. So what would even make these doctors prescribe these harmful pills when there are so many natural alternatives to improve energy?

The individuals taking these diet pills know the consequences of abusing them but do so anyway. Several of them have complained of feeling extremely ill. This is because they are mixing diet pills with Monster Energy Drinks and cigarettes. You damn right you feel sick! Your heart is about to explode and you don’t even realize it.

Regardless of if you’re trying to lose a few pounds or increase your energy there are better alternatives than taking diet pills. Diet pills are dangerous and several brands have already been banned such as Hydroxycut. I want to drop some information on the negative consequences of taking diet pills.

What Are Diet Pills And How Do They Work?

Okay so let’s look at how these pills supposedly work. Diet pills supposedly work by directly influencing your metabolism. These products use caffeine as a main ingredient. Caffeine is a stimulant that impacts the central nervous system and accelerates fat loss through a dangerous process called thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is a process in which the body produces heat to use body fat as energy. Manufacturers of these products boasts the claims of suppressing the appetite and boost your metabolism so that the pounds really melt off during intense workouts.

As I stated earlier, caffeine is used as a main ingredient but other ingredients such as guarana, green tea extract, garcinia cambogia and ephedrine could also be included. Most of these products also boast the claims of using “all natural” ingredients. Look, I’m all about “all natural”. However, I also realize that cow manure is “all natural” but we’re not jumping to swallow that.

There’s an “all natural” ingredient in these products called garcinia cambogia. According to the Journal of Obesity, this ingredient is said to prevent your body from making fat while simultaneously suppressing the appetite. This is also supposedly linked to elevated serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite, sexual desire, sleep, memory, social behavior, and digestion. This is great! A natural ingredient that burns fat and elevates serotonin levels all at the same time! WRONG!!!! According to the Journal of Obesity, this “all natural” ingredient is some “all natural” bulls@$t just like I mentioned earlier. There’s no scientific evidence to even remotely support these claims.

These products are not regulated in the U.S.. There are no mandatory tests or clinical trials to test the ingredients or safety of the product. This is dangerous because even though ephedra is supposed to be banned, how do we know if the product is not being tested. Ephedra was banned due to adverse effects that were linked to deaths. Here are some health risks associated with taking these products given by the Journal of Obesity.

1. Acute Liver Failure

Certain thermogenic supplements have been found to induce acute liver failure. It’s the loss of liver function that happens quickly. This process could happen in a matter of days or weeks. Chronic liver failure happens over a longer period of time. The condition can cause serious health issues, including excessive bleeding and an increase of pressure in the brain.

2. Caffeine Overdose

Its easy to forget that caffeine is a drug. Caffeine is a stimulant. So when taken in large quantities overdoses can occur. Taking the diet pills with energy drinks like I mentioned earlier can lead to an overdose. Symptoms include insomnia, increased anxiety, accelerated heart rate, nervousness, jitteriness, and vomiting.

3. Chest Pain

An ingredient called bitter orange is sometimes used in these products. Bitter orange has been known to cause chest pain, anxiety, and death.

An elevated heart rate and intoxicated feeling from the cocktail of ingredients are also risks associated with diet pills. Check this one out. Some brands such as Alli have been associated with an oily discharge coming from out of your butt due to unabsorbed fat. Unless you are a sodomite, who wants to walk around with the oily booty? That’s crazy to think that a bunch of people are just walking around happily with the oily booty. That’s crazy as hell.

In other words, stay away from the freaking DIET PILLS. Not only are they dangerous but there are great ways to lose weight and improve energy naturally. However, the natural way is always a slower process. We live in a microwave society that wants to see results instantly and if not, we are ready to abort the mission. An old man used to say a “Fast horse doesn’t crap long” and “When you do things fast, crap fails fast”. This goes back to how acute liver failure is associated with diet pills. You want that quick weight loss or boost of energy, so in return you get quick liver failure.

I haven’t discussed this much but since 2011 I have lost 140 lbs. I’ve never been much into taking pictures so I don’t have any photos from when I was 340 lbs. I can’t give any before and after photos and that’s why I never discussed my weight loss. However, I feel the need to now because people are tripping like hell with these gimmicks.  Now, I could have lost more but my wife would have killed me if I became a stick man. I didn’t use any diet pills or other gimmicks being marketed to the people. Its was dedication, discipline, and grind. I know that way seems long but, notice when people lose weight fast, they usually gain it back fast. The results will come if you remain diligent. I understand things like genetics and gender play a role but that can’t be used as an excuse not to put in the work. Saying that we don’t have the time is also not legitimate. We make time for everything else but can’t make time for the maintenance of our body? Take that B.S. somewhere else!

Getting natural energy is the best way to go also. Not only is exercise an energy booster, but there’s a plethora of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and herbal teas that promote energy.

So go natural for real and drop the quick, gimmicky schemes that are going to put you in an early grave. Think it’s about to time to jump into weight loss in the next post.


Africa Receiving Toxic Food From China

I woke up this morning with a video on my news feed regarding China importing toxic food into Africa. Some people might not keep up with global affairs so let’s try to get everyone in the loop.

First, I have been saying since the inception of the Chinese occupation of Africa, that Africa was screwing up. Africa must realize that none of these nations regardless of it’s China, Britain, America, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, or Russia cares about you. They all come in with the same game. They whisper sweet nothings in your ear, colonize you, then begin to rape, rob, and pillage the nation for everything that it’s worth.

It’s a sad reality but that’s what it is. In a nutshell this kind of sums up the relationship between Africa and China. China has a huge need for resources due to consumption of a rapidly growing middle class society. Africa is in need of infrastructure development. In return China has become Africa’s largest trade partner.

I could go into why this is a disaster but then we would have to get into foreign relations and that’s a different discussion. However, one thing that stays on topic with the discussion is China importing toxic foods into Africa. We know about this very well in America. I did a post a few months ago that spoke of how disgusting food from China is. Government officials in Africa stated that the food contained mercury and aluminum.

That’s a part of doing business with China. They will send you fake disgusting food that they wouldn’t feed themselves. There’s no love in my heart for the bastards so I’m glad Trump is having a tariff war with them. Hopefully that will keep their fake food from out of here. Who wants to eat plastic rice and cabbage, diseased meats, and foods loaded with toxins and heavy metals. They have no food regulations so they have no problem with giving you garbage to eat.

Lets take a look at what the toxins in these foods do to you physically.

  • Signs and symptoms of methylmercury poisoning may include:
    • Impairment of peripheral vision
    • Disturbances in sensations (“pins and needles” feelings)
    • Lack of coordination
    • Impairment of speech, hearing, and walking
    • Muscle weakness
  • Elemental (metallic) mercury primarily causes health effects when it is breathed as a vapor where it can be absorbed through the lungs.
  • Signs and symptoms of acute elemental (metallic) mercury poisoning include:
    • Tremors
    • Emotional chchae
    • Insomnia
    • Weakness
    • Muscle atrophy
    • Headaches
    • Twitching
    • Disturbances in sensations
    • Changes in nerve responses
    • Performance deficits on tests of cognitive function.
  • Higher exposures may result in kidney effects, respiratory failure and death

Here are a few symptoms of aluminum toxicity. There are many more if you would like to do some research.

  • confusion
  • muscle weakness
  • bone pain, bone deformities, and fractures
  • seizures
  • speech problems
  • slow growth in children

I could go on forever about the dangers of mercury and aluminium. I have several posts discussing this. I also have a site page discussing the long term dangers of heavy metal toxicity. The part that I want to emphasize is that Africa and other nations need to drop food and hygiene products that come from China. You might have to pay more for the product but so what! Hospital and funeral costs are at an all time high also therefore you will pay one way or the other.

I’m trying to understand why the most minerally rich and fertile land in the world is getting food imported to them. The Motherland needs to get rid of these puppet leaders that are selling out the people for a few trinkets. Get rid of these damn colonizers that have raped the land and the people for centuries. Then gain full control of their resources and land,  and grow their own food!


Disease, Death, And Regrets

I want to start out by saying Rest In Power to my childhood friend Michael Davis whom passed away from health related issues. Gone but never forgotten big homie.

This type of news is the key reason that I started this health journey. A young 37 year old male has now passed away after several years of battling diabetes. This should be alarming to all of us especially if you are African American.

Look, I know for some people the whole health conversation is boring. Its not talking about irrelevant crap like the latest fashion, celebrities, social media beef, perverted sexual deviance, and other things that have made a denigrated society. I know that I will never get as many views and likes as other blogs, but who really gives a damn when 37 year old men are dying from what we once considered diseases for the elderly. If one person benefits from this then my job is done.

So go ahead and play with your health all that you want to. Be in denial about the piss poor condition that you are in. The funeral home is an equal opportunity service provider.

And black men we have definitely got to do better. We are already battling a system that’s specifically designed for our destruction. Are we going to continue to make our demise that much easier by maintaining a totally unhealthy lifestyle? Are you telling me black man that even with death staring you in the face that you still don’t have the discipline and common damn sense to put down that freaking pork chop and doughnut! Just thinking about that is idiotic to me. How in the hell are we supposed to be the warriors and fighters for our families when we aren’t worth a damn physically. Get it together brothers and get some damn discipline with yourselves.

This is not a game for me. My youngest son has lost a grandparent on both sides to cancer. Since I have Chron’s Disease I have an increased risk of getting colon cancer. I also have had other family members that have battled cancer. So are you basically telling me, that me and my son are destined to have cancer? Oh hell no because that beast stops right here with me. I don’t care what any naysayer has to say about it. It’s my job to set a standard for him to live by to avoid these diseases.

Finally, I hadn’t spoke to my friend in many years. I went through a period in my life where I was disconnected from friends and family for over a decade. People passed and I had no idea about it. Now that we are older, many of my friends that I’ve reconnected with realize that our beef was stupid and childish. What you don’t want to happen is to be like me. Don’t be that person that has to live with regrets. Don’t be that person that takes for granted your time with loved ones. Don’t be that person that says you always have tomorrow. Its not some badge of honor to say this but most of you would kill yourself if you had to carry one pound of my cross. I have literally been to hell and back and its no fun at all. Live your life to the fullest and don’t take one second of this thing for granted. Life is not a dress rehersal. You have one shot at this thing and you don’t want to be on your death bed thinking of all your regrets in life.

So take care of yourselves and your loved ones. Treat your body as a holy temple. Cherish your time with your loved ones and let’s chill on the regrets.

 

 

 

 


Jacked Up For Jackfruit!

During my vacation at Gulf Shores, AL, I ate at a restaurant called the Picnic Beach. There was a dish called the Plant Protein Bowl that consisted of smoked chickpeas, grilled onions, grilled peppers, grilled mushrooms, grilled broccoli and cauliflower, brown rice, quinoa, and the Beyond Meat plant based sausages.

I was informed that they were out of the plant based sausages and I was given  choices for a substitute. I had never tried jackfruit and wasn’t very familiar with it but I tried it anyway. I’m a culinary dare devil like that. I have to admit that this was one of the most delicious decisions that I ever made! The combination of the grilled flavor of the fruit and the restaurant’s BBQ mustard sauce was absolutely astounding.

I was initially disappointed that they were out of the plant based sausage, but after tasting the bbq jackfruit I do not care. It’s weird because it looked just like pulled pork. It had a texture just like meat and had a delicious taste that is hard to describe. Splice some tropical fruits and chicken and you have the bbq jackfruit.

I googled the jackfruit and found that it is a very popular meat substitute in the plant based world. Even meat eaters enjoy the occasional bbq jackfruit sandwich. Not only is the jackfruit tasty but it also packs a lot of nutritional content. Here are some of those benefits provided by the Health Beckon.

1. Fights wrinkles:

Dip jackfruit seed in some cold milk for a minute. Grind this well and apply gently on the wrinkles. This can reduce wrinkles in just about 6 weeks. Use regularly for best results.

2. Helps to get a glowing complexion:

You can consume jackfruit seeds directly to prevent constipation. This fibre rich fruit also detoxifies your system to add a glowing complexion.

3. Flawless skin:

Jackfruit seed can give you flawless skin. Soak some dry seed with milk and honey. Grind them into a fine paste and apply on your face. Let it dry, and then wash off to reveal flawless skin in just few minutes.

4. High in protein:

Jackfruit seeds contain a good amount of protein. This can be added to different dishes that you prepare. You can also replace lentils in your daily diet with jackfruit seeds!

5. Promotes hair growth:

Jackfruit seeds can aid in healthy blood circulation that is vital for good hair growth.

6. Vitamin A:

Jackfruit seeds contain vitamin A that is an essential vitamin for healthy hair and to prevent dryness and brittle hair.

7. Immunity:

Jackfruit is a great source of Vitamin C and antioxidants, which can strengthen your immune system. A strong immune system can protect the body from many common diseases such as cough, cold and flu.

8. Energy:

Jackfruit is loaded with carbohydrate and calorie. This is a rich source of simple sugar like fructose and sucrose that gives instant energy. The fruit contains zero cholesterol that makes it a safe and healthy food.

9. Prevents cancer:

Jackfruit has antioxidants, phytonutrients and flavonoid that provide protection from cancer. Antioxidants in jackfruit protect the body from free radicals. Free radicals are produced due to oxidative stress in the body. This damages the DNA of your cell and produces cancer cell. But, antioxidants can neutralize these free radicals to protect DNA from free radicals damage. Jackfruit also provides protection against colon, lung and oral cavity cancer.

10. Maintains blood pressure:

Jackfruit has potassium that maintains the sodium level in the body. Good level of potassium helps to maintain the fluid level to balance electrolyte. Hence, it is useful to reduce high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack.

11. Improves digestion:

Jackfruit is a rich source of dietary fiber that makes it a bulk laxative. This helps to improve digestion and prevents constipation.

12. Prevents colon cancer:

Jackfruit is high in dietary fats that cleanse the toxins from the colon. Hence, it reduces the toxin effects in the colon and gives protection from colon cancer.

Antioxidants in jackfruit protects from cancer, ageing and degenerative disease.

13. Improves eyesight:

Rich antioxidant content in jackfruit increases eye vision and provides protection against cataract and macular degeneration. Jackfruit also contains vitamin A that is a vital nutrient for eye health.

14. Skin health and ageing:

Many natural factors such as increase in age, menopause, and low nutrition cause the body to age. Pollution, UV radiation and smoke also promote ageing process at an early age. Antioxidants present in jackfruit can destroy the free radicals in the body to slow down the ageing process.

15. Asthma:

Jackfruit provides relief to people suffering from asthma. Asthma is a respiratory disorder affecting a number of people today.

16. Bone health:

Jackfruit contains calcium, which strengthens and promotes healthy bone. This can also prevent osteoporosis. Jackfruit also contains good level of potassium, which can decrease the loss of calcium through the kidney and increase bone density.

17. Anemia:

Jackfruit comes loaded with Vitamin A, C, E, K, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Pantothenic acid, Copper, Manganese and Magnesium that are required for blood formation. This also increases your body’s capacity to absorb iron, thus preventing and curing anemia.

18. Cold and infections:

Vitamin C supplements are known to prevent cold and infections. One cup of jackfruit can give your body a good amount of this antioxidant, strengthening your immune system.

19. Regulates blood sugar levels:

High blood sugar level can be caused due to manganese deficiency in the body. Jackfruit has a rich amount of this nutrient and thus helps regulate blood sugar levels in the body.

20. Prevents bone loss:

Jackfruit is rich in magnesium that helps build and strengthen your bones. People who consume potassium and magnesium rich food have higher bone density and stronger bones.

21. Keeps thyroid healthy:

Copper is vital for thyroid metabolism, especially for hormone production and absorption. Jackfruit is filled with this potent micro mineral and keeps your metabolism rate healthy.

22. Supports bowel regularity:

Jackfruit has high a fiber content that can give relief and prevention from constipation.

23. Helps prevent night blindness:

Jackfruit can be very good for your eyes. This ‘jack of all fruits’ contain a good amount of vitamin A and can prevent night blindness.

24. Lowers risk of heart disease:

Jackfruit is very heart-friendly. Vitamin B6 present in the fruit helps to reduce homocystein levels in your blood and keeps your heart hale and hearty!

25. Ulcers:

Jackfruit has strong anti-ulcerative properties that can cure ulcers and many other digestive system disorders.

USDA Nutrition Chart Of Jackfruit:

Principle

Nutrient Value

Percentage of RDA

Energy 95 Kcal 5%
Carbohydrates 23.5 g 18%
Protein 1.72 g 3%
Total Fat 0.64 g 3%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 1.5 g 4%

Vitamins

Folates 24 µg 6%
Niacin 0.920 mg 6%
Pyridoxine 0.329 mg 25%
Riboflavin 0.055 mg 4%
Thiamin 0.105 mg 9%
Vitamin A 110 IU 3.5%
Vitamin C 13.7 mg 23%
Vitamin E 0.34 mg 2%

Electrolytes

Sodium 3 mg 0%
Potassium 303 mg 6.5%

Minerals

Calcium 34 mg 3.4%
Iron 0.60 mg 7.5%
Magnesium 37 mg 9%
Manganese 0.197 mg 8.5%
Phosphorus 36 mg 5%
Phosphorus 21 mg 3%
Selenium 0.6 mg 1%
Zinc 0.42 mg 4%

Phyto-nutrients

Carotene-ß 61 µg
Crypto-xanthin-ß 5 µg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 157 µg

As we can see this fruit is loaded with benefits and I suggest that you give jackfruit a try. I will be on the lookout for this gem in the health food stores.


Vacation And Your Overall Health

It has been well over a week since my last post. I went on vacation with the family and decided not to even think about posting anything. Though blogging is not my job it does take effort. Pulling together your ideas, making those ideas clear and coherent, doing proper research, checking your sources, thinking of ways to gain more views, and many other things demand a strong focus. That is what I wanted to avoid.

I had a co-worker text me about work and I totally blew him off. No, no, no people. This was all about seeing the joy on the face of my loved ones.

Look, I’m not the one to paint little punkdafied fluff realities of what life is. I’m going to give you the true reality of what things are. Lets be brutally honest and keep it 100%. Life can be good but it can suck like hell and be a pain in the ass! That’s just what it is. You go through one adversity just for preparation for the next adversity.  You can be flying high one minute and in five minutes you find out that your heat pump or hot water heater has gone out. Today you are enjoying a laugh with the person that you love and tomorrow you’re planning their funeral.

This is what people call “life”. And regardless of what you’re going through the world doesn’t stop and nobody cares. You have to always find a way to keep fighting, never give up, and bet on yourself regardless of the odds.

All of this causes stress and tension. Stress and tension causes an unhealthy body, mind, spirit, and relationships. You can become unproductive and slothful. This is when a good vacation is very much necessary. A small break from your reality. A moment to recharge your brain and spirit. Time to reflect and clear yourself of negative vibrations.

Vacations have been scientifically proven to improve your overall health. Here’s what scientists say about vacations and health.

1. Stress reduction. A study released last year by the American Psychological Association concluded that vacations work to reduce stress by removing people from the activities and environments that they associate with stress and anxiety. Similarly, a Canadian study of nearly 900 lawyers found that taking vacations helps alleviate job stress. The effects last beyond the duration of the vacation, too: A small study from the University of Vienna found that after taking time off from work, vacationers had fewer stress-related physical complaints such as headaches, backaches, and heart irregularities, and they still felt better five weeks later.

2. Heart disease prevention. A host of studies have highlighted the cardiovascular health benefits of taking a vacation. In one, men at risk for heart disease who skipped vacations for five consecutive years were 30 percent more likely to suffer heart attacks than those who took at least a week off each year. Even missing one year’s vacation was associated with a higher risk of heart disease. Studies find similar results with women: Women who took a vacation once every six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop heart disease, have a heart attack, or die of a coronary-related cause than those who took at least two vacations a year. These statistics are not to scare you but to persuade you that time off is important to your health in the long run.

3. Improved productivity. In our perpetual rush to be productive, we often undermine our very ability to consistently perform at peak levels. Getting more done in less time allows us to get ahead and be more productive, but it takes consistent focus to be truly productive. Professional services firm Ernst & Young conducted an internal study of its employees and found that for each additional 10 hours of vacation time employees took, their year-end performance ratings improved 8 percent. What’s more, frequent vacationers were significantly less likely to leave the firm. Another study by the Boston Consulting Group found that high-level professionals who were required to take time off were significantly more productive overall than those who spent more time working. When you’re more productive, you’re happier, and when you’re happier, you excel at what you do.

4. Better sleep. Restless nights and disrupted sleep are common complaints–often stemming from the fact that we simply have too much on our minds. When we can’t stop the chatter it affects our sleep, and a lack of sleep leads to less focus, less alertness, impaired memory, an increased likelihood of accidents and a decreased quality of life. Researchers say, that vacations can help interrupt the habits that disrupt sleep, like working late into the night or watching a backlit screen before bed. If you have stress from work and you find your sleep is disrupted because of anxiety or tension, take time off and learn to reset your sleep pattern.

I understand that not everyone has the ability to take expensive vacations. I’m blessed enough to do it now, but I didnt take many vacations growing up because of money. I have also been homeless so I know what being broke is all about. Your vacation doesn’t have to be lavish and expensive. Your vacation is all that you make it. Even if it’s only two days, make it a relaxing and adventurous two days.

So take a break, enjoy your life and family, and give the middle finger to all of your troubles.