Health: Chance or Choice

Larry Burback




To begin the seminar, Burback has the members do some brief isometric exercises to stimulate their blood flow. Anything where you can stress yourself to stimulate some blood flow will create oxygenation of your blood. This will get more oxygen to the brain, which will clear your head. This is one reason we take breaks during the day – to clear our minds so we can be more productive in our tasks.





If you are tired, having trouble sleeping at night, feel depressed, or have poor blood circulation, these are all signals your body is sending you. The most important thing about health is learning to be aware of the signals your body sends you. The extent to which you are aware of yourself and your own body will have an effect on your interpersonal communications.


As the CEO, you are the role model for your entire company. There is probably nothing that has more direct impact upon how effective you are and what your longevity is than how you maintain and take care of yourselt How you maintain your health impacts every aspect of your life.


Many people feel that nagging little complaints like poor circulation or feeling tired are just part of getting older. This may be true, but it is also your body’s way of telling you something is going wrong. If you ignore the signals they will progress into an illness. From illness it goes into disease and then premature death. We have come to accept a lot of things as part of the aging process, but the body is really designed to last up to 120 years under optimal conditions.


One problem is that many people turn over all accountability for their health to doctors. This is easier to do than taking a hard look at what they are doing in their lives that contributes to their health and well being. The other main problem is that people have so many priorities in their lives that it can be hard to put a priority on the things needed to maintain good health.


You have no control over your chronological age, but you do have some control over your health age. The daily choices you make directly impact what you are able to do and how you feel. These choices dramatically impact your longevity, and the older you get, the more critical the choices become.


The Stanford Institute found nine critical factors that contribute to health and well being:


  1. Adequate sleep: 7 to 8 hours is optimum. It takes this long to go through three REM cycles, which gives your body complete and total rest.
  2. Controlling body fat: Body fat is associated with the three main killers: heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
  3. Wearing seat belts: Statistics show you are safer with your seat belt on.
  4. Eating regular meals: Regular meals is defined as eating in small amounts five to six times a day. This elevates the blood sugar and keeps it on an even keel. This also contributes to fat loss.
  5. Eating breakfast: This is the most important meal of the thy. It doesn’t have to be huge, but it is important to eat in the morning.
  6. No drugs: This is obvious.
  7. No smoking: If you only did one thing in your life, stopping smoking would be the most impactful.
  8. Minimize alcohol intake: Anything more than 1 to 2 oz. per day begins to have a detrimental effect.
  9. Regular exercise: This will be covered in detail.




One of the reasons it takes so long to effect change in our lives is that our bodies are incredible adaptive tools. They will take the abuses and punishment for a long time, until one day you get a major wakeup call, such as a heart attack or cancer. At that point people either make the changes or check out.


One and a half million people will have heart attacks this year, and 1/3 of them will die from them. Half of those attacks occur in people under age 65. Even children are beginning to suffer heart attacks because of poor lifestyles.


At birth, the coronary arteries are very open and pliable. Our lifestyles build up plaque on those arteries, which causes them to harden. Stress reactions can create lesions in the arterial walls, cholesterol builds up in the lesions, then it calcifies and the artery begins to close up. When the heart is stressed and pumping hard to push blood through the clogged artery, a piece of plaque can break off and end up clogging the entire artery. Then you have a major attack and it’s all over. The majority of these attacks occur with no warning at all, except for the little signals your body sends you but you ignore.

Our society has imposed lack of movement on us – elevators, escalators, automobiles, etc. People will drive their cars two blocks to the store rather than walk. We wear tight clothing, which restricts movement. The body needs movement to survive and be efficient. Without movement things atrophy, which has an effect upon your resistance and immune system.



Aerobic exercise is the most beneficial exercise for the body. Aerobic simply means “with oxygen”. Aerobic exercise is best because it works the heart muscle, which is the most important muscle in the body.


To get an aerobic workout you have to achieve the target heart rate. Each person has a different range which makes up the target heart rate. At this point, Burback passes out a form to help people determine their own target rate. The training zone, which is 60-85% of your maximum heart rate, is the range where you want to be during your workouts.


Optimum aerobic workouts come when you stay in the training zone for at least twenty minutes. You can determine your heart rate during exercise by counting the beats for ten seconds and multiplying by six. If you stop for a whole minute, your heart rate will drop and you won’t get an accurate count of the actual rate while exercising. You get the same benefit with your heart working at the low end of the training zone as when it as the high end of the zone. You don’t have to get into serious pain to get the benefit of aerobic exercise.


It doesn’t make any difference what form your exercise takes as long as you do it for twenty minutes with your heart rate in the target zone. This is the key to exercise. There are any number of activities that you can do to get effective exercise. Walking is one of the best.


Anaerobic means “without oxygen”. An example of this would be playing racquetball. You normally push yourself so hard that you can’t keep up the rate and you have to rest. You can’t keep up with the need for oxygen. Racquetball tends to be anaerobic because the movements are fast and abrupt, and there is stopping in between. This doesn’t mean it isn’t good for you. You are getting some benefit. But you aren’t getting optimum benefit because your heart is going out of the target range at both ends.


You could make racquetball into an aerobic exercise by slowing it down to slow, continuous volleys and not resting in between points.


To bum fat from your body, the exercise has to be easy. You want to do longer, slower exercises that keep you at the low end of your training zone. Fat is a great source of fuel. The body knows this and stores it all over the body. However, it requires a tremendous amount of oxygen to metabolize it. The harder the exercise the less oxygen is available, and the less fat you will bum. To burn fat the exercise must be continuous and use the same muscles. That’s why walking, running, and cycling are sogood, because they are continuous motions with the same muscles. Aerobics classes are great for flexibility, strength and conditioning your heart, but aren’t that good for burning body fat because the motions for the muscle groups aren’t continuous.


FIT Formula: This is all you need to do for optimum health:


  • Frequency: Three times a week.
  • Intensity: 60-85% of your maximum heart rate.
  • Time: 20 minutes minimum.


Considering the other factors, such as warming up, changing clothes, showering, and getting to and from wherever you go to work out, you’re looking at about 1.5 hours for three times a week. That is all you need for optimum fitness. The time of day makes no difference. Whatever fits your schedule best will work for you.





There are some quick and easy ways to measure your fitness level. One is your resting heart rate. Take your pulse for a ten second count and multiply it by six. That is your resting heart rate. The average is between 60 and 80. Finely conditioned athletes have heart rates in the 50’s and sometimes even the 40’s. Some people are genetically conditioned to have higher or lower heart rates. The lower your resting heart rate, the more efficient your heart is working.


  • Blood pressure: 120/70 is the norm.
  • Cholesterol level: Under 200 is good.
  • Ratio between HDL/total cholesterol: This is more important than total cholesterol level. Males should be about 4.5-1. Females about 4.1-1.
  • Body fat percentage: 12-20% is good for males; 20-30% is good for females.


If you are above average in one or more of these areas, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have heart disease. But it is a signal that you should be aware of, and you should get a good checkup. Monitoring yourself for these vital signs on a regular basis is the key.

If it is so easy to stay fit, and it takes so little time, why do so many people avoid it? One reason is that exercise is associated with pain. It is a given that all organisms, including human beings, seek to avoid pain. The idea that exercise has to be painful is a myth. Exercise does not have to be painful or even overly strenuous. All you need is movement to get your heart rate into the target area.


The primary reason most people don’t exercise is that they don’t make it enjoyable or fun. They don’t put it as a priority in their lives because they don’t enjoy doing it. You are never too old, too out of shape, or too far gone to begin a fitness routine for yourself. You just have to be patient. One problem is that we live in an “instanC society, where we expect instant gratification and instant solutions. Fitness isn’t like that. You must begin with slow, gradual change or you will do much more harm than good.


For every year you have been inactive aerobically, it will take one month to come back to a healthy level. Patience is the key. Exercise is not something you should do until you get fit. It is something you have to do the rest of your life. It all boils down to an attitude – an attitude of how you want to live your life. Find something that you enjoy so much you want to do it all the time. DO SOMETHING!!





Unfortunately, many CEOs don’t institute any kind of wellness or fitness programs within their businesses until they themselves have a heart attack or bypass surgery. There are many practical benefits from getting your employees involved in corporate fitness programs. The major benefit is improved attitudes. It doesn’t have to be a major, full blown program. As long as they see you backing something that contributes to their health and well being, you will get more loyalty to the company, which translates into less absenteeism and increased productivity.


It doesn’t have to cost you big bucks. There is an initial expense of time and money up front, but there are also companies that can assist you in establishing the programs. It can also be as simple as polling your employees to find out what type of program they would be interested in and what their level of participation would be. This is not something mandatory you want to try to force down everybody’s throats. It is something you make available to employees. It will likely start out with a small group and grow bit by bit. Just as for yourself, don’t expect instant major results.



Fitness isn’t the cure-all for all problems. The other side of the equation is nutrition.


There is no food that is inherently bad for you – from prime ribs to Twinkies. What is bad is the patterns that you get into, because people tend to eat the same way all the time. Food is what we use to fuel our bodies. It is vital to our overall fitness and health.


Ninety percent of the cells in our bodies turn over every seven weeks. What you put into your mouth has a direct impact on the body’s ability to rejuvenate and replenish cells. You literally are what you eat.


Just as aerobic exercise can assist in raising HDL levels and lowering total cholesterol levels, diet can do the same thing. Six out of nine critical health factors involve what you put into your mouth. You are in charge of what goes into your mouth. You can go a long time without exercising, but not very long without eating.


One main problem is the food industry. Their main concern is not serving your nutritional needs; their main concern is making money. The food industry caters to the belief that if your taste buds are enjoying themselves, you must be getting nutrition. This is changing to some extent because of consumer awareness, but for the most part the food industry is still into “face entertainment”.


Food provides us with protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and water. How we combine these things is what helps us to rejuvenate our bodies. When you think about it, it is quite amazing how the body actually transforms the food we eat into our physical makeup. We put things into our bodies that we would never put into our cars. You wouldn’t put the wrong fuel in your car because it would cost you big bucks in repair bills. The same is true for your body. Putting in the wrong fuel costs you in repair bills. Awareness is the key when it comes to diet. You need to make conscious choices as opposed to unconscious eating.


FAT: This is public enemy #1. We need a certain amount of fat in our diet for cell membranes and hormonal production. Fat is also a great source of energy (9 calories per gram as opposed to 4 cpg for protein). But most Americans consume way too much fat. Eating high levels of fat will make you fatter because it takes 8 times more energy to digest carbohydrates than it does fat.


Average daily intake for Americans:


  • 30% – carbohydrates
  • 45%-fat
  • 25% – protein

Optimal diet:


  • 65% – carbohydrates
  • 20%-fat
  • 15% – protein


Carbohydrates are clearly energy foods. These are what the body prefers to eat.

There are two types of fat – saturated and unsaturated. Most saturated fats come from animal products. The two exceptions are coconut oil and palm oil. These two are actually more saturated than animal fat. Unsaturated fat comes from vegetables. There are two types of these

– poly and mono.


At room temperature, saturated fats are solid and unsaturated fats are liquid. Saturated fats contribute to heart disease by elevating cholesterol levels. For a number of years people have been shifting from animal fats to vegetable fats. This doesn’t actually decrease the percentage of fat taken in, but it does shift from saturated to unsaturated. Now cancer is on the increase. Polyunsaturates are unstable molecules, and can go rancid in our bodies.


Saturated fat raises blood cholesterol levels. You can be on a cholesterol free diet, but if you are eating a lot of saturated fats, your cholesterol level will go up. So, beware of products that say “No Cholesterol’ on the label. Instead of using animal fat they will use either palm oil or coconut oil, which are worse than animal fat.


Margarines that are hydrogenated so they can remain solid at room temperature are almost as bad as saturated fats because the hydrogen put back in them makes them saturated again. You might as well be eating the butter again. The critical point isn’t so much what you are eating, but how much.            –


It takes 8-12 hours for fat to be digested and utilized in the body.


PROTEIN: Americans eat too much protein also. There is a myth that we need it to build muscles. That is false. Hard work builds muscles. Protein is good for rebuilding cells, for building enzymes and for providing vitamins.


A 170 lb. man needs only 3 oz. of protein a day. Most people consume more than that every meal. The equation for optimal intake is .8 grams protein per kilogram of weight. The average digestion time for protein is 6-8 hours. Excess protein in the diet can create all kinds of dehydration processes. Excess protein is broken down into nitrogen, ammonia, uric acid, urea and urine, all of which are very toxic to the body. In the process, the body has to draw a lot of water to flush it out of the system. People that go on high protein diets lose a lot of weight, but it is all water weight.

It is rare to get protein by itself. Foods high in protein are almost always high in fat. Examples are:


  • T-bone steak: 20% protein, 80% fat
  • Cheddar cheese: 25% protein, 75% fat
  • Chicken (with skin): 60% proteit., 40% fat
  • Chicken (without skin): 85% protein, 15% fat
  • Peanuts: 25% protein, 75% fat
  • Filet of sole: 70% protein, 30% fat


Remember, none of these are inherently bad for you. What counts is how often you are eating them.


CARBOHYDRATES: These are the primary source of food for the body. Most vitamins and minerals come from complex carbohydrates. Fiber comes only from complex carbos. Glucose, the only thing on which the brain functions, comes from complex carbos.


Carbohydrates are sugar, but it is where it is in the molecular structure that determines whether it is simple or complex. Simple means tbe structure is very short and will get digested very quickly (less than 20 minutes). Complex means the structure is longer and will take longer to digest (2-4 hours).


  • Simple: Sugar, brown sugar, glucose, dextrose, honey, fructose.
  • Complex: Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, etc.

The more you process something, the more it goes from being complex to simple.


The body has a “dumb” organ, called the pancreas. It’s only job is to dump insulin into the bloodstream when it sees glucose (sugar) coming in. It almost always overshoots, especially if you are taking in simple carbos. You eat something with a lot of sugar, get a huge boost from the sugar, the pancreas dumps too much insulin to regulate the sugar, and suddenly you have no energy. This is called the “sugar blues”.


Most people think starches are fattening, but it is what you put on them that makes them so. A 6 oz. baked potato has only 110 calories. If you take that potato and cut it into french fries, you get 550 calories. Six ounces of potato chips have 990 calories.

There is a peculiar notion in this country, which is supported by the medical profession, that there is no connection between what we eat and how we feel. What you eat has a dramatic impact on how you feel and how you perform. The first question a doctor should ask you is “what have you been eating?”.





If you are eating a decent diet, getting enough sleep, and have moderate amounts of stress in your life, you probably don’t need vitamin or mineral supplements. But, if something is out of wack – you have a lot of stress, aren’t sleeping regularly, or aren’t eating regular meals – it may be a good idea to take supplements. It doesn’t matter if the vitamins are natural or synthetic because the body can’t tell the difference. It processes them the same.


If you do take them, Burback recommends a multiple balanced vitamin/mineral supplement. Keep it balanced. Anytime you start mega loading, you get out of balance. The vitamin industry is a huge billion dollar industry. Beware of many of the claims you read about the benefits of taking vitamin supplements.





Diets not only don’t work, they make you fatter if they are done without exercise. Ninety-eight percent of people who diet, gain it back because they don’t change their eating or lifestyle habits. They go on a regime, get off it, and all the weight comes back.


Fifty percent of what you lose on a diet is water; 25% is muscle; 25% is fat. The only thing that can burn fat off your body is a muscle. When you diet without exercising you are taking away the body’s ability to take off fat. And when you gain it back, you gain back 50% water and 50% fat. You are doing yourself a huge disfavor by dieting.


The body has a “fat thermometer”. The body holds onto fat any time you reduce your caloric intake because it senses starvation. It will reduce your metabolism in order to conserve energy. This is why eating 5-6 small meals a day will help you lose weight. Skipping meals will trigger the reduction of your metabolic rate. The more often you diet, the quicker the body goes into the fat conservation mode.


If you try to lose weight it is critical to exercise. Exercise also provides a “bonus burn”. Six to twenty four hours after you have completed the exercise the body is still burning more calories per minute than when you don’t exercise. The 80-20 diet – 80% of the time, pay attention to what you are eating. 20% of the time, get decadent. Eat a huge steak or a hot fudge sundae and eat it with gusto. Trying to deny yourself all the time will usually cause you to go off on a binge.





EATING Our: You have to be willing to go against the tide. You have to ask a lot of questions about how the food is prepared. Fat is everywhere. Try to eat “live food”. Eat whole wheat bread instead of enriched bread.~­1’RAVELING: Bring your own food on the plane. Even vegetarian meals on planes can be very

high fat, especially is there is a lot of sauces. Carry food with you at all times – even in the car. Burback carries little Tupperware containers of oats, grape nuts and raisins.


BECOME A LABEL READER: Most foods now tell you what the exact contents are. To determine the percentage of fat, divide the grams of fat by the total calories per serving. Multiply this number by nine (number of calories per gram of fat) by the total number of calories. This will give you the percentage of fat in calories.


Keep a log of what you eat for one week. Write down everything. Don’t make any changes in your diet as you are keeping the log. This identifies patterns. The idea is not to totally eliminate foods but to change patterns of eating.


EXERCISE: Take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators. If you are waiting in airports, go for walks. Walking is one of the best forms of aerobic and fat burning exercises there is. Look for ways that you make things easy and convenient for yourself. Don’t take the car to go two blocks to the store.


KEEP IT SIMPLE: Don’t make things complicated. Fitness should be fun and easy. Movement is the name of the game.



  • Warmup
  • Activity
  • Cooldown


  • Stretch
  • Relaxation

This is the formula to follow for any kind of aerobic or anaerobic exercise. Spend about five minutes warming up before you get into the main activity. Afterwards, gently taper down from the main activity by doing the same activity very lightly for about five minutes.


Stretch after the activity. Doing it before tends to create more injury because the muscles are cold. Deep stretching should come after the cooldown. There should be no pain during stretching. Following this formula will eliminate a lot of the pain and discomfort you may experience from exercising.




TEC – Health – Chance or Choice