Healthy Step 5


This is Casey (eco-dog), now controlling the website. (you can tell it’s me by the bold type.)  I lured Joe into a closet and locked the door; I can hear him cursing me from inside. This is a risky career move on my part but at the ripe age of eleven (that’s 77 in human years) I may not have too many more chances for a career here at the website. Joe says that I may have only a few more years to live and after this mutiny, I may have  even less.

What’s that, Joe? You’ll have to yell a little louder; it’s hard to hear you through the door. Oh, he wants me to ask you if you saw your doctor if you have any of the risk factors previously described, because we are going to start moving in this healthy step.

While Joe is indisposed ( I am in so much trouble), lets start your changeover with breathing. As you sit there reading this you are breathing  every 2 or 3 seconds, right? Your lungs expand automatically. You don’t think about it at all. Now exhale by consciously tightening your tummy muscles. It takes effort and is not automatic. This “abdominal breathing”  is the way cigarette smokers have to breath after their lungs get burned out from smoke. It is called abdominal breathing, but I like belly breathing better. You can breath this way as you read this health step or whenever you sit.  Try it when you see a 20 minute lecture by your boss coming your way, or someone is droning on  about “their day”.  It takes more energy to breath this way and you are building a body that can burn more energy each day.

Now I am going to take you for a walk. People don’t walk much in this country but in other places, like Mongolia or Venice, they walk everywhere. Americans like to drive everywhere. Here is a little poem I wrote. See, Joe doesn’t do stuff like this, does he?

Walking makes you healthy.
Driving makes you fat.
Even a dog can see that.

If President Obama took away all our cars, we would get thin and his Medicare fund would grow, not shrink. Maybe I should be one of his advisors.
So here we are walking along. Here is a picture of your foot from one of Joe’s books on anatomy.(Grant’s Anatomy)

Notice the long achilles tendon and length of the foot. The calf is designed to pull the heel and propel the person along at high or low speeds. Just by the design of our feet, we can be sure that 100,000 years ago, we were creatures that were fast runners and very efficient walkers. At walking speeds you burn about 100 calories per mile. If you tighten your butt with every step, you burn more calories and get a better looking butt about a year later. You can also do your belly breathing and use your tight tummy muscles to pull your body in a twisting motion with each step. You can also bend your knees a little with every step and burn more calories. Sure, you’ll look like a crab, walking along the sidewalk but you are gaining muscle strength and burning  more calories. If you have arthritis behind your kneecap, you can stir up some pain with crab walking, but that is your problem. Don’t come to me with your complaints, I’m only a dog.

I found some old videos of Joe talking about health step 5 and and demonstrating some of the exercises you can do throughout the day to protect your muscles from shrinking.


He isn’t exactly a great speaker. Here he is doing his “belly breathing” to burn more calories and keep his abdominal muscles from disappearing.

Now he talks about altering your gait as you walk around during the day; making these changes allows you to keep your muscle strength and burn more calories. He could never get me to change the way I walk, but I’m not overweight either.
Now he is really freaking me out. I wonder why big pharma doesn’t  just make a health pill that takes care of this for y?


Next he talks about balance. This is a problem that humans have because they don’t walk on all fours like dogs  (you don’t see dogs falling down the stairs and tripping over rugs when they walk around in the dark). Joe’s balance isn’t what it used to be when I was a pup, so I may out-live him.

If thindex sit-ups are so easy to do, why can’t I do them? I used to lick his face when he did the morning sit-ups but he has forbidden me from doing that. You have no idea what I suffer here.  Joe says Americans have forgotten how to do them. “Crunches” are the thing now so it is more proper to say that Americans don’t do “crunches”. A sit-up works on your core muscles. Sit up with knees bent and go forward toward your knees then back up straight. As the days go by you can bend backwards a little to eventually go all the way flat.

Or you can clasp your hands in front and work your arms with each sit up to strengthen them as well. When you get so you can do 50 sit-ups then get a 3 pound weight and put it behind your neck and do half ad many. You can use bigger and bigger weights depending on if you are a “manly man” or a “manly woman”. Joe says to be careful here because doing sit-ups with weights can generate abdominal and inguinal hernias if you progress too fast or have a tendency for hernias (you might think twice about taking advice from a guy who gets locked in a closet by a dog)

We have worked our way down to push-ups. He shows the easy and hard ways to do them. When you straighten out your body for a “real”push-up you are using all your muscles to hold your body straight, so it is a good overall exercise.

Well, the last video is on pull-ups. I’ve never seen a dog do one so they are not for me. Joe says President Obama can do them but I don’t know who he is. I’m glad he clears up the part about “cheating at pull-ups” because that sounds like a pretty serious offense.

Work to be done

You may be wondering “How many miles do I have to walk to get off this damn fat”.  Even if you are not asking that question, I’ll tell you anyway. Go to a BMI chart and look up your height and a BMI of 21. (

You can then get an idea of what you should weigh. Here’s another method: a healthy weight for a 5 foot tall man is 106 pounds and 6 pounds per inch above 5 feet. For women, a five footer should weigh 100 pounds and 5 pounds more per inch. This is another way to get a weight for yourself that is thin or close to thin. Subtract that from your current weight; let’s say the difference is 50 pounds. You need to lose 50 pounds. Multiply 50 times 3500 is 175000 calories to lose. (3500 calories per pound of fat) If you walked 2 hours a day at 3 miles per hour that is 600 calories per day. If you drink 2 sodas a day and give it up, that is another 300 calories so that is a net loss of 900 calories a day. If you divide that into 175000, you get 194 days or around 6 months. I would not even be more than half way through my roses by then. After you have achieved your goal, I hope you’ll still come by and check out the rose of the day, and email it to a friend (or enemy!). Nothing annoys people more than your success.

Moving around

Go slow with your walking program at first. Walk on grass, dirt, or bark dust if you can. Asphalt and cement are harder on the body than the softer surfaces. Whether you walk, jog, or run, you will be able to go farther and longer on softer surfaces. This is most important in running. Walking shoes are usually homely in appearance and stiff back around the heel. Running shoes generally good walking shoes, too.

Make exercise a priority when you plan your day. Your kids, spouses, dinner, work, are all very important, but the most important thing in your day is your exercise. If you don’t take care of yourself you may die early and be unable to care for your loved ones. If you your walking, then you will be walking with your loved ones for many, many years and be there for them. Joe’s dad was a banker who stressed “paying yourself first”. I’m Casey the lousy retriever and I say “Take care of yourself  first”. Joe tells me that new habits can be  tough to establish, but after the third week, exercise becomes part of your routine. If  you miss a day, make it up by working out twice the next possible day.

Summary of healthy step 5

The goal of healthy step #5 is to get started on an exercise program that works for you. Commitment is the key to the slow progress through the health steps. Without commitment, there can be no lifetime success.  There is no point  worrying about food and diet, which are coming up soon if you can’t get the monkeys out of the wheelhouse and take physical control of your body. I’m just a dog but from my standpoint,  the best way for humans to convert sitting to walking is by giving up TV, but hey, TV means nothing to me.

OOps. I forgot about Joe, stuck  in the closet. I hope there is enough oxygen in there for him. What is oxygen anyway?  I had better let him out or I may or may not see you at healthy step 6. I’ve never been to the dog pound place, although Joe drives me by there a lot. He says it has been upgraded to “animal shelter” which sounds much better. Is it like a “hotel”?

I'm in a little trouble here.

He says that there are a lot of bad retriever dogs there that I will learn to like. Maybe, just maybe, if you visitors do your exercises each and every day, then Joe will forgive me and I won’t have to share a cell with some “big bad retriever”. If you don’t see new roses every day, then you’ll know Joe’s still mad at me.

Joe is yelling from the closet for you to get started doing some of these daily exercises like belly breathing, thindex situps, pushups and walking. Next up is healthy step #6 where we talk about the triggers that influence people to stick with the strengthening and diet program. Think of it like a fork in the road with one road going to diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer and the other road leading to a longer life with fewer pills and doctor visits. Which road will you select?

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Lodge Overview

Welcome to Thindex – your guide to better health and life.

This website is a little off–the–wall (like all of us, maybe). I'm not trying to sell you anything, and I'm not trying to collect information about you.

The purpose of this website is simply to help you improve your health and, ultimately, the quality of your life and eventual destiny.

That's it. No hidden agenda.

This website is my push to get you to change So, come on into the lodge and feel free to browse around for a bit. I hope that you find the information helpful.

Joseph R. McFarland MD

What you can find in the Lodge:
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Where do I start?

Thindex is an easy going website, focusing on your health improvement. Getting healthier isn't complicated or expensive. If you do it without outside help you will have a much better chance for permanent lifetime success.

  1. step one: Click on "Calculate my thindex". Enter the data requested. You will need an accurate time that it takes for you to walk or run a mile to get the complete data for your thindex. The dot between the green and red lines is where you fit in to your age group. Hanging close to the green line is where you want to be. Below zero is not good unless you are very old. Most Americans will be below zero.
  2. Step two: Use the information from Step one to make a decision about improving your health and destiny from this moment on.
  3. Step three: Cruise around the website and check a few of my blogs, the videos, the guest lecturers, pollution and diet news. Also check the rose of the day and Casey's Corner for kids.
  4. Step four: You can use this site and the 9 health steps to move yourself towards better health. Or you can do your own thing and check your progress with our calculator.
This site is put together by Joseph McFarland MD. As an Orthopedic Surgeon, I have seen some nasty wounds over the last 40 years. I have never seen wounds as bad as what we Americans are doing to ourselves by eating unhealthy foods and not getting nearly enough exercise. These wounds can heal if you reverse the cause. The information you need is all here and it is all free.

Calculate my Thindex

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Health Steps: There are 9 progressive health steps that ease you slowly towards better health.


Blogs: A variety of health topics


Guest speakers: Talks by a variety of diet experts


Recommended reading: Diet and exercise books in which we believe.


Rose of the day: Daily rose with comments that you can mail to friends or enemies, telling them how you are doing.


Casey's corner: Pollution and general advice for young kids.


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Why pick on soda pop as the first thing to eliminate as you go through the health steps?

Look up Sylvia Booth Hubbard – soda. She lists an even longer list of soda pop related problems. "Thirteen new ways colas ruin your health" (protected)

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Potatoes are a good starch source but when overheated above boiling produce acrylamide , a known carcinogen. These products are oversalted and some still contain trans fats which cause arteriosclerosis.