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Two pounds a week can change a lot
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I scored 50 pounds of fresh harvested almonds Sunday.

It was the best $100 I’ve spent in a long time.

For me, that is the equivalent of a 150-day supply.

What makes it all the more incredible is that you couldn’t have paid me 20 or 30 years ago to even eat an almond.

And now at a third a pound a day I make the farmers in the Blue Diamond commercials of “a can a week is all we ask” fame seem like they’re begging people to ration their almond consumption.

Perhaps the best part about these almonds is they come from orchards that I bicycle or jog past year-round. They are the epitome of fresh. And so are a ton of other things that we too often avoid buying in favor of pre-packaged creations despite the fact we live in the richest agricultural valley on the planet.

Yet we all seem to eat as if we’re in Siberia.

My diet today rarely varies. Just ask the clerks at SaveMart. Each week its seven oranges, 14 apples, seven bananas, 45 yogurts, seven salad mixes, seven 16-ounce containers of low-fat cottage cheese, two heads of broccoli, carrots, three large bottles of V8 Fusion, and a watermelon. Toss in 14 plain Boca Burger patties from Costco and you have my basic weekly intake.

Yes, I do eat junk. I eat cookies and will get one of those killer Nestle cookie ice cream sandwiches two or three times a week plus a Jamba Juice. And ever so often I will eat out.

People who ask what I eat almost always ask if I get tired of it. The short answer is no. It is a taste you acquire.

There was a time I couldn’t get through a day without consuming a king-sized bag of plain M&Ms and a 16-ounce box of Cheez-Its. No, that wasn’t when I was really overweight and tipped the scales at 320 pounds. That was when I was in the 195-pound range.

Four years ago I zeroed in on what I’m eating now. I did not change my calorie intake - it still tops 3,500 calories a day - but I have now weighed 168 pounds for the past three years. My exercise patterns have changed but not the amount of time I spend working out.

There was also a time I couldn’t even phatom the idea of exercising per se let alone working out every day. It feels great to jog in the rain or to work up a sweat pounding the pavement on a 100-degree day.

Changing isn’t easy. It is all small steps. The point is, though, you can change.

My almond consumption is a prime example. I used to virtually mainline sugar. Now my taste buds are convinced nothing is better than natural almonds. Yes, there were honey roasted almonds and smoked almonds along the way but now they don’t taste nearly as good as almonds as they were meant to be eaten.

Eating less processed food and more fruits and vegetables has provided other advantages. Everything from bursitis to arthritis issues have virtually vanished. I find myself with more energy.

It isn’t about how you look but how you feel.

If I ever get even a two-pack it would qualify as the miracle of the century. But I can - and have - gotten my resting heart rate down to 50, pushed my blood pressure to the low side and virtually never get sick.

You don’t need anyone to nag you. You don’t need a doctor to lecture you nor do you have to wait for a miracle pill, diet, some new-fangled tummy trimmer, or a revolutionary workout plan.

You simply just have to start doing it for yourself and no one else.

We live in an area with a year-round climate that would make many people around the world envious. We also live in a rich agricultural area unlike any other.

Yet we might as well live in Chicago for as much as we ake advantage of the fact we live where we do.

Take a walk, jog, or bicycle ride. Go past the fields and orchards that yield some of the best food in the world.

And when you sit down to eat savor the bounty that is grown around us.

That sweet fragrance that fills the air in late February of almond blossoms in bloom is the sweet smell of health.