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Joseph McClendon III on Living Healthier
Joseph McClendon III is a peak-performance coach and a former director of Herbalife, one of the largest supplement companies in the world. He has authored books with motivational speaker Tony Robbins, including Ebony Power Thoughts: Inspirational Thoughts from Outstanding African-Americans. He’s head trainer for Robbins Research International and provides corporate training, leadership workshops and personal coaching for a clientele that includes Fortune 500 company executives. He’s also the president and CEO of three companies centered around personal development and health and nutrition. Here, McClendon discusses how to live a healthier life.
What are the major health myths people buy into?
First, that disease is something that we “catch,” and that the outside world is contaminated and out to get us. I’ve been around the same germs and viruses as everybody else, but I have not had a cold or flu in almost 20 years.
Another is that we think we don’t have control over our own health. If we’re healthy and fit, then our bodies have the ability to fight off all foreign invaders. One of the biggest myths is that medications exist to help us. They do not: I believe that the pharmaceutical industry wants to keep us sick because they profit from that. Most pharmaceuticals are designed not to cure the disease, but rather to mask it and keep a person at a sustainable level so they’ll continue to take those drugs. Medicine has a place, in case of injury or a condition that has gone too far, but for the most part we have what it takes to heal ourselves.
Also, people believe too much of what they see on television. TV is a big challenge to our health and ability to take care of ourselves. Lately, you see advertisements for prescription drugs, which means that people then go to their doctor and request a medication. And the doctor, who’s running a business, runs the risk of losing a patient if the request isn’t granted. Television should not be telling us what to do and what not to do.
Which foods are on your “do not eat” list?
I believe that milk does not “do you good.” In fact, it robs from you. If I could name only one item to cut out of people’s diets, it would be milk. I’d also mention what I call “office food,” meaning potato chips, cookies, bread and processed white-flour foods, sodas and coffee.
The same goes for children: Feed them nothing that’s manmade and give them plenty of water, while keeping them away from milk, fast-food restaurants and candy. Give them positive thoughts, praise them and get them to move their bodies.
Have you always been healthy? If not, what inspired you to change your lifestyle?
No, I haven’t always been healthy. I wasn’t a sickly child, but I had my tonsils removed and I was skinny and tired all the time. I used to sleep eight to10 hours a day and wake up tired. Every flu season, I would get the flu and colds. I contracted viral spinal meningitis and it almost killed me. It hurt so much I hoped I would die. I started studying health and took a deeper interest in the topic because my mom got sick. I was able to help her live more than a decade after being told that she was only going to live two months. I became a vegetarian at first, though today I do eat fish. But I cleaned up my act, and that was in 1986.
Speaking of change, what are some principles people can adopt when changing their health for the better?
I’d suggest three considerations to examine: One, what you put into your body, meaning not just food but what you put on your skin, what you take in through your eyes, ears and nose. Take food as an example: If you only eat foods that are not manmade, you’re better off. I don’t have a problem with people eating meat as long as it’s not genetically modified or otherwise tampered with by man. I only eat things that are naturally grown, a lot of fruits and vegetables. I stay away from milk and drink plenty of water. If a person drinks enough water during the day, he won’t have an energy craving for Cokes and coffees. Generally, I believe that everything you need to sustain life either grows up out of the ground or bubbles up out of a stream.
Two, the thoughts you think. To keep positive thoughts coming into your mind, surround yourself with great people and positive input. Listen only to great music; do not listen to negative stuff. Listen to people who are speaking the truth and turn the television off, unless you’re watching something educational like the Discovery Channel, which will give you positive feedback.
And three, how you move your body. As for moving the body, I do plenty of walking and some weight lifting. I do yoga because I believe stretching is the one activity you get the most benefit from, since you get a cardiovascular workout, as well. And breathing is also important.
What’s your view of people who have a number of excuses that keep them from adopting healthier habits?
Excuses are just that: I say, “Get over it, quit being a baby, quit whining. If you want more energy, if you want better health—not only for yourself but also for the people you love—well then, ‘Physician heal thyself.’ ” Start at home and do it yourself. It takes just as much time to make yourself a healthy meal instead of eating bad food.
What is the value of supplements?
Obviously, I’m heavily into supplementation and highly recommend Herbalife products. But for a long time, I believed that if you take care of yourself naturally, you don’t have to depend on supplementation. And it’s the truth if you do your due diligence, but that’s extremely hard to do for most people. I’m telling people to quit eating meat, quit drinking coffee, quit eating sugar, quit having soft drinks, quit doing dairy and so on. Most people are so set in their ways that they’re not going to do it.
Have other cultures influenced your view of health?
Yes. I would say the biggest would be Asian culture. Now there’s a McDonald’s every mile and a half in Japan, but Asian countries used to be the healthiest around. Cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease and obesity were almost null and void there. Asians’ philosophy of studying life versus pathology is important: Their study of preventative medicine is thousands of years old. They try to keep you well, versus fixing you when you’re sick. Their traditional diet is fruit, vegetables, rice and a bit of fish, all without a lot a lot of preservatives. They believe that the nutrients you put into your body can turn your body around.
What’s your definition of living a healthy life?
Living healthfully means having energy to spare, waking up full of energy, having a smile on your face, having a great attitude, being able to move your body and being flexible. The opposite of health is low energy, a bad attitude, a negative outlook on life and a lack of flexibility.