“The Mighty Mississippi”: Fitness and proper nutrition has brought me to our country’s most famous river

by / Wednesday, March 23, 2011 / Published in Fitnesss 4 All 50 State Tour

Kevin starting up hill while riding alongside the Mississippi River

Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress.

Nicholas Murray Butler

 Did you know it only takes an additional 100 calories a day over your maintenance level (the calories consumed each day to maintain your weight) to gain TEN pounds a year? That’s just a little over half a soda pop! With odds like that, how will you EVER get and stay in shape you wonder? Well never fear, Kevin is here and with the help of my friends that are at the top of their field in fitness and nutrition. Like Keith Klein and his team with www.eatingmanagement.com, world champion body building champion Lee Labrada http://www.labrada.com/ , The Cooper Institute  http://www.cooperinstitute.org/ in Dallas, Texas led by founder Dr. Kenneth Cooper M.D. MPH and son Dr. Tyler Cooper MD MPH with help from Charles Sterling Ed.D. who have developed the Fitnessgram® and Nurtigram®.

 I plan to motivate, educate and inspire you to live a healthier lifestyle through proper nutrition and fitness. The important thing is to STAY ACTIVE! The more you move the more calories your body burns so you can have the occasional extra treat. Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Muscle burns more calories than fat so build some good old fashioned muscle though aerobic activity, strength conditioning, healthy meals and snacks. Look out fitness world, here you come!  Muscle helps your metabolism stay high and will help protect you from injury. Remember to warm up by stretching or doing some light resistance band movements.  It’ll make you leaner, healthier and gives you more energy than you can imagine.

Kevin pushing to Cape Girardeau, IL

Here are a few tips to ensure optimal fat burning with limited muscle loss from Max Form Your Life By Sean Greene and Joe Wells, a book that I wrote the foreword to:

  • Keep your protein intake high. Even if you have to cut some calories, keep the protein around 30-40% of your total calories.  For Example: Proteins:Lean ground sirloin, poultry (Chicken, turkey), ostrich, buffalo, fish, egg whites, cottage cheese, protein powders.
  • Don’t cut out meals. Reduce calories a bit in each meal but never skip an entire meal. Remember, digesting food constantly will keep your metabolism going all day long.
  • Eat only fibrous carbohydrates after 5:00pm and avoid starchy carbohydrates at night.  For Example: Carbohydrates (starchy/complex): (Only during the daytime up to 4:00pm.): Oatmeal, potatoes (most varieties), pasta, rice (brown and white), most other grains, all wheat product; Carbohydrates (Non-starchy/Complex): Spinach (natural diuretic), asparagus, broccoli, green peas, parsnips, all leafy green veggies and some squashes (zucchini), summer squash (yellow zucchini-like squash) 
  • Limit intake of simple sugars. If you can’t avoid them, make sure to have them earlier in the day before your workout. For Example: Carbohydrates (sugars/simple): (very little and only during the daytime up to 1:00pm): Honey, all fruits, and fructose but particularly fruits such as apples, peaches, strawberries, bananas or pure crystalline fructose/high fructose corn syrup, candies 


That last one might not be your favorite benefit. Cardio is great too and will work your lungs and heart effectively. Cardio work outs would include running, bike riding, swimming, calisthenics, sports activities, practically anything that gets the heart pumping and works up a little sweat. By the way, your heart is a muscle and cardio is going to give it a good work out. Stay educated on nutrition as well! Start to learn how to read the labels on the food you buy and seek out advice from those that know what they are talking about. New information about nutrition comes out all the time and a lot of it can be confusing so be sure to educate yourself and don’t get off track. Here’s a tip, low fat doesn’t always mean LOW CALORIE. A bag of sugar is low fat but you shouldn’t have it for dinner!  Be sure to see a doctor and get a check up once a year to make sure you are healthy and able to engage in strenuous activity. Don’t starve yourself, eat sensibly, take your vitamins and enjoy all the benefits of living a healthy life.

Kevin racing down the bridge over the Mississippi River

Kevin’s Personal Journal

10:00 a.m. CST – This morning I met with Charlie Bargman, the Director of Parks and Recreation for the city of Chester, we met close to the Mississippi River and in front of the large bronze statue of Popeye. Elzie C. Segar, a resident of Chester, created Popeye’s character in 1929 so now Chester, IL is known as the home of Popeye the “Sailor Man”, a favorite cartoon series, comic book and even movie starring Robin Williams.   We were told that Elzie was a small man who worked on the riverboats on the Mississippi River.  Local legend has it that even though Elzie was small in stature, he never lost a fight. I like Popeye. He always looked out for the little guy and made sure he ate his spinach! ** Side Note on spinach: it was a non-starchy complex carbohydrate and is also a natural diuretic**Ha! I guess it is a little funny but it’s true. Eat right, stay fit and healthy and you can defeat the big old Brutus we call obesity. By staying healthy and fit you become a champion for healthy living and an example to the community.

Kevin talks with CBS affiliate KFVS of Cape Girardeau

Are you just one person? Are you important? Of course you are so get fit, active and sweat! You are an example that will inspire others to live healthier and be fit. If you tell each individual making the decision to get active and to take responsibility for their own fitness will make this revolution happen! I presented Mr. Bargman with a plaque on behalf of the Kevin Saunders “Big Push Health and Fitness tour across America” to help make their community more fit. You can do it!! I did it! So you should too, it would make you feel better.  The ‘Big Push’ is the preamble to the “Fitness 4 all 50 state tour” it’s purpose is to educate our nation’s youth, parents and teachers, and  the American people about the positive effects of physical fitness and proper nutrition, in such way that they are inspired to actively make healthier choices.
10:30 a.m. CST – Pushing around 12 mph, I wheeled the 28 miles to Grand Tower, IL. 

1:45 p.m. CST – I took a break by the Mississippi River in Grand Tower, IL. We had a little lunch and got some pictures pushing by the river. We visited with two men from a research center in nearby Carbondale, IL.

2:15 p.m. CST – Averaging about 12 mph, I was able to wheel 24 miles to McClure, IL. For part of the trip, Andy road along side of me on the bike and took pictures. It was a very hot and humid day, but the roads were great for pushing. The scenery made some wonderful pictures. 
4:30 p.m. CST – We left McClure, IL and head for Cape Girardeau, MO to check in at our hotel. When we arrived at the hotel, we ate and took a short break.

Herald Tribune - One Man, One Mission , One Push Across America

6:00 p.m. CST – Andy drove to the Mississippi Bridge that crosses the Mississippi River to connect Illinois and Missouri. He wanted to check out tomorrow’s route and find some good spots to take pictures.

Wow, tomorrow is going to be a big day!!! We have a meeting and presentation with the mayor and city officials. When I have a big day coming up I always like to do a “test run” on my entry especially since I will be coming off of the brand new Mississippi River Bridge into the park next to the water. After seeing it, I feel comfortable and am very excited to see what tomorrow has in store for me!!

Keep Going for the GOLD! Never Give Up!
Kevin Saunders, motivational speaker
Kevin Saunders

Kevin Saunders is a World Champion Paralympian, motivational speaker, athlete (with multiple gold medals) and author. Kevin Saunders was the first person with a disability appointed to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness Sports (only 20 people are selected for this nationwide) by the President of the United States. Kevin Saunders was first chosen to be appointed to the prestigious Council by President George H.W. Bush and was the only person reappointed by to this Council by President Bill Clinton and he was reappointed again by President George W. Bush as a constituent expert to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness & Sports. Learn more about Kevin’s story and accomplishments.