How a man living in the Alaskan wilderness helped me get fit

A lot has been written about Richard based on the documentary movies he made during those three decades, most of which revolve around his work as a naturalist as well as how he built his cabin and thrived. But one of his motivations was the passion he developed for living a life of health after being hospitalized with rheumatic fever for 6 months in California during the 1940s.

January of each year marks the start of our New Year’s resolutions. There’s always a big push to address the athletic part of healthy living because it’s easy to visualize the activity and there’s a sense that we’re doing something proactive. But it’s estimated that about 80% of our health is based on what we eat.

Clean eating

Any good nutritionist will share with you that clean eating comes down to 2 things:

Eating High Quality Food

GMO wasn’t a thing during Richard’s life. But, when you watch his movies, you can tell that had GMO been around, it wouldn’t have been a part of his diet. In a way, we also “live off the land” with the ingredients I use in my cooking at home, by buying fresh, local produce and nothing that contains GMO ingredients. That is also the foundation of Good Life Naturals and the foods that we make for you.


Nutrition numbers are generally broken down into 6 parts: Carbs, Cholesterol, Fat, Protein, Sodium (Salt), Sugars (natural or refined). How many grams per meal are based on what your goals are and how many calories of food you need to consume to achieve your goals. Since everyone’s numbers are different, it’s best to consult with your nutritionist and doctor to find out your specific numbers.

If the idea of counting grams or calories seems too hard, we make easy for you by printing an easy-to-read label on all of our products and also here on our website.

As an example: For a diet based on 2,000 calories per day, this is how we translate our Ketchup into fitness:

Carbs: 2 grams
Cholestoral: 0 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Protein: 0 grams
Sodium: 0.075 grams
Sugars (natural): 1 gram

See what I mean? Here’s a food that tastes wonderful but adds almost nothing to your daily calorie count!

Check out our delicious ketchup. It tastes great, it’s healthy, and it helps you achieve your fitness goals.

visualize cooking

It’s funny how in our mind’s eye it’s easy to visualize the athletic part of fitness and it seems like cooking good food is passive in comparison.

The thing is, there’s at least the same number of videos and books about cooking as there is about how long to run on a treadmill. We just don’t equate cooking as doing something proactive.

Here’s what helped me:

15 minutes. 30 minutes. 60 minutes. 90 minutes. These are the times we so often hear and see related to working out.

But what if we spent 30 minutes cooking each day? Or 60 or 90 minutes? Remember: It’s estimated that about 80% of our health is based on what we eat.

Richard’s View

Prioritizing is the key thing I learned from Richard.

In his early 80s, Richard was still living happily in his cabin in Alaska. If you watch his videos or read the book based on his life (One Man’s Wilderness, 50th Anniversary Edition: An Alaskan Odyssey), you can’t help but come away with an appreciation for how much time he spent preparing and cooking good food. It was one of his daily priorities and he did it with the same care that he did everything.


If your schedule is as packed as mine, it just makes more sense to spend time on cooking. While I’m not saying that you shouldn’t workout, I am suggesting that the return on investment of your time is higher for cooking.

Each day I spend at least 60 minutes cooking dinner for my family. It’s one of my main priorities to make sure they eat a homemade, nourishing dinner. It doesn’t always happen with sports and work demands, but I like to think it shows them how much I love and care about them.

One way to successfully prioritize is by making a list of everything that needs to get done each day. That list includes the basics of sleeping, eating, taking care of loved ones, and working.

Make two columns on your list:

1) Item: Working

2) Time: 8 hours

If you’ve been honest with yourself, when you add up all the hours the total will be greater than 24 hours.

Now comes Richard’s prioritization: what do you need to remove from the list to reduce the total time to 22 hours? This is the critical step and, I’m not going to lie, it involves challenging decisions.

Why 22 hours? It’s impossible to schedule everything, so build 2 hours into your daily list for things that just happen. Some days you’ll actually find yourself with extra time on your hands!

While at first this project can seem stressful, after you’ve created your list, you should feel a great sense of relief.

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to be healthier, you’re invited to join me in prioritizing cooking and eating good food. It takes a little bit of “figuring” as Richard would say, but once completed, “…tomorrow should see more working and less figuring.”

I take that to mean that each day we’ll take another step toward improved fitness.

With Love,

Good Life Naturals


Weight Loss and the 80% Nutrition, 20% Exercise Rule. Ellen Heally.

Is Weight Loss Really 80 Percent Diet and 20 Percent Exercise? Women’s Health.

Counting calories: Get back to weight-loss basics. Mayo Clinic.

Time Spent on Home Food Preparation and Indicators of Healthy Eating. American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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