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The importance of taking care of yourself. Personal experience!

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James Lugo
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So a year or so ago I really stopped singing professionally and went through a pretty bad personal funk, gained 40 lbs and really lost it bad. About 4 months ago I started to get the bug to sing again and I got a call to do a sound alike for a TV show, it was Foolin' by Def Leppard, I hadn't really sung in a while and I warmed up for the session and really struggled. The song is brutal to sing in the first place and having not sung in a while it was almost impossible. I made it through the session and the song sounded ok but I wasn't happy with my voice at all. It was really weird it was like my voice couldn't go all the way to the top notes, it wasn't like it was breaking up or hoarse, it was like the notes didn't exist anymore, very weird. So I went to my ENT buddy and he scoped me and basically the entire mechanism was charred from acid, meaning I was so acidic and eating so poorly that I torched the thing, folds, muscles, tissue etc... So he told me I better get serious about losing weight and eating right or it was game over. I'm 46 y/o I have been singing forever, I mean I sing f**kin hard and never had vocal issues and now pizza was taking me down. To say I was scared was an understatement.

So I changed my life and did a 180, started writing down all my food, stayed away from all the reflux food (all the thing I know from teaching for 20 years), stopped eating at night, stopped drinking soda, joined the gym, got a trainer and also started biking and spinning. It's been 3 months and I've lost 30 pounds. I got a call this week to sing for Manny Charlton, guitarist and founding member of Nazareth, he sent me the set list and it had all the hits; Hair Of The Dog, Love Hurts etc.. I warmed up and started working on the tunes, now keep in mind I haven't sang since I went to the ENT 3 months ago. I started out slow and sang through the tunes for a day in head voice just to get the air flowin and juices flowin. Yesterday I hit it for real and sang Love Hurts note for note with the original track, F above high C full voice. Unbelievable! I almost cried it was so overwhelming. I woke up this morning and my voice feels perfect. I'm singing with the band Friday at the Whiskey for a NAMM/Tour Buyer showcase.

I have been through hell and back, what a feeling. Jamie Vendera really helped me through this with encouragement on the phone. Anyway I just wanted to post this because it's real and it happened to me and most coaches would never let you in on their own struggles and I thought it may help someone. Dr. Oz has a show on the effects of acid reflux, it's more then just a scratchy throat, it really make it where you struggle or can't contract for the highs. Again I can't stress how important it is to take care of yourself.

James

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Excellent post, James. I consider eating healthy absolutely essential. I had a problem for a long time where I ate a lot of acidic foods and it makes my voice sound like complete shit, especially on the high notes... like you said, those notes don't even exist. It was through Jaime Vendera that I discovered about Apple Cider Vinegar and Reflux EZE and doing cardio, stuff like that. It makes a huge difference. For those suffering from acid reflux, do yourself a big ass favor and get Reflux EZE...a couple of drops eliminates the acid and makes you sound good.

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So a year or so ago I really stopped singing professionally and went through a pretty bad personal funk, gained 40 lbs and really lost it bad. About 4 months ago I started to get the bug to sing again and I got a call to do a sound alike for a TV show, it was Foolin' by Def Leppard, I hadn't really sung in a while and I warmed up for the session and really struggled. The song is brutal to sing in the first place and having not sung in a while it was almost impossible. I made it through the session and the song sounded ok but I wasn't happy with my voice at all. It was really weird it was like my voice couldn't go all the way to the top notes, it wasn't like it was breaking up or hoarse, it was like the notes didn't exist anymore, very weird. So I went to my ENT buddy and he scoped me and basically the entire mechanism was charred from acid, meaning I was so acidic and eating so poorly that I torched the thing, folds, muscles, tissue etc... So he told me I better get serious about losing weight and eating right or it was game over. I'm 46 y/o I have been singing forever, I mean I sing f**kin hard and never had vocal issues and now pizza was taking me down. To say I was scared was an understatement.

So I changed my life and did a 180, started writing down all my food, stayed away from all the reflux food (all the thing I know from teaching for 20 years), stopped eating at night, stopped drinking soda, joined the gym, got a trainer and also started biking and spinning. It's been 3 months and I've lost 30 pounds. I got a call this week to sing for Manny Charlton, guitarist and founding member of Nazareth, he sent me the set list and it had all the hits; Hair Of The Dog, Love Hurts etc.. I warmed up and started working on the tunes, now keep in mind I haven't sang since I went to the ENT 3 months ago. I started out slow and sang through the tunes for a day in head voice just to get the air flowin and juices flowin. Yesterday I hit it for real and sang Love Hurts note for note with the original track, F above high C full voice. Unbelievable! I almost cried it was so overwhelming. I woke up this morning and my voice feels perfect. I'm singing with the band Friday at the Whiskey for a NAMM/Tour Buyer showcase.

I have been through hell and back, what a feeling. Jamie Vendera really helped me through this with encouragement on the phone. Anyway I just wanted to post this because it's real and it happened to me and most coaches would never let you in on their own struggles and I thought it may help someone. Dr. Oz has a show on the effects of acid reflux, it's more then just a scratchy throat, it really make it where you struggle or can't contract for the highs. Again I can't stress how important it is to take care of yourself.

James

james, i struggle with acid reflux and my doctor just downgraded me from prilosec to zantac 150 because prilosec we're told is related to bone deterioration. i'm hoping it's sufficient medication,but i will check into the reflux ease as a possible supplement.

question: how old were you when you did your dvd? i use your male cd exclusively lately.

bob from yonkers

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wow congrats on the weightloss and turning your life around, James. I've also find that a healthy diet really makes a big impact on my singing voice.

Do you mind sharing what types of food you feel have made the biggest improvement to your voice?

Just staying away from tomato based foods, nuts, high fat and deep fried food, soda and caffeine etc... Mostly eating chicken, sushi, grilled and raw veggies, brown rice, whole wheat paste etc..

question: how old were you when you did your dvd? i use your male cd exclusively lately.

bob from yonkers

43 or so, about 3 years ago.

Also I was given acid reflux meds but they didn't agree with me so I stopped taking them and just did it with food and losing weight, also NOT EATING LATE! Being overweight itself causes acid reflux.

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Positively inspiring, James, mahalo for sharing. I've been dealing with weight issues all my life as well. I've been working with Robert L. for about a year now, and realizing that the weight and lack of physical activity is probably holding me back as much as anything else. It's gotten to the point where I've had to go on a CPAP, which is a pretty good indication of where I was from a cardio-vascular standpoint. I recently started a workout routine and found a group of like-minded friends who are supporting each other. Hopefully it will bear fruit. Your willingness to share your story is also a great motivator, so again, thanks.

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Your post means a lot to many people here James. I've been through it too and loosing all the excess weight along with exercising saved not only my voice but probably my heart too.

I was about to email you (I own your DVD) about a "tongue" question but I've also posted it (#1, #4) in this thread : http://www.punbb-hosting.com/forums/themodernvocalist/viewtopic.php?id=1586

so it'd be great if we got your answer.

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I lost 40 pounds, myself. which probably looked different on me because I am a giant. But one of the things I changed about diet was changing to 0 % fat organic milk. Not because I am a big believer in "organic", but because it tastes good and I don't get heartburn any more. The fat in milk is what goes bad. It's also what can give you heartburn. Basically, just changing a few things, staying away from fried foods, mostly. Fresh salads are good. Pretty much the only fat I eat is whatever is in the meat we have with a meal.

I used to weigh as much as 254, then I lost all the weight one summer and went down to 215. Now, I usually average around 220, which is right for my height of 6' 6". I look thin because the 220 is pretty much muscle (as in lean body mass.)

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I just wished I had paid more attention to American Idol when you were on there as a guest. Oh well, put out another hit album and we'll see you in concert and at the awards shows and stuff like that.

I pick up stuff from various bits of wisdom and you are certainly one of the brightest, James. Live long and prosper and be healthy, whatever that is for you.

In my opinion, it's not really a matter of what the scale in the bathroom says. It's your energy and joie de vivre. Anne Wilson is full figured, as they say, and she still has the same set of pipes she's always had.

Pat Benetar and her husband and long-time guitarist have been eating healthy for a long time. I once saw them on an episode of "Emeril Live!" and she still has "that" voice.

Axl Rose has put on a few pounds but he is still wailing like a banshee.

So, as we tend to think about it here, do what's healthy because it makes you feel good and supports that golden gift that you have, your astounding voice.

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James - Thanks for posting this. I think it does help people. I went through a similar thing with LPR - basically reflux. I couldn't sing well for months. The ENT gave me prilosec which essentially made it go away, but that stuff isn't good to take as I understand. It's better that you had a reaction to it and used more natural diet modifications. I too have to watch what I eat especially before going to sleep (before going horizontal). Anyway I'm glad to know I am not alone. It's great that it led you back to a healthy lifestyle that allows you to use your fantastic instrument.

Thanks a lot for sharing this. I wish you all the best.

Geno

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Thanks for the kind replies. Well we had our first gig this weekend and it went great. I made it...lol Brutally hard set to sing but fun. Got up the next morning and my voice felt great. Took today off and have a week of vocal sessions, rehearsals and an all-star jam/gig with the Naz band thing ahead of me. Absolutely miraculous bounce back. Anyway, they are talking about me going on the road and doing a record. So we will see. No matter what, I feel rejuvenated and ready to sing and write songs. Again bad food, night eating and gaining weight can really destroy your voice, I've taught about it for decades but now having lived it, it gives me a new respect for taking care of my body and my voice. It was very humbling but made me a better singer and teacher.

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Thanks for the kind replies. Well we had our first gig this weekend and it went great. I made it...lol Brutally hard set to sing but fun. Got up the next morning and my voice felt great. Took today off and have a week of vocal sessions, rehearsals and an all-star jam/gig with the Naz band thing ahead of me. Absolutely miraculous bounce back. Anyway, they are talking about me going on the road and doing a record. So we will see. No matter what, I feel rejuvenated and ready to sing and write songs. Again bad food, night eating and gaining weight can really destroy your voice, I've taught about it for decades but now having lived it, it gives me a new respect for taking care of my body and my voice. It was very humbling but made me a better singer and teacher.

James: Congrats on this accomplishment. An inspiring testimony of the value of dedication and focussed work.

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Thanks guys. Well I just got done with the last show tonight, it has been 2 weeks of rehearsals, shows, interviews, filming, recording etc... The guitarist is going back to Dallas but the label has asked me to join the band and co-produce the next record... So time will only tell where it's all going but it was a fun 2 weeks and my voice got better everyday. I hit the bridge in Love Hurts like a madman tonight, it felt good.

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James singing love hurts:
. Awesome tone and singing!

as good as this does sound, no question, the guy's got pipes, i would think folks would be saying he's pulling chest or not getting into head voice sooner. this is exactly the kind of issue that confuses the hell out of me.

i'd love to hear you folks comment on this.

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James Lugo, its been too long. Im glad I stopped to take a look at the forum email digest or I may have missed this. This is great! One think I know about James, and we have had a few opportunities to sit down and have lunch and share our stories... he is a survivor and an individual with extreme will power and huge talent. James is also an excellent voice coach that really "gets it" when it comes to head voice development and a great producer.

Losing weight is hard. Anyone that can achieve this, it says volumes about their personal fortitude, very impressive.

Its great to see you on here James, would be great to catch up on a call.

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Ill say this too about Jaime Vendera... a few years ago when I was in a very rough time, Jaime Vendera is one of the very few people that actually cared enough to get on the phone and give me a pep talk. Jaime Vendera is not only a great voice coach, but he is a great friend, a real friend that knows how to do interventions and get people motivated.

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as good as this does sound, no question, the guy's got pipes, i would think folks would be saying he's pulling chest or not getting into head voice sooner. this is exactly the kind of issue that confuses the hell out of me.

i'd love to hear you folks comment on this.

Bob, anytime the note is above E4 for a man, its going to be a head voice note. Period, end of story. It sounds "chesty" because of the vowel, the laryngeal dumping and the distortion.

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Just as you were writing about the support you have given and received from others, I am reminded of the support I give and receive from here. It's one of the things I like most about this forum. Sure, all the technical tricks are neat and the tutorials you have shown when you could have kept them propietarily locked up with version 2.0. But I have seen more flame war in the dog forum than here. And the Guns and Roses forum? That is a free-for-all. It really is "Get in the Ring." It's not just a song title, it's a way of life over there. Most of that forum is about flame. Odd because most of the members of that forum were born around the time the first full album came out, where as I was getting married the for the first time, in 1987.

Anyway, it's an honor and a privilege to converse with everyone here from a video store owner to a vocal coach in the league of David Kyle (meaning you, Robert) to a classically trained expert (Steven) to an actual working rock star (James.) And all the stages in between. Some astonishing voices here, pro and "amateur" though the amount of time spent is certainly serious to qualify as pro. And styles ranging from thrash or speed metal to hawaiian traditional.

And I am touched and honored that James would lay down his armor and share with us his problems, whether we can "fix" them or not. That shows trust. That also shows humility. Clint Eastwood said it best in the movie, "Magnum Force." "A man's got to know his limitations."

We all have feet made of clay and pull our socks on, one at a time.

And good luck, James. I am totally looking forward to a new Naz album with you on it. That would be so freaking awesome. And then, you need to come to the D-FW area or even Choctaw Casino in Durant (where a number of big acts come through. It's a smaller venue, like the Winstar Casino, but it has the right demographics and a low cost overhead for bands to actually make money on tour.) so that you would be able to autograph a copy for me.

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