Am I a PaleoSoldier now, too?

img_4359aI’ve been asked a few times already since yesterday if I’m going to change my site’s name to PaleoSoldier since I’m now a soldier in the Army National Guard. The short answer is no. I was an active duty Marine for 11 years, and that will always be a large part of who I am. I will take my experience and knowledge from those 11 years with me to the National Guard and I will utilize it to the best of my ability to be the best solider I can possibly be. I will now also be a citizen soldier, a member of the oldest military service of our nation. I will be part of a long tradition of citizens who train and keep themselves ready for the call from our country. I am very proud of my service in the Marines, and I am equally proud of my service in the National Guard.

So, while I am PaleoMarine, I guess I’m now also PaleoSoldier. Or PaleoGuard. Or PaleoCitizenSoldier. Well, you get the picture. Ultimately, I’m E.J., a guy who was a Marine, got fat, got fit, and then became a National Guard soldier.Call me whatever you want, but don’t call me late for a good, hearty Paleo dinner.

Eating within the plan is very effective for weight loss. I know; it’s working for me

All week, I’ve been eating nothing but home-made food. Everything I’ve put into my body this week was made by my wife or me. The result? I’ve hit my lowest measured weight since active duty three weigh-ins in a row. 172.2 lbs. This is great, as my weight has typically been fluctuating +/- 2 lbs over the past few weeks as it trended lower. This time, it seems I’m set for another block of lost weight.

When I was losing weight more steadily and quickly, I would notice my weight stop at a certain point for a few days before shedding a few pounds. This was a trend I discovered after four months and it continued for about 8 months thereafter. I haven’t seen this with my weight for around five months, so to be seeing it again now is very motivating.

Analyzing my intake, I have been eating only home cooked foods, and even then, slightly larger portions. Each day has been:

Breakfast

Two eggs, sunny-side up
Three slices of bacon (no salt/sugar added)

Lunch

Meat Loaf/9 meatballs with Chipotle sauce/Shepherd’s pie
Side of either broccoli, sweet potato, or cauliflower rice

Dinner

Two deviled eggs
Meat Loaf/9 meatballs with Chipotle sauce/Shepherd’s pie
Side of either broccoli, sweet potato, or cauliflower rice
Paleo Almond Joy

As you can see, my dinner was slightly larger, but just a bit. This amount seems to be the right amount for my body and has allowed for me to start losing weight again. I’m hoping to be in the 160’s soon. Then, my final goal will be in view!

Melt stubborn fat? Really? (Short answer: nope)

When scrolling through Facebook, it’s hard to avoid ads that are targeted to your interests. Since I write and post a lot about health and fitness, I find many of the ads targeted to me are fitness related. One that made me chuckle was an ad for a video that allegedly helps “Melt stubborn fat.” So much wrong with that sentence.

First, it’s marketing BS. They want you to believe that through exercises they show you how to do in this video you pay money for, you will finally be able to get rid of fat that you’ve been unable to get rid of through any other means. They’re promising a quick and easy fix through exercise.

Second, they are perpetuating the myth that fat melts off the body. No, it doesn’t. That’s not how weight loss works.

Third, you can’t target fat areas of the body. You can’t do sit ups until the fat goes away on your stomach while it remains everywhere else. That’s not how losing fat works. Fat goes away at an even rate spread across your body. Period.

Fourth, and this is the most important fallacy, is that there is no mention of diet. Diet is what makes you lose weight, or in their parlance, fat. Exercise will make you stronger, but diet makes you lose weight. Watch what you put into your body and your weight will respond accordingly. Feed it pizza, burgers, and beer and your weight will hold steady or continue to increase. Feed it a reasonable amount of meat, veggies, and fruits and you will lose weight or get to a point at which your body will equalize to the input of calories.

Don’t fall for the hype. There’s only one way to lose weight: eat good food in the right amounts. Exercise helps your heart and muscles get stronger, but it’s the quality and amount of food you eat that regulates your weight. I don’t care if you don’t do a Whole30 or go Paleo like I did. If you take away only one thing from me and my blog, it should be this (and I’m repeating it here because it’s so important):

Exercise helps your heart and muscles get stronger, but it’s the quality and amount of food you eat that regulates your weight.

Progress Pictures Catch Attention and Motivate

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2014 vs 2017. Same spot, same chair, same me (minus 138 lbs).

My credentials don’t matter to anyone who wants to lose weight and get healthy if I can’t walk the walk. That’s why it’s so important for me to post progress pictures. If I weighed 300 lbs yet I was telling people how to get healthy and lose weight, why would they trust me if I couldn’t follow the advice myself? The same is true had I never been over 200 lbs: I wouldn’t be able to understand the difficulties in not only the physical aspect of losing weight, but also the psychological and mental hardships related to weight loss. By showing my fat picture next to a current picture, people immediately can see that I’m not talking from outside the circle of knowledge as it pertains to being a big person who wants to lose weight. I’m not just talking the talk; I’ve walked the walk.

The other reason I post progress pictures is for motivation. Partly to motivate others, and partly to motivate myself. Even 17 months later, I still need to see the old pictures to remind me of not only how far I’ve come, but what happens when I allow myself to live without restraint or limits. It’s a place I never want to return to. I never want to feel the way I felt back then. Being tired, feeling embarrassed, being unable to buy clothing off the rack, being unable to go up a flight of stairs without getting winded, having tingling pain in my extremities due to poor circulation, etc. These are all things I work to avoid, and seeing my fat self is a stark reminder of how easy it is to slip into obesity.

There are a few people who feel that my progress pictures are gloating. They feel like I’m “Shoving my weight loss in their faces” and that I’m too proud of myself. First, I’m not shoving anything in anyone’s faces. If you see the pictures, it’s because you actively searched for them or are a subscriber to this blog. Second, I am proud of myself. I did something I set out to do. It was something difficult, and I overcame. It’s something many people (including myself) struggle with, and yet, I did it. I’m not bragging, and I’m not being excessively prideful. It’s a healthy sense of accomplishment. I believe that I’ve earned it.

So there you have it: why I post progress pictures as often as I do. I know I’m not the most handsome guy in the world, but I think I’m at least not some hideous CHUD. I hope.

Repetition in themes: why do I revisit topics and how do I come up with things to post?

There are times when I start blogging and I don’t know what I’m going to talk about. I’ve covered so many topics not just once but two or three times that I’m afraid of boring those who have been following my blog for a while. But then I realize that even though I may write about the same topic time and time again, I typically have a new angle or fresh perspective I share. Then, there’s also the fact that a lot of these topics bear repeating because they are important, and my revisiting them is not just for you, the reader, but for me as well.

There are times I want to revisit a topic or a theme because I need to reevaluate my own progress on this journey. I need to actively think about a certain aspect of Paleo or fitness to re-motivate myself or to remind myself of the reasons behind doing certain things. I figure that if I need these reminders, then certainly others do as well.

Eating healthy is a journey. While the rules are simple, the execution is not. Eating healthy isn’t always easy. For most of us, it’s constant work. Practicing restraint, preparation, and discipline. Lots of planning. Expense.

If you get anything out of these blog posts of mine, I hope it’s that you realize that this isn’t easy, but you can do it. Life doesn’t allow us to follow plans perfectly, and there are times when things get in the way and we face some temporary setbacks, but they are just that: temporary. My weight is finally in the range I am happy with (within 7-8 lbs of my final goal) and I am able to control my weight loss successfully through my strict adherence to the Paleo rules and portion control. I am active, and I exercise regularly. It’s not easy, but the formula is simple. Eat well + exercise = be healthy and fit. The hard part is making it happen, but you can do this. Just keep doing the best you can. That’s all we can hope for.

Restraint in all things is necessary for success: why not in eating?

I was thinking today about how I used to enjoy eating until I couldn’t eat anymore. It was nice to have this ability: to do something without limits or restraint, and just gorging myself until I was physically unable to do so further. This realization made me think deeper about all facets of life, and how we have to use restraint in everything else; why do we think it’s okay to eat without limits?

I’m no psychologist or any kind of “-ist” for that matter, but in my limited experience, I think it has to do with the fact that we have to practice restraint in every other part of our lives. Being able to eat without restraint is like a release valve, of sorts. Maybe. That’s the best I could come up with because nothing else can explain it (that I’m aware of; please feel free to correct me!).

Take your finances. If you live paycheck to paycheck, living without restraint would quickly run you into trouble with some of the basic necessities like paying your rent, electricity, buying food, or (heaven forbid) paying for your Internet service or cell phone service! For these reasons (and I’m sure countless more), most people know that if they receive $1000, they can’t just go and spend it all on stupid stuff without repercussions. Sure, they may have a shiny new laptop, but it won’t help to have that laptop if you’re without a place to live, electricity to power it, or Internet to use it with. Restraint.

Farmers and gardeners know you can’t over-water, over-fertilize, or over-plant ground. Pilots know you can’t over stress the air frame with too many G’s or the wings will literally rip off the fuselage. Students know  you can only cram so much before a major exam. Restraint.

Think about how you eat, why you eat, and how much you eat. Eating until we are comfortably full is what we’re wired for. Unfortunately, that wiring also makes us feel great when we go a little past comfortable. It’s a left-over survival mechanism from our pre-agricultural days. We have to learn to live with those feelings of gratification and learn to reset the volumes at which those feelings are triggered. Portion control is one very important part of eating that I don’t see mentioned enough. I’m not talking about eating all things in moderation. That is demonstrably false. What I’m talking about is eating the right foods (meat, veggies, fruits) in the right amounts for you. Find that amount and stick with it.

There are times when I eat something ridiculously delicious and I want more. I stop and think about why I want more food. Am I not satisfied with the amount of food I ate? Or do I just want more because it’s delicious? More often than not, it’s the latter, and I force myself to stop. I wrote an earlier blog post about how this is hard for me to do with sweet potatoes. I’m getting better at it, and I’m always reevaluating my eating habits and the volume of food I eat. Eating healthy is a journey and not a destination. I’m on this trip for life.

Leaving for a Vacation to Spain!

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Today, my wife and I embark on a journey to Spain! We will be there for almost two weeks, and we are looking forward to the sights, the sounds, the people, the food, and the experiences that one can only have in Spain. We’ve never been there, so it’s going to be a new experience for us. We are going with another couple, dear friends who are also Paleo. That will make meal choices a little easier, although I will admit that I am going into this vacation knowing full well that it will be near impossible to eat only Paleo-friendly foods. For this reason, I will not beat myself up over eating non-Paleo food.

I do plan on running every other day while I’m there, and I’m taking some running gear with me. I will also do my push ups and sit ups to keep my conditioning I’ve been working so hard for.

I hope to post some articles and pictures over the coming weeks of the things we discover.