Can I really do this without exercise?

Short answer: yes.

Now for the long answer: I lost 110 lbs in my first year of Paleo (starting it all with a Whole30) without doing any form of exercise at all. And when I say no exercise, I mean I didn’t even go for walks. I only walked where I needed to; not a step further.

But that didn’t last.

On my one year anniversary of starting our Whole30, I found myself 110 lbs lighter, and an idea popped into my head: what if I got healthy enough to be able to get back into the military? Either the Reserve or the National Guard, and then I could finish my 20 years and get some sort of retirement benefits. Besides, I loved serving in the Marines, and I missed the camaraderie and the culture. But, to be able to get back in, I’d have to meet not only height and weight requirements and pass a stringent physical (even more stringent being over 40), but I’d need to be able to pass a physical fitness test which consisted of push ups, sit ups, and a run. So, I began with walking and push ups.

I the beginning, I was only able to do 7 push ups. I was dejected. That was pitiful. But I decided that I would persevere and keep going, making gains naturally and slowly. I never pushed my arms to the point of pain or failure. I would do the push ups only as long as they were easy, and when I felt like I had to start struggling, I would stop. I would then rest my arms for a day, and do them again. I kept at it until 4 months later, I was doing 120 push ups in two minutes.

My walking went the same way. I walked 30 minutes each day until I felt like walking wasn’t doing anything, so I started doing a slow shuffle jog. I would shuffle/jog one day, and then take the next day off. I worked on increasing the distances I could jog each day until one day, I felt that my jogging was too easy, so I extended my pace into a run. I felt like Forrest Gump kicking the leg braces off to run. It felt great! My legs were free, and it actually felt good to extend my legs and to run. On that first run, I was able to go the entire 30 minutes without stopping. That was my first official run. My pace was 11+ minutes per mile, but it was a run.

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Me after one of my runs around the lake near my home.

Fast-forward a year. I just completed my second 5k, I’ve been accepted into and have been serving in the National Guard, and I passed my first APFT in the top 10% of my unit. My average run pace is ~8:30/mile, and I’m working on getting that to sub-8’s hopefully next year.

Did I need to exercise to keep the weight off? No. I kept eating healthy, and that is what kept the weight off. The running and push ups only help keep me fit which is important for my National Guard service, but also allows me to take part in activities I couldn’t dream of just two years ago.

Do you need exercise to lose weight? No. Will adding exercise to your routine benefit you in other ways? Absolutely! I highly recommend doing something. Anything.

Fried Catfish

 

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Someone may have already come across this recipe I made, but it’s too good to not share.

My wife and I love fried catfish, but finding a breading that is Paleo and that actually sticks to the fish has been difficult. My wife had all but given up before I took it upon myself to conquer fried catfish. I must have gotten lucky, because I got it right on the first try (and I’ve since been able to replicate it with 100% success!).

  • I use fresh, wild-caught catfish. I got 2 lbs of it for this recipe.
  • Equal parts of almond flour and cassava flour (about 3 tbs each)
  • Salt and pepper in the flour… not a lot, but just to add a little “something.” You can also sprinkle in some cayenne or paprika for color/flavor
  • For the oil, I use refined coconut oil. Ensure there’s enough in your pan to cover the fish 1/2 way up.

I heat the coconut oil on high and let the oil get nice and hot. Then, after cutting the catfish filets into four pieces, I use the natural moisture from the fish and pat it into the flour mixture, ensuring that all sides are well-covered. I then carefully place the pieces into the oil and cook them on each side for about3 3-7 minutes, depending on thickness. Turn them carefully with tongs to ensure you don’t pull the “breading” off. The most important part here is to not cook them based on time, but on internal temperature: minimum 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the fish is at temperature, place onto a plate that has a paper towel on it to help get some of the oil out of it. Serve!

My wife, her mother, and my son all say it’s the best catfish they’ve had! It’s really that good! I hope you enjoy it, too. Let me know how it goes if you try this recipe.

It’s amazing what sticking to the rules will do for weight loss

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That’s my, “I’m not too pleased with that” face.

After three days of drinking alcohol nightly and two dinners with non-Paleo foods coupled with no more than 4 hours of sleep three nights in a row, I gained a solid 7 lbs. You read that right; three days of non-Paleo stuff caused me to gain 7 lbs. Did I actually gain 7 lbs of body mass? No, of course not. The vast majority of that weight was caused by two things: inflammation and water retention.

The good part about this type of weight gain is that it goes away pretty quickly with some solid rules following. That’s what happened to me this week, and as of this morning, I’m down 6 lbs. One more to go, and I’m down to pre-weekend levels! Then, I can work on losing just a few more before my trip to NYC next week.

Weight fluctuates daily, and sometimes as much as a few lbs in a single day. That’s why it’s not a good idea to use weight as a sole indicator of your progress in getting healthy. Sure, we all want to lose weight, and weight is the easiest measure of our overall health, but it’s only one data point among many.

While I had gained 7 lbs, I didn’t really feel all that bloated nor did my clothes get tight. It’s weird; everything I know about weight and mass says my clothes should have felt tighter, yet they did not. I did notice a loss of definition on my muscles due to the excess water, but it wasn’t more than just visible. This morning, my abs were showing much better, and the veins in my arms popped out more.

Lessons re-learned:

  1. No alcohol!
  2. Eat Paleo foods!
  3. Get enough sleep (7+ hours)!
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This is my content face. I’m much happier here. And my beard grows too quickly.

As for totals? I’m back down to my pre-Hurricane Harvey weight at 167.5 lbs! That makes me VERY happy, and validates eating a strict Paleo diet and getting enough sleep as a viable method of losing weight on-demand for me.

“But, Giving Up Grains is Hard!”

Do you know what really hard is? Battling cancer. Being disfigured in a traffic accident and having to go through physical therapy to learn to walk again. Losing a limb in combat and learning to use a prosthetic. Having a stroke and being unable to walk or run. Being born with a condition that keeps you from walking or running. Heck, there are people born with all kinds of limiting afflictions. But these people don’t complain. They take their lot, they fight, and they persevere. Some may lost the battle, but not for lack of effort or for not having heart.

When people tell me that giving up grains is hard, I smile. I smile, because I think it would be incredibly rude of me to tell them to their face what I’m thinking, which is: “ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME?! YOU THINK THAT’S HARD?!?!?!”

Whenever I am running and I need to motivate myself or if I find I’m no running hard enough, I pick up the pace and think about all the people I know who can’t run like I am. People who would give anything to be able to hit the pavement and run. When I first started my Whole30, I used the same thoughts to motivate me. I told myself, “This isn’t hard. All I have to do is NOT eat something. What’s hard would be wanting to eat and having no option. What’s hard is fighting cancer and having nausea so terrible that I can’t keep any food down. What’s hard is going through months or years of physical therapy. This is easy!” And you know what? It became easy. In time, it became a non-issue.

Just last night, my wife and I were checking out at a local grocery store, and I gazed upon the plethora of candies and chocolates on display. I felt nothing. I wasn’t tempted, and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. And it struck me; it was glorious.

Avoiding grains is not hard. It may be now, but when you put it into perspective and after you’ve done it for a while, it gets easier. Trust me; I’ve been there.

Coffee, Tea, and Me

I have been asked a few times about drinking coffee and/or tea because these things are not Whole30 compliant. This is true. When I did my first Whole30, I cut out the coffee, but as soon as we were done and decided on adopting the Paleo Diet, I reintroduced coffee and tea with good success.

There are many studies that show the efficacy of coffee and tea to reduce the risk of digestive tract cancer, as well as caffeine being something that can help get through minor cravings as well as perk you up when you’re tired. I personally enjoy both coffee and tea for the flavor and find the caffeine is a fringe benefit. I can go without drinking coffee and not suffer ill-effects, so I’m guessing I’m not very addicted to the caffeine.

Personally, I can’t just drink water all the time. I need SOMETHING to flavor my water. I refuse to use any sugar or artificial sweeteners, and I will not drink fruit juices. So, that leaves me tea and coffee.

Yes. I drink them straight and without anything else in them. Not even butter or coconut oil.

It took some time to get used to.

I could drink bone broth, but I haven’t gone down that path yet. I will try it this week and see how it goes, and I’ll report back after I have had it a few times. I have, on occasion, tried bone broth and really liked it, but I like the ultra-low calorie impact of coffee and tea and I’m not convinced that bone broth would be the same.

So, if the lack of coffee or tea is getting in the way of you doing a Whole30 or going Paleo, don’t let it stop you. It hasn’t stopped me, and I lost 150 lbs on Paleo with coffee and tea.

Relax. Weight gain is nothing to get stressed out about.

It happens. You go to a party or three, drink some wine, maybe even some mulled spiced wine, and eat a cheesecake or two. Then, you step on the scale and OMG WHAT THE HECK!?!?!?!!! I know. I’ve been there. I am there.

JUST RELAX.

Take a breath.

Exhale.

It’s going to be okay. You aren’t going to balloon up 10-20 lbs in a week. It takes time to put on weight, and it takes work to make that a permanent gain. If you don’t want to make it permanent, get back to your original diet and your weight will get back down to where you want it to be. It won’t happen over night, but put in the work, take the time, and you will be rewarded.

It’s nothing to lose sleep over or to get upset about. You lived a little. You enjoyed those holiday parties, and the good times with family and friends. So now, you have to “Pay the Piper,” as they say. It is what it is, and you can’t change that.

So relax. Everything’s okay. If you don’t like your weight, you know what to do and how to do it. Just get it done.

Mitigating the Damage

We are well within the Holiday Season now, and that means lots of parties, gatherings, and get-togethers filled with food and drink. Many, if not the vast majority of those foods and drinks are non-Paleo compliant, so what’s a Paleo guy like me to do? There’s only one thing I can do: mitigate the damage.

How do I do that successfully? It begins with the knowledge that I will gain some weight and I will be eating and drinking foods that aren’t as good for me as I normally allow. It’s the first key to being able to repair all this damage later. I need to know that it’s going to happen so that I can formulate a plan to counter the effects later.

Next, it’s directly mitigating the amount of these non-Paleo foods I will imbibe. From the foods to the drinks, I need to remember to keep the portions reasonable, and to focus on filling myself with as many Paleo compliant or Paleo-ish foods as I can and minimize the serving sizes of the non-Paleo foods. Sometimes this can’t be avoided, but where possible, minimize.

Finally, while not at a party, gathering, or get-together, I stick to a very strict Paleo diet. I eat only Paleo foods, and I drink only water, coffee, or tea. Maybe a bone broth, too, but that’s it. I’m also making sure I hit my 3-5 days of physical activity to help burn calories and strengthen my cardio ability. I know that the exercise is a drop in the bucket as it pertains to weight loss, but when it comes to mitigating weight gain from excess calories, it’s surprisingly good. That’s why a good fitness plan is good for maintaining weight while it’s not nearly as good as a primary source for losing it.

So, I’m heading into this season knowing the scale will be ugly to me. My muscles will lose some definition from the additional bloat I’m going to be experiencing, but this is all well and good, because I have a plan to drop it all after the holidays, and this is not my first rodeo. I’ve done this twice already, and I am certain that this will be an annual occurrence. With some planning and preparation, I can mitigate the damage and win the war against permanently gaining weight.