Whole30 Wrap-up Day 15

Half way there!!!

It’s amazing to think that we’re already half-way to finishing this Whole30! It’s been the easiest one of the four, and yet I’m still feeling the benefits and dropping weight! It’s pretty amazing. My weight this morning was still at my low, which is good. The weather here in Houston is pretty cold and dry, but my body is adjusting well. I got a lot of rest last night, and I felt great this morning.

Breakfast: The usual: two eggs sunny-side up with three slices of sugar-free bacon. I also had a few nuts this time because I was famished for some reason. Maybe eating only twice yesterday had something to do with that.

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Sherry-prepared lunch: Butter Chicken and Riced Cauliflower

Lunch: One of the meals Sherry prepped for us this past Sunday was an Indian dish called Butter Chicken with Riced Cauliflower. It was absolutely delicious, and I asked her to put this on the “Make it again” list. She said it was much easier than the other Indian chicken dish she normally makes for us, so this may become the new normal.

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Dinner: Orange Beef Stiry Fry with Snap Peas and Riced Cauliflower.

Dinner: Sherry tried a new recipe from a Christmas present she received in the form of a cookbook. This was an Orange Beef Stir Fry with Sugar Snap Peas and riced cauliflower. She found the recipe in Well Fed Weekdays, a Paleo cookbook. The recipes are easy to prepare, and we really liked the meal and will likely do it again in the future!

The Best Days of my Life

It makes me sad when I read Facebook and see people I went to high school with or served in the Marine Corps with talk about their glory days of “Back then.” They make it sound as if those days long past were the pinnacle of their lives. For some, they readily admit that their lives have gone down hill since then. That really makes me sad for them.

I’ve prodded a few of these folks to tell me why they think things like work, school, marriages, even the birth of their children and other accomplishments don’t match their past experiences, and one thing struck me: many of these people see the past as their glory days because of the physical condition they were in. Whether it was the former high school athletes or the former active duty Marines, the thing they miss the most is their physical conditioning.

When I ask these very same people why they don’t just eat right and exercise, they tell me that it’s no use: they can never get back to their former perfect selves. Well, that is true. No matter how much I’d like, I will never have the body of my 21 year-old self. I may be able to run farther, faster, and be physically stronger, but my body looks older. My skin, my hair, the wrinkles; heck, all of it. I’m just an older guy now. And that’s perfectly okay with me. But back to the issue: why do they think they can’t get back in shape and get fit?

A lot of it has to do with the diet and fitness industries telling us time and time again to eat low-fat, grain-rich diets and get more exercise. People of my generation tried that, and the vast majority of us failed. Sure, there are some who can, regardless of their diet and exercise, stay thin. Those people are very fortunate, and quite rare. The rest of us pack on the weight when we eat lots of carbs and don’t get any exercise. The good news is that can change.

I hate reading about another classmate or Marine losing their life due to health problems that were either caused by or exacerbated by being overweight. This is something that is completely fixable and avoidable. I started at age 48, and I am now 50 and in the best shape of my life. I will turn 51 this year, and 51 year-old E.J. (that’s me) could definitely kick 24 year-old E.J.’s butt, both figuratively and literally!

My glory days are right now. I am happier now than I’ve ever been. I have an amazing wife who loves me, two great kids I adore, and a network of family and friends who make my life worth living. I am serving our community, our state, and our nation in the National Guard, and I am surrounded by motivating soldiers who keep me on my toes. To think that my life would be the postscript to any glory days in high school or the Marine Corps is laughable to me. They were, if anything, the prologue to an exciting, love-filled, and adventurous life. It may not have been the easiest road, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Sherry and I at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball in 2017. This was a candid photo taken by friends.

Whole30 Day 14 Wrap-Up

OK. So, day 14 is weird. It’s not really following any rules. You see, I woke up very late, and decided to go right into lunch instead of eating a super-late breakfast and then eating a lunch four hours later and then dinner three hours after that with my wife. So, I ended up doing a bit of a fast and then eating one of the prepared lunches Sherry preps for us as my first meal of the day. As for my weight, it was right at my lowest again. This makes me very, very happy, indeed!

Breakfast: Skipped due to sleeping in

Lunch: I had the amazing Moroccan Lamb dish Sherry made last week. The side with it was mashed garlic cauliflower. I had a coffee with it, and I felt completely filled up afterward. This is a super-delicious recipe that you should all try! (Darn it! I forgot to take a picture of it before I ate it all!)

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My dinner: Spaghetti Squash Bolognese.

Dinner: About seven hours after my lunch, I had my final meal of the day which was the spaghetti squash with bolognese sauce. This time I did get a photo of my dinner. I could have re-plated it, but I typically don’t because it just makes another dish dirty.

I lost 110 lbs in a year and kept it off for two years with this one crazy trick

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Spanish Churros and hot chocolate. Delicious? Absolutely. Bad for me? Definitely.

I kicked the sugar dragon.

Seriously.

Whether the sugar came in the form of grains, alcohol, or soft drinks, I quit them. Using that one crazy trick, I’ve been able to live a much healthier, fuller life.

Want to lose weight?

Let’s start with drinks. Stop drinking sodas. Stop drinking fruit juice. Stop drinking energy drinks or vitamin water. All of these things have sugar in them. If you saw just how much sugar was contained in some of these drinks, you’d be shocked. In some cases, the sugar content is so high, it’s almost to the point of saturation.

Next, let’s move to savory foods. Things like bread, pasta, pizza, chips, crackers, and just about anything in the center aisles of the supermarket have lots of sugar in them. Take a look at the nutritional information sometime. Why some foods have sugar in them (and as a second, third, or fourth ingredient) is because when fat is removed from foods, it tastes bland, so they have to replace it with something to make people think it tastes good. Enter our enemy: sugar.

Finally, there’s the easy to identify sweets: desserts, candies, donuts, and treats. The vast majority of these are full of sugar. What’s interesting to me is that American desserts are so over-sweetened as compared to the desserts of other cultures. I remember, at the height of my sugar consumption, my mother made some traditional Hungarian pastries for me, and I commented to her that I thought she didn’t add enough sugar to it because it wasn’t sweet. She replied to me that it was sweetened as she always had made it, and suggested that I ate too much sugar and was desensitized to sweetness. I scoffed at the time, but I think she was completely right. When eating the very same pastry this past Christmas, I found it to be plenty sweet; almost too sweet for me, now.

My crazy trick to losing weight: cut the sugar as much as you can. Some doctors go so far as to say that sugar is a toxin to humans. While I won’t go that far, I do believe that it is the root of our obesity epidemic. Coupled with the horrible advice recommending low-fat and grain-based diets, it’s a perfect storm for poor health.

Kick the sugar dragon. Life is amazing when you don’t have it on your back!

Whole30 Day 13 Wrap-up

file (1)Another full night of sleep! That’s great news. It meant that my weight stayed the same, even after eating a pretty full dinner the night before.

Breakfast: Poached eggs, ham slices, and a waffle made of sweet potato. I know it sounds weird, but it was tasty and filling.

Lunch: A really delicious and spicy Paleo Jambalaya that Sherry makes. It has shrimp, sausage, and chicken in it and served over spaghetti squash.

Dinner: A bowl of butternut squash soup. This was a standard-sized soup bowl. I easily could have eaten another bowl because it was so delicious, but it did fill me up.

I’m going to start taking pictures of my meals starting tomorrow morning. I hope I remember! I will start showing what my serving sizes are.

As for my weight, it was the same today as yesterday. I will take that as a win!

The secret to losing weight

stomachs2014v2017The secret to losing weight is that there is no secret. We know how to do it. We’ve known for hundreds of years, even. Broken down simply, it is eat fewer calories than you take in. But, calories are not all created equally. Food that is easy to process will be stored more easily than food that is difficult to break down in our bodies. For that reason, it’s important to take in quality calories. That’s where whole, natural foods come in.

Can you eat wheat right off the blade? No. It gets stuck in your throat. I tried it as a kid, and I had wheat stuck in my throat for the most part of a day. It was an unpleasant experience, to say the least. It should have been a warning to me.

If you can eat it with nothing more than cutting and cooking, it’s most likely okay to eat. If you have to process it like wheat, rice, or sugar, chances are it’s not good for your body. But why would that be the case? Because our bodies were made to digest foods readily available to us: meat, vegetables, and fruits.

When we process foods, we make it much easier for our bodies to extract energy from. This is a great thing if you are running a marathon, but not so good if you are living anything other than a very active life. That means your body will extract the energy from the food with little effort and then need something to do with the excess energy. Our bodies take that extra energy and store it as fat. The more extra energy you put into your body, the more it stores it. Our bodies don’t want to be wasteful, so they hold on to every bit they get their “hands” onto.

So, to take it a step further, it’s not good enough to just eat fewer calories than  you expend because it’s difficult to limit calories alone. Calories in/calories out (CICO) diets fail the majority of the time because they don’t address the most difficult part of such diets: cravings.

Cravings come from the brain sending signals to the body to consume food to acquire energy. The problem comes in that sugar doesn’t suppress or even satisfy cravings; it actually intensifies them. So, the more cravings you experience and satisfy with sugar, the more cravings you will get. It’s a vicious cycle. It explains why I would literally be planning my next meal as I was eating one.

The secret I found was low-carb/high-fat (LCHF). By eating whole, solid, and good foods, I was able to lose 110 lbs in a year. I didn’t have to starve myself, and cravings went away within a week or two of starting my first Whole30.

If you’re looking for an easy way to lose weight, I hate to break it to you, but there is none. The multi-billion dollar diet industry isn’t in it for helping you. They are in it for the dollar. They sell ease and comfort when in reality, their products fall short of the promises and will leave you worse off than when you started. The truth is it takes some serious perseverance, motivation, and dedication to a healthy lifestyle to lose weight and to keep it off. Notice I didn’t say a fitness plan. That’s not necessary for losing weight. But the exercise industry won’t tell you that, either. They want you to try to sweat it all off. If you’re like I was, over 150 lbs overweight, there’s no amount of exercise that will get rid of that without changing one’s diet.

So, the secret is: eat good, whole, natural foods and avoid sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy, and soy. It works. And honestly, it’s no secret. It’s just not making anyone rich, so the info isn’t as easy to find or is often discredited.

Whole30 Day 12 Wrap-up

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My typical breakfast.

I got a lot of sleep last night, and I felt great when I woke up. I had a friend come over to help me build some shelves for Sherry, and it was a busy day full of running up and down stairs, painting, drilling, cutting, and otherwise doing general construction. It turned out to be a good time, though.

Breakfast: Sherry made us two eggs sunny-side up and three slices of bacon. No fruit or veggies on purpose. With coffee.

Lunch: Sherry made us quite the dandy lunch consisting of two apple and chicken sausages, some red cabbage, and some zucchini. It turned out very well, and was delicious and filling.

Dinner: This was a surprise from left-field that was absolutely incredible. She made a chipotle and onion shrimp served with spiralized zucchini. It was probably one of the tastiest meals I’ve had in a long time. My friend, who doesn’t normally like vegetables, raved about how delicious the food was, and he said his wife needs the recipe. The coolest part: Sherry made it up tonight! I hope she will be posting this recipe to her site, soon. It’s worth trying!

I felt good all day. Even though I was running up and down stairs and active for a very long time, I felt really good. I got to bed very late due to playing video games, but Sherry let me sleep in, and I got enough rest.