Alcohol Consumption

File_000 (28).jpegAs someone who sticks to a very strict Paleo diet, alcohol is something I do only in extremely rare situations. This past Saturday was one such situation: our friends Steve and Anita came over, and we decided to have some wine. While Sherry and Anita had some Moscato, Steve and I drank some Rudy’s Red, a chocolate-infused wine that we buy on the Bluebonnet Wine Trail at Peach Creek Winery. I love that stuff. I love it so much that I drank all but one glass worth of the bottle.

I was fully expecting my weight to skyrocket the next as it had in the past anytime I drank alcohol in large quantities, but it didn’t happen this time. My weight held steady. This was a huge victory, and I think thanks in large part to the fact that I kept my eating in-check.

Normally, when I drink, I end up eating not only more than I normally would, but also foods I would normally avoid. My defenses against temptation are weakened when I drink, and I think that’s why my weight soars.

I’m not going to be adding alcohol to my regular consumption list anytime soon, but I think I learned something about how I deal with food and temptation a bit. This will help me deal with food while imbibing alcohol in the future, and will keep me from doing any more damage than necessary to my progress toward my final weight goal.

A Little Exercise: Better than None

File_000 (31)I admit it: I have started to do a little exercise.

I wrote about me doing kettle bell swings. I had to stop when I hurt my back a few days after starting (completely unrelated to the swings, btw). This past week, however, my back finally felt good enough to allow me to start something. Anything. So I did.

After reading a Reddit article, I decided to start with doing a bunch of push-ups every day. It’s not a lot, and to most people who are gym rats, it’s laughable. But remember this: I haven’t done any serious exercise since leaving the Marines in 1997. I’m not going to jump in and hit the ground running and injure myself. I’m going to gradually get back into it and take it slowly.

As it stands, I still have daily soreness from just these few push-ups I do every day. I do the few that I do and I feel like I did when I was at my physical peak after I’d run a mile and a half. Yes, I’m horribly out of shape. I know that.

I will start increasing my number of push-ups later this week. I’ll also try to make some time to possibly get back to walking every day, or at least every other day. I’ll also re-start the kettle bell regimen. I want to strengthen and tone what’s under all my excess skin so that as the skin shrinks (which it has been doing so nicely, I might add), there will be something nice to see.

This is the hardest part of the entire journey: sweating for some results. I can’t say I enjoy it, nor do I like it, but I am tolerating it. I’ll be doing my best to keep it up. I just hope I don’t injure myself anytime soon.

Continue reading “A Little Exercise: Better than None”

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The Food Lobby and How it’s Killing Us

At the grocery store on Sunday, Sherry and I saw a bunch of big people there who were all trying to eat well: low-fat, whole grain, and organic fruit juices were among the items in their carts. These people actually believe that eating that food is good for them. It’s what they’ve been taught their whole lives, and by God, they’re doing their best to “Eat right.” To me, this is criminal. Our system, our health professionals, and our government have let these people down. What’s worse is that the food lobbies pay for professionals to keep spewing horrible nutrition advice to keep selling their horrible foods.

In the grocery store, it’s amazing to see how little of the food is actually good for you. I would estimate that nearly 85% of the items on the shelves for consumption have some kind of sugar in them. A lot of that comes from wheat, rice, beans, dairy, or straight-up sugar like corn syrup or other sweeteners. It’s morbidly laughable how many of these items sell themselves as “Heart healthy,” or “Gluten Free” (as if Gluten Free meant it was somehow better for you).

I don’t blame fat people for being fat. I know how easy it is to get to that point where you’re 50, 60, or even 100 lbs overweight. It creeps up on you like a ninja in the night. I blame our government, our education system, the majority of our medical and nutrition professionals, and I blame wholeheartedly the food lobbies and food manufacturers for outright lying to us about what is healthy and what is not.

The problem is that this won’t change anytime soon. There’s too much money to be made selling horrible food to people. The profit margins on fries, pizzas, and hamburgers is too high to give up. Breakfast cereals? How much money is made on breakfast cereals?

The breakfast cereal industry has gross profit margins of 40-45%, 90% penetration in some markets, and steady and continued growth throughout its history.

I don’t see any of these companies giving up on these types of profits anytime soon. After all, the only thing they care about is shareholder value. The heck with us and our health as a nation.

Pulled Pork and Apple Breakfast Casserole

Sherry is amazing. She’s not only smart and beautiful, but she’s been so very supportive of me and my efforts to get healthy. She literally slaves in the kitchen all day on Sundays to make sure we have lunches, and last night, she topped herself by making a breakfast casserole for us to have for breakfast this week.

We smoked a pork shoulder yesterday (I put it in the smoker at 5:30 a.m. and took it off the smoker at 7 p.m.) and after dinner, I looked over at the huge pile of meat we had (10 lbs before smoking). I wondered out loud if there was some sort of Paleo breakfast food that could be made with pulled pork. She took that as a challenge and began scouring the Internet for ideas. She found a great one:  a Pulled Pork Apple and Egg Casserole. She spent a few hours making it last night and after it was done, she put it into the refrigerator.

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This morning, we had it for breakfast, and WOW was it delicious! I had mine with just a little salt, but she had hers with some Paleo-friendly barbecue sauce (Bone Suckin’ Sauce). The medley of flavors was really delicious and I’m looking forward to having this for breakfast again tomorrow and hopefully on Thursday as well!

Back to the bragging: Sherry is tireless in her efforts to help us succeed at Paleo. She’s knocking the “Domestic Diva” title out of the ballpark, and she continually tops herself with each subsequent meal. I feel like I’m eating better, tastier food today than I have in many years, and I don’t miss eating out all the time. When the food is so good at home, you no longer want to eat at restaurants (except for the convenience of it all).

I thank her all the time for her hard work and the love she puts into everything she does. I wanted to make this very public post about how wonderful she is, and how much richer my life is because of her.

Changes in Perception

This article isn’t so much about Whole30, Paleo, or motivation. It’s some observations I’ve had since losing over 105 lbs in under a year.

File_000 (29)When I was fat, I used to notice the skinny people. I would look at them and think, “Wow. I wish I were them.” I would wonder whether it was genetics, or if they were exercising their guts out. Maybe they were just lucky and never got fat like I did. Either way, I noticed them all the time. As for the other fat people, they were unnoticed; they were like me. Heck, I even felt better among them: like being a bird in a flock of similar birds.

Now, I feel like a fish out of water most times. Now that I’m into what I would call normal sizes, I notice the fat people, and there are so many of them. It’s alarming how many people in our society are not just overweight, but obese. I’m not saying this to shame anyone, or to make anyone feel bad. I say this because it’s what I see. And what I feel for every large person I see is sadness.

IMG_0017I feel sorry for them because I know they don’t want to be that big. I know first-hand what it’s like to be that big, and I know it hurts in more ways than just in the knees. I feel sorry for them because they’ve been lied to all their lives about nutrition and diet.

Now, I notice the overweight people looking at me. I know what they’re thinking. I feel their stares, and I avert my eyes. I feel guilty in their presence for being thin now because I know they think I judge them. I don’t. They believe that I think they are weak or gluttons. I know they are not. I’m sure some could never imagine that I was just like them not so long ago.

I don’t say a word to them about nutrition, health, or losing weight unless I’m asked or unless it comes up in conversation. I know that’s hard to believe after reading this site, but it’s the truth.

File_000 (25)After nearly a year, I also find that I don’t talk about my weight loss or nutrition as much among friends unless it comes up in normal conversation. Sherry and I are asked all the time for nutrition tips, food recommendations, or recipes, and we gladly oblige, but I feel that we’ve slowed down our talking about our weight loss.

I use this website to let out the pressure that builds up inside me like an Instant Pot. I have to get this stuff off my chest online otherwise I would explode.

Our perceptions of ourselves and others have changed a lot. The way we see the world has changed. Some of the things we see now are amazing, beautiful, and wonderful while others are heartbreaking and sad. It’s a new adventure and experience every day. We just have to learn to roll with it and make the best of it.

With that said, living the thinner life is definitely better in so many ways. I just wanted to shed some light on some of the things we’ve noticed since losing the all the weight we’ve lost.

Achievement Unlocked: Chayote

The latest from the kitchen with Sherry. I’m glad she accepted the dare on the chayote. It’s really delicious!

Our Daily Bacon

Admittedly, I would never have tried this if E.J. hadn’t practically dared me to, but this weekend, I tried a new recipe with a completely new vegetable.  I don’t know if I even remember seeing the chayotes (or mirlitons) in the grocery store before, but E.J. said he really enjoyed them in dishes he ate when he was stationed overseas many years ago.

To me, the flavor is kind of like a cross between zucchini and a bell pepper.  It’s not very strong flavored and is pretty soft when boiled, but firm enough to hold on to stuffing, which is how I ended up using it for this dish.  Apparently Shrimp-Stuffed Mirlitons are a New Orleans delicacy, and I can see why – with shrimp and crab in a soft shell, it’s both fancy and flavorful.  I decided to amp up the flavor with garlic powder, thyme, oregano, and cayenne…

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I was fat. Really fat. I don’t say overweight; that would be making light of the situation I found myself in after years of neglecting my nutrition and health. I was facing failing health and issues that, if not attacked head-on, would kill me.

Near my maximum of 311 lbs.

After a lot of consideration and reading, I undertook a lifestyle that I would be able to stick with for the rest of my life that I could actually enjoy without suffering and being hungry. I also wanted a lifestyle where I could use exercise for strength and stamina and not to regulate my weight. I didn’t want to become a gym rat. What I came upon was Whole30 and Paleo.

The hardest part was addressing my relationship with food. I had to break up with sweets, foods with high-carbs, and those that had added sugars. Breaking up was hard to do, but like being in a bad or abusive relationship, I had to get out and not look in the rear view mirror. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t hard, either. It had to be done, I did it, and I moved on.

Once we began our journey, we took strength from each other. We would bolster each others’ resolve to stick with it, to eat right, to eat serving sizes that were correct, and to avoid temptation. Some days were harder than others, and there were times when one of us had to pick the other back up, but we did it as a team, and we overcame the darkest days.

Left: September, 2015. Right: July, 2016

After a few months, we found that we had settled comfortably into our new lifestyle. Our foods were no longer different; they were our meals. They no longer had strange textures; they were our meals. The foods that we thought we didn’t like or weren’t our favorites were quickly becoming foods we enjoyed and looked forward to. What surprised me the most was that many of the foods I swore would be so difficult to give up no longer looked appealing to me anymore. Bread, pasta, donuts, cake, sweets: none of these elicit cravings anymore. Temptation has all but evaporated for these items for me.

Nearly a year after beginning, I’ve lost over 105 lbs (125 lbs total weight from my heaviest), and I feel great. I have more energy, more flexibility, and I feel better in every aspect of my life. Although it’s been eleven months, the transformation feels like it took place overnight. I still marvel at the changes that have taken place. I am still surprised by the man looking back at me in the mirror every morning.

I am often asked what the secret or the key to my success has been. I think the best answer is that I had a ring of keys that led to my success:

  • Information: I was armed with a lot of information that allowed me to make an informed decision about what lifestyle to adopt.
  • Teamwork: I had my wife to help me get through this. She planned and made our meals, and motivated me when I needed it.
  • Mindset: I broke up with bad foods and decided to stick with this no matter what. I ignored cravings in the beginning of my journey and stuck with it with steely dedication.

I didn’t see results overnight. I didn’t even really see the results after my first month when I lost 20 lbs. I have to say that I lost over 50 lbs before I could really see the changes, and a full 80 lbs before I felt like I had really made changes that others would see. Now at over 105 lbs lost, the changes are too large to ignore, and even people who I’ve known for decades sometimes don’t recognize me.

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The best part of my story is that it can be your story, too. You can do this. I have no super power that makes me special or allowed me to lose all this weight. My story is not atypical or unattainable. You can do this; you just have to be as strict and motivated about it as I am. I promise you that if you put in the effort, you will see results.