Ahead of Schedule

After my run yesterday, I weighed myself in at 174.1 lbs. This is the second time I weighed 174 lbs in the past few days, but I didn’t count the first one because I thought it was a scale mis-read. Turns out, it’s possible I am weighing in the 174 range. And this is great news.

I planned/plan on progress of 2.5 lbs per week. I’m in my third week, and I’m ahead of schedule. I started this latest round of discipline at 183.8 lbs, and as of last night, weighing 174.1 lbs gives me a total loss so far of 9.7 lbs. That puts me at just .3 lbs from this week’s 2.5 lbs goal.

Sherry and I were discussing weight loss last night after my run, and we both noted how we both either lose weight or size, but not both at the same time. I went through a 3-4 day period of not losing any weight, but noticing my trousers getting looser. Then, 4 lbs went away almost overnight, while the clothes still feel the same. She’s experiencing the same thing right now: clothes are getting looser although she’s not shedding the weight.

If I can keep this progress moving, I’ll be happy. If I can get to 172 lbs (or somewhere close) by the end of this week, I would be elated. If not? That’s okay, too. After all, these are goals, not hard numbers I must hit for anything other than peace of mind.

Remember the following:

  • Goals are nothing more than tools used to motivate. If you don’t reach one, analyze your process and the goal itself. Was it realistic? Was it aggressive? Did you do everything in your power to reach it?
  • Weight and size very rarely are lost at the same time. For me and others, it’s one or the other, and is like a pendulum swinging back and forth. Don’t fret losing one and not the other. It’ll come.

Mostly unscathed

IMG_5052I escaped the weekend mostly unscathed by a bit of alcohol consumption. My weight was still very good Monday morning (176.1 lbs), but I can’t help but to think of how much better I would have done if it were not for that night of drinking Scotch with a good friend. Although Sherry and I are not officially on a Whole30 right now, the food we are eating this month is all Whole30 compliant with the exception of the occasional meal in a restaurant that is Paleo, or the odd occasion when a good friend from out of town comes in to visit.

With that said, my biggest disappointment with last week and in myself is that I didn’t exercise nearly as much as I planned and or need. I am suffering from a bout of the “I don’t feel like-its,” and I need to get past it. I will be running after work today as long as it’s not raining (and it’s not forecast to be raining today), and hopefully I’ll be back on track this week.

My goal is to be at 174 lbs by Friday. Sherry prepped some amazing foods for us this week, and I look forward to all my lunches being amazing, delicious, and healthy. I have drill with the National Guard this coming weekend, so that means packing my typical drill weekend lunches which are Epic bars, Larabars, RXBars, and That’s It! bars. I’m fortunate that I will be able to eat breakfast and dinners at home, so at least there’s that.

Spice Things Up!

One of the most important discoveries we’ve made with preparing tasty Paleo-friendly food is to spice it more than recipes call for. A trick many restaurants use to make food taste amazing is to add more spices to the food than people do at home. Sherry sometimes even doubles spice amounts in recipes to great effect!

In line with this, I was thinking about one of my favorite spices one day: chipotle. I love it with chicken, beef, pork, and in sauces. So, I figured I’d look online to see how easy or difficult it is to make chipotle on my own. It turns out it’s very simple and is nothing more than smoked jalapeno peppers, and I went about and tried it with great success.

How to make your own chipotle

Things you will need:

  • A smoker (electric, old-fashioned, bbq grill with smoker box)
  • Red jalapeno peppers (1 lb to start with is good)
  • A coffee grinder (that you will NOT use to grind coffee with)
  • Small funnel
  • A toothpick
  • A container to put your delicious chipotle powder into

Buy some red jalapenos. They will be a little deflated compared to green jalapenos, and that’s fine. We are going to dry them out, anyway.

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Wash the red jalapenos and cut the ends off of them (the stem end).

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After you’ve chopped the ends off the jalapeno, you can place them on the smoker rack as I have done below. Some people will slice the peppers in half and de-seed them. I have found that you can de-seed later, and it’s actually a lot easier and less messy. But that’s getting ahead of things, so let’s just put those peppers on the rack.

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I use cherry wood to smoke my chipotle, but you can use any fruit wood like apple or pecan (which is what Mexicans traditionally use). Mesquite can be a bit much for it, but feel free to experiment. The beauty of making your own chipotle is you can make different kinds to give different flavors to your foods.

I put the peppers in the smoker for 3 hours at 250 degrees. I make sure to get good, solid smoke going for the first hour, and let the peppers sit in the smoker for an additional two hours to dry them out.

When you pull them out, they will look like this and smell amazing!

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At this point, your chipotle peppers (yes, they are no longer just red jalapeno peppers anymore!) will smell great and should be very hard and crunchy. Now, this next part is kind of fun: taking out the seeds (which is optional).

You have to decide right now on how spicy you want your chipotle to be. If you want it to be as mild as possible (which is still a bit spicy, by the way), then you can remove the seeds by inserting a toothpick (I know you were wondering why the recipe called for a toothpick, right?) and carefully scratching the inside of the pepper until the seeds all fall out. You can elect to capture the seeds and grind them up individually to make a very spicy chipotle (which I did).

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Once the seeds are removed, you then take the peppers, smash them up in your hands, put the broken up pieces into a coffee grinder, and then grind for about 15-20 seconds.

What you should end up with is a very fine powder that looks something like this. BEWARE: The dust needs to settle inside the coffee grinder before you open it. If you open it too quickly, the dust will get into your eyes, nose, and lungs, and it can feel like you were sprayed with pepper spray. How do I know this? As a former Military Policeman, I trained with pepper spray, and we had to be sprayed to be certified to carry it. I was reminded of how terrible that sensation is the first time I made chipotle. But I digress. Look how awesome this chipotle powder looks!

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Next, use a small funnel and put the powder into a container of your choosing.

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Voila! You now have your own chipotle powder ready for use or for gifting. I made three different versions from the peppers I used: seedless, seeded (literally just the entire peppers ground up), and ground seeds (very spicy chipotle). With that said, the mildest is pretty spicy, but not so much as to be considered “hot.” I’d just call it a medium spicy.

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Mild (just pepper), Spicy (whole pepper with seeds), and HOT (ground seeds).

Give this a try if you have a smoker. It’s a lot of fun to make your own spices, and honestly, it’s the best smelling and tasting chipotle I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to make more things with it. So far, I’ve used it with ribs I smoked as well as putting a little bit into some hamburger patties I made last week that Sherry loved so much.

Spice things up! Make your food delicious! And share with friends and family. People love home-made gifts, especially when it’s something so useful, thoughtful, and delicious!

Food=Fuel

paleomarinecomimages_21_original_bueenboc3zk-1This is a very basic concept, and I was reminded of it by a comment earlier this week, but it’s an important point I have made many times in the past that should probably be reiterated: food is fuel.

When you are changing your relationship with food and adopting a new lifestyle in regards to your health, it’s important for you to see food for what it is: fuel. Many of us have seen food as something to take comfort in, to be entertained by, or to be eaten as much and as often as possible. I was in this last group: I used to eat as much as I could as often as I could because it made me feel good. I actually enjoyed feeling full. Of course, this caused my weight to balloon up to past 312 lbs. I had to make a change or risk serious health consequences.

There are many who seek comfort in food. I get it; some of our warmest memories are often tied to foods we ate as children or with loved ones. The smell and the flavor of foods can bring back those warm memories and make us feel good. Nothing will ever change that, but we can control how often we turn to food for comfort. I no longer allow myself to partake in comfort foods that aren’t Paleo. Fortunately for me, there are many foods I ate in abundance in my childhood that I can consider comfort foods that were made from whole and natural ingredients. If you are not one of those people, then it will admittedly be more difficult to cut out the comfort foods, but perhaps looking for an analogue made with Paleo-friendly ingredients may be a solution.

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This was an exception to my eating Paleo: a gift from my aunt of one of my favorite foods growing up: Portillo’s Hot Dogs from Chicago.

Many of us eat for entertainment. Whether it’s eating at social gatherings, in social settings, or just plain eating for the sake of experiencing new things, eating is very often used for entertainment. This is something we can easily curb and limit as there are many foods that can be eaten in social settings that are Paleo-friendly. I find myself being able to mitigate any negative impact on my health quite easily, and only rarely do I find myself having to partake in foods that are not healthy for me.

Food is fuel, plain and simple. As my grandmother used to say, “Eat to live, don’t live to eat.” It’s a simple little quote, and I remember hearing her say it often when I was a child and even a young adult, but it never quite hit me until I was having to change how I looked at food. It’s a good mantra to remind yourself that while we like eating food that is tasty, it is, in the end, nothing more than fuel.

Right on track

file-4Sticking to the basic tenets of good nutrition and discipline is getting me exactly what I hope for and expected based on past experience: I’m down over 8 lbs in as many days. My hope was for 5 lbs the first week and 2.5 lbs each additional week. So far, I’m ahead of that in my progress, and I can’t say I’m surprised. Happy? Definitely. Surprised? No. Here’s why.

I’ve been there and done that. I lost 130 lbs in one year and an additional 20 lbs in the following year. The difference in those two years is that for the first year, my body started morbidly obese, and when I started eating properly, my body eventually worked its way down to the weight it was comfortable being. Then, I continued to eat properly and added regular exercise into the mix and was able to get down to 165 lbs (and actually, I was able to get to 160.1 lbs as an all-time low).

I wrote about how I allowed my weight to rise because I know how easy it is to lose weight when I really want to. That worked against me because I just put off the work that needed to be done to keep my weight at a good level instead of spreading the work out and doing a little bit every day. Well, last Tuesday, it was time to pay the piper, and here I am.

I trust in the process, and I’m doing the work. The net result is I’ve lost over 8 lbs in that time, exactly according to plan. After the next 5 lbs, that’s when the real work begins. Getting below 170 lbs for me is where things start getting really slow, and it’s where I have to be 100% perfect with my diet and exercise to get down to the lower 160’s. I’ll get there, though, and I’ll work hard to keep my weight there.

Your diet is like a boyfriend/girlfriend

IMG_2030I wrote yesterday about my three ingredients to a solid foundation in a healthy lifestyle and weight loss. I firmly believe in those three (but, actually four!) important ideas, but here’s something else I want to discuss: lifestyle change.

Diets are defined as the food you eat. Not the food you eat temporarily to lose weight as many people would define the word. We’re talking about the food you eat on a daily basis, as the standard range of food you eat in your lifestyle. My diet is the Paleo Diet, and every now and then (including right now), I adopt a more restrictive diet called Whole30. While my primary goal is typically weight loss when I do a Whole30, the actual work being done is the following:

  • Reducing my carb intake and mitigating any effect sugar has on my diet
  • Reducing my portion sizes

So, how does this relate to the title of this post? Well, I picture diets as sort of like a boyfriend or girlfriend. You chose to have one. You enter into a relationship with them, and they can bring you comfort, joy, and security, or at worse, they can cause pain, illness, and even jeopardize your health. The good news is that you are in control of this relationship, and you can terminate it at any time. The better news is that unlike a boyfriend or girlfriend, you can immediately begin a new relationship without repercussions and change your life for the better.

Changing one’s lifestyle isn’t easy. It means looking at food in a whole new way, and it also means relying on the three tenets of the foundation I laid out in yesterday’s post, but once you get through the first two-three weeks, it just becomes your way of life, and things get much easier.

Break up with that bad boyfriend or bad girlfriend and begin a new, healthy lifestyle by eating right. Whether that means Whole30, Paleo, Keto, CICO, IF, etc doesn’t matter so much as you dedicate yourself to making the change.

Food Prep, Perseverance, and Sleep

IMG_3807Those are my top three ingredients to weight loss. The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that those three are at the core of my success.

Food Prep

I have to hand it to Sherry here; she is the force behind our food prep, and while I help her, she’s the mastermind. From making the plans for the menu, putting together the shopping list, shopping, and actually preparing and packaging the food is mostly all on her volition. I help at every stage: I help her decide what we’re going to eat, I go shopping with her, and I sous chef for her, but I let her do the packaging. I would put too much food into the containers; she helps me control my portion sizes.

The food prep allows us to have readily-available food for lunches daily as well as for dinners throughout the week. After a long day at work, sometimes the last thing we want to do is labor in the kitchen. The times when we come home hungry and are impatient are the most dangerous times for anyone trying to eat healthy food. It is at those times that the fast and easy options look best, but often these are the worst possible foods to eat. Fortunately for food prep, we have healthy options available to us at all times which means we never have to resort to eating fast food.

Perseverance

This encompasses many different things: sticking to a lifestyle/diet, being patient with the progress, trusting in the process, and putting in the requisite effort. Without perseverance, there really is nothing to do. Motivation, dedication, resisting temptation: these are all parts of perseverance. I have written about these things extensively in the past.

Sleep

This is the secret weapon to weight loss. I rarely see it mentioned as prominently as it should be. I rank it as an equal to diet and exercise. Without getting a solid night’s sleep, your body holds onto weight as a source of energy to use when you’re tired. Also, your body heals and processes while sleeping. When you short change your sleep, you short change your progress and miss out on making making the maximum progress.

Honorable mention: Sabotage

There is no such thing as cheat days. Get it out of your head now. It’s actually sabotage: destroying progress physically and mentally. Any progress you make in weight loss can be easily erased with one day of eating bad foods, and each time you cheat makes it easier to cheat again. My advice is just don’t do it. Don’t even allow it or plan for it. Avoid at all costs.