It begins: Exercise

Today is the day that I finally began doing some exercise. My weight loss has slowed considerably, and it’s at this point that I feel I need to do more physically to burn more calories, to start building up some muscle, and to hopefully kick-start some metabolism.

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I think my route looks like a stick-figure superman. Kind-of.

I was a Marine for 12 years, so I’m no stranger to exercise, or what we call “PT (Physical Training).” I was just never a big fan of it. I get bored easily, and while running or riding a bicycle, I was always thinking that there are better, more intellectual things I could be doing. And then there’s the physical exertion part of it that I was never a fan of.

The irony of it all is that I do enjoy how I feel after exercise. That part is great! But the actual exercise? It’s more like mental torture.

So, today I rode my bicycle for 20 minutes. I know it’s not a lot, but it’s a start, and it was all I could do today. When I hit the 15 minute mark, my butt was hurting and my hands were numb. I told myself I had to do a minimum of 20 minutes, which I did. I did find that it was easier than the last time I rode my bike (when I was at least 75 lbs heavier) even with tires that weren’t inflated properly (I’ll fix that tomorrow), but I still have a lot of work to do to get better strength and stamina. I hope to be able to actually go on trails someday.

I weighed myself after the ride: not much change since my last weigh-in yesterday morning, but I chalk that up to eating a bit too much last night (some amazing Paleo Primal Cannelloni Sherry made for dinner!) Otherwise, the muscles feel good (I didn’t over-exert myself and I stretched before the ride and did some cool-down riding afterward), I feel good, and I think I’ll be ready for more tomorrow morning.

Wish me luck. Sticking with exercise has never been a strong suit of mine.

Categories PT

Beware of Advice for Fit/Healthy People if you’re not one of them

I keep seeing posts on Facebook posted by friends and people whom I respect or admire that contain rather dubious advice regarding nutrition and diet. I know they think they’re doing us all a favor, but what troubles me most about these posts is that they are fine for those who are already in good shape and at an ideal weight, but for those of us who are still trying to lose weight? Horrible advice. Here’s an example:

“It’s okay to have a cheat day.”

NO. It’s NOT okay to have cheat days. Our bodies don’t like it. When we’re making progress, the LAST thing our bodies want or need is to be taken off the rails by a cheat day. Like I’ve said time and time again, it’s actually sabotage.

Here’s another example: “Just eat what you want. If it has carbs, eat it, because your body knows better than you what you need.”

Not if you’re addicted to sugar. Sugar tricks the brain and creates cravings for more (you guessed it) SUGAR! You simply need to cut out sugar and greatly reduce carbs. To ignore this fact is to ignore the root cause of  your excessive weight.

My final example: “Eat whatever you want. Just eat less of it.”

I used to believe this, and I got to 312 lbs at my heaviest. “But I only ate four pieces of deluxe pizza. That’s better than eating six!” Calories are not created equal, and foods of equal calorie amounts have different net calories. What’s worse is the effect of sugar and carbs on the brain, as well as how the body processes and stores it.

Look; I can’t spell it out any more clearly for you: reduce your carb intake. Eliminate foods that have added sugars. Don’t eat processed foods. Don’t eat foods made in vegetable oil. Eat more wild-caught fish. Eat whole foods. Try a Whole30. Try Paleo. Try Keto. Do SOMETHING that changes your eating habits and embrace a more healthy lifestyle. To do otherwise will make weight loss very difficult and will likely result in failure.

You cannot exercise all the fat away while eating horribly. You can try, but you will be very, very tired while I sit here losing weight with all kinds of energy and with less sweat because I went Whole30 and then Paleo.

The Emotions of my Journey

So, I’ve been writing with advice and motivation, but I haven’t been as forthcoming with how it has felt to be losing all this weight. I will rectify that oversight with this post.

It’s amazing.

EJ160221I feel great. I look great. I haven’t felt this youthful since I was 30. I am able to jump, run, and stretch in ways I could only dream of doing a mere six months ago. I literally feel like they took my brain and put it into a younger and thinner person’s body. The irony is that I’m still not “thin” by health standards, but compared to where I was almost 94 lbs ago (from my highest) and 75 lbs ago (from August 31), I feel thin, and it feels great!

It’s scary.

My wife has never heard me say that, but as much as I enjoy the new me, the new clothes, and my reflection in the mirror, there is a fear that somehow, this is a fluke. That at some point, regardless of what I do, it’ll all come back and I’ll be as heavy or heavier than before. That I’ll let myself and everyone I care about down.

That is what fuels my drive to never let that happen.

That is why I keep my “head in the game” to conquer that fear and to never let what I fear come to pass.

It’s motivating (technically not an emotion, but…).

Seeing the results, whether they are on the scale or in how my clothes feel on me, motivates me to keep going. There’s nothing that puts a smile on my face as easily first thing in the morning as seeing smaller numbers on my nemesis, the scale. On those days when the number doesn’t move (which has happened a lot to me in the past three weeks!), I have to take solace in knowing that it’s a long-term process, and that just because the scale isn’t rewarding my hard work, the loose fit of my pants are.

It’s aggravating.

Like I was saying in the paragraph above, when the scale doesn’t give me lower numbers, it is aggravating. When I eat a little too much in a day, I get aggravated with myself. When I allow myself to eat something questionable (not completely out of our eating plan, but not within), I become aggravated with myself.

It’s heartbreaking.

When I see people who are morbidly obese like I was, or when I talk to people who tell me they could never do what I am doing, it breaks my heart. I feel sad for them because I know anyone can do this. I am not super-human, nor do I possess any super-strength or motivation. I am not an expert or pro at losing weight. I’m just a guy who found a way of eating that works for him that requires very little physical effort. Watching people put away the horrible sugar and carb-rich foods when they are obese yet trying to do what they think is everything in their power to lose weight yet continue to fail, it is heartbreaking.

It’s satisfying.

In the end, I’m happy with where I’m at. I was unhappy as a huge guy, and yes, I’m happier as I’m thinner. I’ve read that losing weight will not make someone unhappy magically become happy. Of course, that’s true; weight loss in and of itself doesn’t bring happiness. What it has done for me, however, was give me more confidence, give me a better body image which in turn makes me feel better about myself which in turn makes me generally happier. I am satisfied with my journey so far, and I’m optimistic for where I’m headed. Sure, I expect the trend to slow as I get closer to my target weight, but progress is still being made, and at a rate that is both acceptable and exciting.

Total progress so far:

Current weight: 214.9 lbs
Weight lost since September 1: -75 lbs
Weight lost since highest: -94 lbs
Target weight: 175 lbs
Loss to go: 40 lbs

Yes, Sugar is the Enemy

If there’s any one thing you should get out of reading my blog, I hope it is this: Sugar IS the ENEMY. In no uncertain terms, and without beating around the bush, I say it loud and clear:

SUGAR IS THE ENEMY

Can I be any more to the point? It’s in foods that should never have, or historically have never had sugar in them, yet the food industry puts it in there. Doesn’t that make you wonder why? I know some of you are saying, “Well yeah sugar is in there; it makes everything better!” Or, “I love sugar in things like bacon, barbecue, French fries, and even my omelettes.” Of course you do! That’s what they wanted to happen. As you get addicted to the sugar, your brain makes the association with the food, and thus you want more. You crave it.

Sugar is every bit as addictive as hard drugs like cocaine or opiates. There have been studies that not only show the similarities, but prove that it works on the brain the same way drugs do. Heck, even the Federal Government has recently started advocating a low-sugar diet instead of a low-fat diet which (Surprise!) it turns out, isn’t the best diet to be on. Why? Because it’s sugar that drives our fat storage, not our intake of fats.

Sherry and I now know first hand what it’s like to kick a drug habit. Both of us have never been addicted to any illegal drugs, but when we both kicked sugar, we went through some serious withdrawals. Our Whole30 experience was a good one, but I’ve said it before that the first week was hellish. For Sherry, it was worse, because she ate more sugary foods than I did, but it was bad for me, too.

I see people online and on Facebook advocating exercise plans and diets that don’t require you to, “Give up any food groups,” and they consider carbs to be a food group. Okay, all carbs aren’t necessarily bad. I have carbs every day, but in very limited quantities. But… But… But… Carbs aren’t a food group!!! Limiting carbs isn’t depravation given all the evidence we now have on how it affects our bodies. I have not been deprived or starving or craving ANYTHING since I kicked my sugar habit. If anything, kicking sugar has liberated me and that is a huge part of why I feel so energetic and why I feel so great.

Anyone can do what I am doing. Anyone. It doesn’t take any special skills. Okay, so maybe you have to be able to read, which, and I’m going to take a huge leap here, but if you’re reading this right now, you can read what it takes to cut sugar. It also takes a few things I’ve mentioned recently like discipline and determination sprinkled with some motivation, but those are things I think all of us have inside of us. It is just a matter of how well we listen to that nagging voice in our heads telling us to do the right thing.

Don’t believe me? Try a Whole30. I’ll be honest: I know people who already ate well before trying it, and honestly, it didn’t do anything for them. For the rest of us who eat anything put in front of us that looks delicious, it’s worth doing. The way you feel afterward will be your motivation. The weight loss and change in your body will give you the discipline to keep going. You will be determined to live healthy, and to eat right.

The only thing holding you back from your own weight loss and healthy life is you. Once you can convince yourself to be all-in, it’s all down-hill from there. I’ve been there.

I’m not angry; I’m motivated.

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Me and HM3 Peter Rona in Bahrain during Operation Desert Shield

My wife gave me a critique of my blog a week or so ago. She said that it sounds like I have anger issues with regards to my weight. I laughed, because it struck me as so off-the-mark, but I reread my posts to make sure I wasn’t missing something.

It dawned on me that she’s a civilian, and like many who have never been around Marines when they are in “Leatherneck Mode,” it’s easy to perceive our motivation for anger. The tone, to the uninitiated, may appear similar, but is actually rooted in different areas.

When Marines are motivated, they are angry at the problem they are tasked with solving. They channel that anger into creating solutions. Those solutions can be anything from finding the best way to solve the problem to charging right into the problem and finding a solution from within. It is our drive, determination, and desire to solve the problem that fuels what people refer to as motivation.

Ever notice how serious we look when we’re working? My daughter used to say I have a “Mean face” whenever  I work, whether it was at my job or making dinner. I told her that it was just my resting face, but it later occurred to me that I was using my old Marine Corps moto (short for motivation).

So, perhaps my blog is angry, but only to civilian eyes. Marines and other service members will recognize it as motivation and seriousness, as I’m treating my new lifestyle with the utmost respect and giving it my 110% to succeed. There is no option to fail. I will not let myself and those who care about me down. I will succeed.

Proof is in the Pudding

Thanks to a great suggestion from Collin, here is what I ate (and will be eating) today.

Breakfast

  • No-Salt/No-Sugar Bacon (2 slices, thin cut)
  • 2 free-range eggs, sunny-side up

Lunch

  • Left-over Mexican Casserole (small serving)
  • 1 free-range egg, sunny-side up (placed on top of the casserole; yum!!!)

Dinner

  • Pecan smoked never-frozen pork baby back ribs (four ribs)
  • Smoked half of sweet potato (in smoker for 3 1/2 hours)

Yesterday’s meals were:

Continue reading “Proof is in the Pudding”