Real Questions and Real Answers

While I was on Facebook today, I received some questions from my friend Scott Allen. This is the transcript of that conversation.
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Scott: Ok, quick question. This is the first thing I thought about when I read an overview of Whole30…..what do I make a sandwich out of? Is there a type of bread, such as Ezekiel bread, that is allowed? Or am I just never meant to have another sandwich?

Continue reading “Real Questions and Real Answers”

Discipline and Determination

Those are the two words I would use to describe the most important skills I’ve had to employ so far during this journey toward being healthy and losing weight. Without discipline and determination, I would have failed a long time ago.

Discipline

We are faced with temptation daily, and often not only at mealtimes. For those who work in very social offices, it is a common occurrence for someone to bring in some bagels, donuts, or even pizzas for lunch. These are all foods that I can’t eat, so I have to resist the temptation to partake. In the beginning, it created some awkward social situations (people don’t understand how someone would pass on such yummy foods and perceive it as some sort of slight or display of rudeness), but I explained that it was for my health and that while I would love to have some and I’m sure it is delicious, I just can’t. Everyone understood. Now, friends try to make sure there is some sort of Paleo alternative available for me.

There are the lunches and dinners with friends, family, or co-workers that are at restaurants where chips or bread is served. Again, foods I can’t have. It takes a lot of discipline to pass on what I know to be utterly delicious bread or amazing salsa. I have to keep it in my mind that the detour of sabotage just isn’t worth the short-term gratification. I have to keep my eye on the prize: a thinner, healthier me.

Snacky snacks. I was never a snacking person, or so I thought, until I did my Whole30. I then realized just how often I’d sneak off to the kitchen to grab a snack of some sort. Now that I only eat three times a day, there are times when I’m bored or depressed when I feel like a snack would be the perfect thing to have. Now, in the past, I’ve said I don’t have cravings, and this is still true. It’s hard to put into words, but it’s not so much a craving because I’m hungry, but because I just want to experience eating. Therein lies a huge difference in what my body is saying, and now that I’ve learned to recognize it, I know that I need to occupy my mind to make the craving go away. However, to do so requires great discipline, something I never thought I had when it came to resisting a craving.

Determination

You have to want to be healthy and/or to lose weight more than anything else. You have to tell yourself, “Self: this is the most important thing I’ve ever attempted, and nothing will get in my way. You got that?” I literally had a conversation with myself (yeah, I know: that’s weird) where I told myself that I will not accept defeat. I will  not lose. I will not give in to temptations. I will not slip. I will not sabotage my progress. I will not let myself or my wife down. I will not ever wear the same old fat clothes again.

It is not easy to stay determined to reach a goal. I’m sure you can think of some long-term goal you’ve had in the past that was hard to reach. There are times when you feel like giving up, or you re-evaluate why you want to reach that goal in the first place. You might even re-think the goal and scale it back to make it more easily achievable. I face doubts from time to time, but in the end, I always come to the same thing: I will not fail. I will not be one of those people who loses a large amount of weight and then gains it back. This is not a diet plan I’m on: this is a lifestyle that I will enjoy for the rest of my life.

My wife tells me that I have more determination than her. I’m not so sure about that. Maybe because my health was worse off than hers, I had more motivation to get healthy, and thus my determination is amped. I don’t know. She is pretty hard-core on sticking with this new lifestyle, and she even told her mom that this is something she sees doing for the rest of her life. That makes me smile, because I want both of us to be healthy and strong and thinner than we currently are. It will make it easier for me to do.

I’m not Super Man, and I’m not using any Jedi mind tricks to do this. Just some discipline and determination. These are things that you possess. It only comes down to how well you harness these two skills to reach your own goals.

Our Daily Bacon

My wife, Sherry, and I have a joke about “our daily bacon.” As the Lord’s Prayer says, “Give us this day, our daily bread…” we start each of our days with our daily bacon. From our little joke comes Sherry’s new blog, Our Daily Bacon.

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Sherry and I at our Valentine’s Day dinner this year.

I am very proud of my wife, not just for starting her blog or making a very candid, heartfelt, and great first post, but for agreeing to go down the Paleo path with me that started by doing a Whole30. She told me I was crazy, and that there was no way she could do it, but when I told her that my health was failing and that it was only a matter of time before all the little issues compounded and killed me, she agreed. I’m sure she felt it was under duress and that I was strong-arming her into something she didn’t want to do, but I think she recognized that I wasn’t being dramatic or just trying to get her to do something she didn’t want to do. I will admit that I did want US to do it, not only because it’s easier for me to do something like this with some help, but because she needed it, too.

She was having her own health issues, all exacerbated by her weight. Her mother talked to me about it and asked me if I was okay with both of us being relatively young and beginning to experience the health issues we were seeing. I thought a lot about it, and I decided that it wasn’t okay. I also decided long ago that I wanted to live as long as I could to “Annoy and molest” my wife as long as possible. I put that in quotes, because I say that to her all the time. It is my prime directive.

I also want to be a grandfather.

I recommend following her blog. She’s a great writer (far better than she would ever give herself credit for. She’s such an engineer!) and she has plans for posting some of her amazing recipes and info about her exercise plan, what she does to work out, and how she pushes past those negative days when the scale fights her and doesn’t reward all her hard work. Go over and check it out. Trust me; it’ll be worth your time!

What negative 88 lbs looks like

On the left is me in July 2014 at 305 lbs and on the right this morning at 217 lbs.

ejfaceprogressWhen I took the photo on the left, I actually thought I looked good and, “Not so big.” Wow.

I can’t believe it. I can’t believe I made it this far. Seeing that I have 43 lbs to go is really on the down-hill slide for me in terms of reaching my goal. It feels great to be here.

If I’d have kept on eating the way I did five months ago, I’d still be the guy on the left. Sure, he could eat bread and pasta and drink sodas, but he’d be dying soon. His blood sugar was high, he was suffering from fatty liver, and his eye sight was failing. He was beginning to experience nerve damage in his feet, and he had to hold his breath to tie his shoes because his stomach was so big.

Now? All those things are in the past. Literally every one of them. I marveled this morning how I could tie my shoes as I bent over and could breathe the whole time. My blood test results are great, and I feel more energetic and youthful. At 48, I feel like I did in my late 20’s, and that’s no exaggeration.

I’ve been there before; seeing someone else make progress in a short period of time and wondering if I could have been there, too, had I only started. That is the hard part; starting.

The best advice I can give about this is just dive in and do it. Don’t look back. Don’t consider the bad foods in your refrigerator or pantry; just get rid of them. Just start. It’s the best thing my wife and I ever did, and I can’t ever see going back to being the guy on the left. Never again.

“But it’s so difficult; I could never do that.”

I hear that often from many people with whom I discuss my weight loss. It seems that self-control, motivation, and desire to be healthy and/or to lose weight loses out to short-term gratification. I talk to so many people who are miserable at their weight or unhappy with their declining health, yet they are unwilling to make choices that would preclude certain items from their diet.

Look, I never said it was easy. Heck, I think I’ve said more than a few times in previous posts that it’s hard work. However, I think that it really has to do with your mindset and what  you are willing to do.

Let’s take delicious foods that I can no longer eat. Spaghetti. Ravioli. Lasagna. You see where I’m going with this. All of those are super bad for me, and well, everyone else, too. Pasta is the “Debil!” I had to change how I looked at pasta: it’s a no-go. Ever. It wasn’t something I could “cheat” or eat every now and then. It’s not even something I will eat once I’m at my target healthy weight. It’s off-limits forever. Will I miss it? Absolutely. However, here’s the little trick I learned and it’s been working well for me: for every food I can no longer eat or have, there are hundreds or even thousands that are just as good or better for me, and in some cases, there are alternatives that while not wholly healthy, are healthier.

Paleo chocolate cake. Seriously. It’s amazing.

There are so many great foods out there that have healthy ingredients with no added sugar that I no longer miss the “bad” foods. Heck, Sherry even found a bread that we can have that is made with cashew butter instead of wheat. It is really good!

I will never find a 1:1 replacement for pasta. I don’t think it’s really possible, so for that reason alone, I’ve given it up. Forever. It’s drastic, but it works for me. In place of pasta, I eat many other foods that are super-delicious and healthy for me. Eating meals that taste great goes a long way toward making the tough decisions easier and it makes it easier to stick with a healthy eating plan. Eating the same salad or baked chicken breast day after day would kill me, and I’d have been back to eating horribly months ago.

Current weight: 219.1: 70.8 lbs lost. It’s a little slower in the past week than I’d like, but I lost another inch or two off my waist, so I’m not complaining. It’s not all about weight; I have to remind myself of that sometimes.

Salads all the time?

No. No, no, no, no, NO!

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I know people who tell me they couldn’t do what I’m doing because they don’t like to eat salads and baked chicken all the time. Well, I don’t like that either, and honestly, I can’t remember the last time I had salad and grilled chicken (three or four weeks ago, maybe?).

Eating right doesn’t mean eating salad all the time. Eating right doesn’t limit your meat options to just baked chicken.

I eat bacon, steak, eggs, ribs, brisket, sausage, shrimp, fish, crabs, lobster, pork, and chicken for meat. My veggies include (but are not limited to) asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, celery, and more. I eat salad typically when we go to a restaurant and they offer some. That’s about it.

You don’t have to deny yourself good food or variety to eat right. That’s ludicrous. Just stay away from carbs and sugar and you’ll be well on your way to being healthier and losing weight (if that’s what you’re in for).