Sugar Crash

sugarcrashSugar Crash is the name of a documentary made in Ireland, and I recommend you watch it. You will learn about how not only the US, but even Ireland is having problems with obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, fatty liver, mood, memory, and a host of other health issues all caused by sugar.

People say they don’t want give up carbs or sugar because it’s a “Natural food and why give up a balanced diet?” It’s horrible for the body, and this documentary does a great job of showing that, sometimes graphically.

This link will take you to the video on YouTube, but if the link expires, please do yourself a favor and find this documentary. Watch it, and learn. Then, come back and learn about cutting carbs out of your diet to improve your health.

Holiday Weekends

Holiday weekends are filled with mixed emotions for Sherry and I. On the one hand, we’re excited and happy to be with family and friends celebrating the holiday. On the other hand, there’s the stress from knowing we will be presented with lots of food, many of which are not Paleo, that we will eat due to the social situation we find ourselves in. We try our best to be compliant with our eating plan, but at the same time, we’re concerned with being good guests and being polite, which means sampling the yummy foods our friends go out of their way to make for us.

This past weekend was filled with three days of eating. The first day was at Paleo f(x), and our thinking was that we can try everything there because it’s good for us, right? This turned out to be true as the next morning, I was at my lowest weight ever. It was a great reminder that if you put good, whole foods in, your body will deal with it. The next two days, however, saw Sherry and I eat a lot more food than we normally would have which included a lot of fruit. I’ve been eating a very low-carb/sugar diet, and that also means I’ve really eliminated almost every source of sugars like fruits. Eating as much watermelon as I did this weekend wreaked havoc on my weight loss. “But it’s natural sugar, so it’s good for you, right?” Sugar is sugar. There are better sugars, yes, but the peaches and watermelon I ate this weekend really added up on the carb count and my body told me this morning that I went a little nuts with the sugar. I was up over 2 lbs! While that may not sound like much, when that’s over a week’s worth of progress to lose, that’s a huge step back!

So, I’m back 100% on-plan today, although Sherry did pack some of the yummy watermelon salad into my lunch box that I ate. I’m not sure how my body will handle it, but at this point, I’m eating my normal portions and eating all Paleo foods. I’m going to take a long walk after work today, and hopefully lose some of the weight I put on this weekend.

In the end, I’m not concerned or worried or even depressed. I know that these fluctuations are bound to happen, especially now that I’m getting close to my goal. The important part is that I stick with it, keep my chin up, don’t let the temporary increase get me down or discourage me, and carry on. At no point did I just go nuts and have any non-Paleo foods. I just ate more than normal, and more carb-rich foods than normal. I know what to do to make more progress; now I just have to do it.

The Dirt Cacao Mint Toothpaste

At Paleo f(x) this year, Sherry and I visited many of the vendor booths (as many as we could!) and while we didn’t expect it, we found a great new toothpaste that I hadn’t seen anywhere else.

I have seen The Dirt original toothpaste which is like a powder, but I hadn’t ever tried it. I didn’t know anything about it, nor did I take the time to learn more. While at the vendor booth, however, I was told about the product, how it came to be, and how it works. On their website, founder Shannon Puma Drake had this to say:

Using the principals of the paleo lifestyle; a ‘whole foods’ life style based on clean eating and high nutrients I drew inspiration from my passion for studying traditional beauty secrets from around the world to craft high quality, beautiful and natural products for women, men and kids too.

What I thought was cool was that The Dirt had toothbrushes to actually try their products. Since I literally just ran out of my Tom’s of Maine toothpaste that morning, I decided to give The Dirt a try since I needed to buy some toothpaste anyway. Enter their MCT Oil Toothpaste.

thedirtWhile their Dirt product is the one that started it all for them, a tooth cleaning powder, I opted to try the MCT Oil toothpaste. The flavor (Cacao Mint) and the form factor (a tube of toothpaste) was more to my liking and seemed to be an easy transition for me from my favorite, Tom’s of Maine. I put on a pea-sized dollop onto a wet toothbrush and almost immediately, I knew this was my new toothpaste. The flavor isn’t overwhelming, nor is it something you taste immediately. It takes a little bit of brushing to release the flavor, but as soon as it does, it’s nice, smooth, and tasty. The best part, for me however, was how my mouth and teeth felt after brushing: minty clean without the sick sweetness of regular toothpastes (Tom’s excluded) or the weird chemicals (why would they put polyethylene in a product to be used in our mouths!). My mouth felt clean, and honestly, probably the freshest I’ve ever experienced. I was sold. I had to buy some, so I bought two tubes.

So, you are probably wondering what MCT is. From the Made Man website, here’s a nice definition:

MCTs are medium chain triglycerides. Triglycerides are also referred to as fatty acids. There are medium and long chain fatty acids. Chain length references the number of carbons chained together in a fatty acid. The medium chain variety consists of 6 to 12 carbons.  There are four MCTs: Caproic Acid (C6), Caprylic Acid (C8), Capric Acid (C10) and Lauric Acid (C12).  And our friend coconut oil happens to be the richest natural source of MCTs.

Is there a down side to this product? Well, I will say that the MCT Oil can get pretty solid with all the “dirt” in it, so it can be hard to squeeze out of the tube. This isn’t all bad: it keeps me from putting too much on my toothbrush at one time. I’m wondering if I should have tried their original Dirt instead, but when I get close to running out of my second tube, I’ll buy the original and try it out.

Is it worth trying? I think so. If you’re concerned about the chemicals modern hygiene products contain, the food you put into your mouth, or are just looking for a natural toothpaste that leaves your mouth feeling clean and fresh, then yes, you should buy some. If you don’t like those things, then skip this advice. But seriously, I think you’d be happy with this product.

You can buy The Dirt MCT Oil Tootpaste on Amazon or from The Dirt website.

PaleoFX and Upcoming Product Reviews

Sherry and I at PaleoFX 2016.

Sherry and I had the pleasure of going to the 2016 PaleoFX convention/show/gathering and we had a great time. We were able to meet a bunch of really neat people, try a bunch of Paleo products, and find others who are into the same lifestyle as we are. Rarely do you get to be in an environment where you’re not the weird one for eating the way you do. PaleoFX was great! Everything at the vendor booths was edible for us, and we tried lots and lots of stuff (much to the chagrin of the scale!).

This week, I’ll be reviewing some of my favorite products that I found at the show. I did not receive any of the products I will be reviewing for free; I paid for everything. This is after trying products, and deciding that I wanted to have a longer-term trial by buying and having at home.

Most of the products will be foods while a few will be hygiene or drinks.

Sherry and I didn’t watch any of the panels. It was pretty loud in there, and the way they were doing panels was a seating area in the corner of the Palmer Convention Center in Austin. It’s nice, but Sherry and I decided to focus on the products and booths. The panels, while interesting, didn’t appear to present any new information to either of us based on the schedule and descriptions. We’ve been reading so much about Paleo that, at this point, unless they’re talking about advanced science or new discoveries, we’ve probably seen it, read it, or heard it. No, we’re not experts, but we’re well-read.

We will likely attend again next year. It was a good time, and meeting the founders/owners of many of the vendors was a great experience. These people have such passion for their products, and it was neat to experience that.


Get Back On That Horse

Trigger warning: this article may trigger cravings in some who are still new to Paleo or are in their first Whole30. If you are one of these people, you might want to skip this article.

If you do a Google search for “The most awesome picture ever,” this is the first result.

Sometimes, after eating well for the first time for a few weeks, or even a month or so, we long for the unbridled and unrestricted eating patterns we used to be in. It’s only natural; when we didn’t really concern ourselves with the quality of the food we were eating, we just crammed anything that we found delicious into our mouths. When we didn’t concern ourselves with the amount of calories, we ate as much as we wanted to. When we didn’t consider the effect that these foods had on our health, it was easy to just eat, eat, and eat some more.

But a crazy thing happens when you do start considering these things and become concerned with the quality of your food and its effect on your health; you change what you eat and you start watching what you eat. However, you might also begin to miss all these delicious foods you used to be able to eat with wanton abandon. What’s worse is that most of these foods probably had carbs or sugar in them, and as such, the cravings you have for them are as strong as (and science suggests it could even be stronger) than a drug addiction. You want that pizza, pasta, chocolate cake, milk shake, or peanut butter cup. You want it so bad you start fixating on it, even considering the “small hit” it will make in your new eating plan and any progress you’ve made so far. You start to justify the “cheat,” begin to make excuses, even commiserate with others who are also eating well and getting them to agree with you that, “A little cheat here and there won’t hurt anything.”

And then it happens; you go off-plan and eat some pizza. Or fried food. Or dessert.

As a reward for this cheating, your stomach rebels by giving you horrible pain. Your body feels sluggish, the energy you’ve been feeling lately is suddenly sapped. Then the guilt kicks in. You feel horrible, both physically and emotionally. You let yourself down, and this depression could lead to more bad food decisions. Many people cite this point as the departure from their healthy eating plan. This is where most people fail; the proverbial fall off the wagon.

Do you know what I have to say about that?

WHO CARES. You went off-plan. It happens. It’s not the end of the world. It won’t kill you, and it won’t stop you.

What do you do next? Just get back on that horse at the very next meal. Don’t just give up for the day or the weekend or the rest of the week. So you slipped and had a pint of ice cream? After you get off the toilet, make your very next meal a good one that’s back on-plan. Yes, it’s that easy. You can do it. You’ve been doing it for countless weeks or month(s) already, so it’s not a foreign concept. Just get back on that horse.

I know; the foods you’re not supposed to eat anymore are delicious and you miss them. I won’t argue that point. However, you have to accept the concept that it’s short-term gratification with no real benefit to you. Besides, with so many good Paleo alternatives out there, you can eat good, delicious, and healthy foods without the negative effects and emotional baggage. It just takes some self-control, discipline, and motivation.

Get back on that horse.

You’ve got this.

It has to taste good

I wrote briefly about the importance of food being delicious to be able to commit to a new lifestyle of eating. It’s something I mention here and there in passing, but yet have I dedicated an entire article to the subject. That changes today.

I traveled to Boston this past weekend to visit my second cousin who had a heart attack and subsequently had surgery to perform a quadruple bypass. His condition was brought about partly due to genetics but also partly due to his health. While he is not an unhealthy person, his diet tends to be high in carbs. When I arrived in Boston, he was already recovering from his surgery, and we had a chance to sit and talk for nearly two full days. It was glorious! I love my cousin, and we always have a great time just talking together. The subject of our conversation eventually turned to my recent weight loss, and he had many questions about how I succeeded. He wanted to know “The secret” to my success. I was more than happy to oblige him.

I told him about going through the Whole30 and then turning to Paleo, and then I went through the science of it all. None of it was really new to him, but he had one concern that I knew a lot about. It was the major concern I had when we entered this new lifestyle, and one that I could address with some truly positive news.

As Hungarians, our culture, like the vast majority, centers on its food. Hungarian food is varied and delicious, with quite a few unique dishes that are quite simply among the most delicious foods one can eat. I don’t say this as a Hungarian, but as a fan of delicious food everywhere. French, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Filipino, and South American cuisines are all delicious, but Hungarian food, in my humble opinion, ranks with the best of these with amazing and delicate flavors and textures. This brings me to his major concern: how can someone accustomed to delicious foods give them up to eat healthy?

I was happy to give him the good news: you don’t have to. Not only has the majority of the foods Sherry found for us to eat been delicious and filling, but I have even found Hungarian alternatives that are Paleo compliant that are just as delicious with the same flavors and textures as their non-Paleo counterparts. This really caught his attention, and I could see that for the first time, eating healthy was something he was beginning to consider. I made sure to let him know that I don’t live on salads and chicken breasts alone, as a diet like that would drive me to chocolate cake and fried chicken faster than you can say, “Diabetes.” For people accustomed to eating delicious foods for over 60 years, giving it up in the name of good health can be too much to ask. Because yes, the flavor of our food is that important.

A neighbor three houses down from me, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, asked me one day as I walked to the mailbox how I had lost all my weight. He was expected to hear I accomplished this great feat through serious exercise and a strict diet. He lamented the fact that he could never do what I did because he is unable to exercise due to physical limitations. When I told him I lost all my weight with diet alone, and that the foods I ate were delicious and filling, he became very interested and excited. We ended up talking for over an hour on his driveway with his wife eventually joining us to take notes and to ask questions of her own. When I bid them farewell that evening a month ago, I had sincerely hoped that he would at least try. If he did, I was certain he would find success.

And he did!

I was again going to get the mail last night, and I ran into his wife who was out for her evening walk. She excitedly told me that her husband not only tried Paleo, but had lost 15 lbs in his first month and is loving the food and feeling much better! She said he is exceptionally fond of his bacon in the mornings, and that he has cut out all sweetened drinks and sodas and now only drinks water and iced tea with no sweeteners. She said that while he misses corn, he’s been enjoying the other foods so much that it hasn’t been too big of a concern. Besides, I told her that a little corn every few weeks won’t derail him. As we hear a lot around Paleo circles, every now and then, you gotta live. Treats, in strict moderation, are allowable. Just don’t make them regular.

These conversations weren’t unique to these two individuals; it’s literally the same primary concern EVERY SINGLE PERSON I’ve ever spoken to about Paleo has had: is the food delicious? Fortunately, I can say that yes, there is delicious Paleo food out there! Are there Paleo foods that are not delicious? Well, taste is subjective, so something I find amazing my not be to someone else’s liking and vice-versa, but the beauty of Paleo is that there are literally hundreds of thousands of recipes available that allow one to truly customize their menu to their tastes. My wife has done a great job in posting recipes that we have tested and thoroughly enjoy for the benefit of others looking for delicious and healthy foods that are Paleo or Primal compliant.

As I said in an early article, regardless of the path you are taking to get healthy and/or lose weight, food is going to be a primary concern. The quality and satiety of the fuel you put into your body will directly affect the results you see on the scales, in the gym, or in your belt. It will also affect how you feel and how often you have cravings or get hungry. It’s not enough to eat “Good” foods; they also have to be foods that taste good that you can enjoy and that make you feel full afterward. Your path will be much easier when you’re happy with the meals you eat. Trust me on this one.

Current stats:
Weight: 198.9 lbs (Started 289.9 lbs on 9/1/15)
Body fat: 21.8% (Started 47% on 9/1/15)
BMI: 31.1 (Started 45.4 on 9/1/15)

Just do you

Getting healthy and losing weight is a journey more than a destination. It’s a journey that ends only when we do, and the better we handle that journey, the longer it lasts. The beauty of the journey is that there are many routes, and it’s up to us to decide which route is best for us. It’s also important for us to not be sidetracked by false promises of an easier route or a shortcut.

I’ve mentioned time and time again that I’m not a fan of the rigorous workout route. It’s just not me. I don’t enjoy it, I don’t feel good doing it, and I don’t get that sense of accomplishment some people do. While I do exercise for overall health, I’m never doing it because I like it. Therefore, my exercise plan is one of necessity and it is what I would consider a bare minimums exercise plan. However, I know people who LOVE exercise, working out, challenging themselves, and pushing themselves to their physical and psychological limits. AND THAT’S COOL! I wish I were one of these people, but I’m not. With that said, I don’t look down on these people; rather, I look at them with respect, awe, and wonder. They are doing something I cannot and will not attempt.

There are those who are all about following fads and trends to keep themselves interested in weight loss and better health. They follow the blogs, magazines, and news for trends in weight loss, looking for anything that will give them an edge. Again, I’m fine with this. As long as they are staying healthy and monitoring the effects of the diet or plan they’re on, both physical and psychological, then I’m cool with it. Some think of Paleo as a fad or a recycled Atkins Diet, and while there are similarities (cutting back on carbs), there are much greater differences in execution. The point is this: if what you’re doing helps you lose weight in a healthy way that has no negative impacts on your quality of life, DO IT!

There is the path I’ve taken which is to adopt a scientific and common-sense approach to foods. Based on research and a lot of empirical data as well as successes achieved by people very close to me, I chose to do a Whole30 and then go Paleo (and Keto from time to time). I spoke with medical staff, nutritionists, and lots of people who have done both, and after doing months of research, I decided that it was the way to go for me. I understand that it may not be the way for everyone else. I get it. But I can’t argue with the successes I have experienced and keep achieving. It’s why I recommend Whole30 and Paleo so strongly.

The people I worry about are those who are looking for shortcuts and engaging in risky diets or weight loss plans. It’s only human for us to find the easiest way to do something, but when it comes to your life, the last thing you should be doing is finding shortcuts. Efficiency is one thing, but trying to circumvent natural processes and time is another. I’ve known people to jump on the latest bandwagon only to find that not only did it not work as advertised, but they spent a lot of money to get no results or even take steps back in their health or even death. An example of this was Fen-Phen.

All I ask is that whatever it is that you do, be safe. Make sure it’s healthy. Whatever your program is, do a Google search on the name of the program and add “review” and read unbiased scientific reviews. If I were to invent a program called “JarheadEdge Diet Plan,” then you’d search on JarheadEdge Diet Plan review. Be very critical of any path you choose to follow and weight the evidence for veracity and bias. Once you identify a plan that’s right for you, DO IT AND DON’T LOOK BACK!!!