The Winner Mindset

No, I’m not talking about Charlie Sheen’s brand of winning. I’m talking about the mindset it takes to accomplish a goal. I am going to make an assumption, but you, the reader, has probably accomplished something great in your life. Not great as in conquering Ancient Asia or something (so I’m not talking to you, Ghengis!), but great as in graduating high school, boot camp, college, or perhaps attaining a certification, skill, or trade. You accomplished this through hard work, determination, and sticking through the tough times. There were times you wanted to give up, but you didn’t; you saw yourself through to the goal, and now your life is better for it.

Your health is no different.

So you’re overweight. Heck, might even be what you call fat. You are out of shape. You have poor-nutrition related illnesses, or they’re starting to creep into your life. If any or all of the above applies to you and you haven’t yet done anything about it, it’s not because you can’t. You already have a demonstrated ability to reach a goal. You’ve already proven to yourself that you can be a winner.

When I was a Marine, I had a hard time getting my run time down below 21 minutes for a three mile run. I have short legs, and for me to get fast, I really had to work hard. I didn’t really put in the extra effort after boot camp to get below 21 minutes until I became a Sergeant. Then, as a leader of Marines, I felt I had to push myself harder. I ran twice a day for months until I could finally break that 21 minute three-mile run. Then I broke 20 minutes. I got into the 19:40’s when we had an annual Physical Fitness Test (PFT). The PFT went well for me: I maxed my pull-ups at 20, my sit-ups at 80 in two minutes, and then we did the run. When I finished, the SgtMaj was standing there with the stop watch and called out the time as I crossed the line. He looked up at me and called me over. He told me something that transcended the PFT and has stuck with me for life: “You’ve proven to me that you can do this. I will now accept no less from you.” I didn’t just prove that I could run a sub-20 minute three mile, but that I could make my mind hard, that I could accomplish anything that I set it to. I had the winning mindset.

When I set about getting healthy last September, I adopted this mindset: I was not going to fail. I was going to give it my all. Whatever the Whole30 and Paleo lifestyles said I needed to do, I was going to do it perfectly. I was going to give them every chance to work because I needed the change in my life. Lo and behold, they both worked exactly as promised, and here I am, over 101.5 lbs less in ten months.

You’ve already proven to yourself that you can set your mind to a task and see it through completion. You know what the concept of delayed gratification is about, and you’ve experienced it. You know how to set a goal and do what it takes to get there. The last remaining ingredient in your recipe for success is to make the decision to start and just do it. There’s no time like now. Make the decision, commit, and do the work. You know you can do this. I know you can do this.

Paleo Vegetarians?

I was asked by a friend if it’s possible to be Paleo and vegetarian. They were curious because everything they’ve seen or have been told about Paleo involves eating lots of bacon and meat. While my diet is Paleo and includes meat, there are many who have adopted a Paleo Vegetarian lifestyle successfully.

What makes being a Paleo Vegetarian so difficult? As Matt Frazier from nomeatathlete.com puts it:

What’s not allowed: All grains, including wheat, rice, barley, oats, rye, and corn; grain-like seeds, including quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat; all legumes, including beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, and soy; starchy tubers such as potatoes; dairy, alcohol, most sugars except in fruit.

I’m not going to go into the detailed reasons for what’s allowed and what isn’t.  The basic explanation: Pre-agricultural man (and woman) ate a lot of the staple foods, and had very limited or no access to the disallowed foods.

The page is well written, informative, and I think overall the entire site is a really good resource for vegetarian-specific Paleo information and recipes. I recommend visiting this site for anyone interested in the Paleo lifestyle and is currently or considering becoming vegetarian.

Eat Right.

Eat right. Period.

Eat good food + don’t sit all day = be healthy.

It’s that simple.

Notice, I’m not saying eat Paleo. I’m not saying go Whole30. I’m not saying become a vegetarian. I’m not saying become a gym rat. Just eat good food and don’t sit all day.

I am a Whole30 and Paleo evangelist, but I’m not myopic when it comes to nutrition and good health. I know and understand that we all have different bodies, and those different bodies have different nutritional needs. Where my body reacts negatively to grains and sugar, there are those who thrive on grains and whose bodies react negatively to meats. I know people who have tried Paleo and didn’t have the same results as me or the many others who have gotten healthy because their bodies don’t run at peak performance on the foods in the Paleo diet.

My blog is called PaleoMarine. I do Paleo. I’ve lost 104+ lbs in ten months and I’m healthier than I’ve been in over a decade. Paleo works for me. However, I know it won’t work for everyone. So, find what does. Don’t give up. If Paleo isn’t for you, then find what is.

I can tell you what won’t work: pre-processed foods, foods with added-sugar, and unbridled eating. Portion control is a farce unless you have Jedi-level dedication. Pills, patches, supplements, powders, etc are all not enough to get you to good health. It all starts with the food you put into your body.

Find your diet and stick to it. Stop eating trash. Remember the one smart thing they taught you in school about nutrition: you are what you eat.

Excuses for Skipping Paleo

I read an article by Joanna Davis in New Zealand about how her devotion to the Paleo Lifestyle was undone by a donut. I can see going easier on the lifestyle once I get to my goal weight, but on my way down to it, I don’t even allow that as an option. Her reasons are her own, and while I am not so tempted, I can see how some foods are such a draw for some people.

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My Paleo dinner Sunday night: Lobster tails, asparagus with bacon, and melted butter.

What’s crazy are the comments. It only verified for me what I believe most people are thinking when reading about the Paleo Lifestyle when they haven’t really considered it. Many people talk about how “Limiting” Paleo is. While it’s true that we exclude grains, legumes, and dairy, it’s amazing how many other foods there are that we eat normally that exclude these foods. Some people try to argue that eliminating “Food groups” is bad for us, but this is based on more of the flawed science and bad education we received back in the 60’s, 70′, and 80’s. The food pyramid and 4-4-3-2 has all been proven to be bunk.

There are those who say they just can’t give up certain foods like pasta, bread, or rice and beans. There are so many delicious options to replace those things out there, but people are closed-minded and won’t even try them. No, they won’t be 100% replacements (spaghetti squash doesn’t taste like pasta!), but they are good, wholesome replacements and better for our bodies.

Some people mentioned the fact that “Cavemen never made bread with almond flour.” Of course they didn’t! But almonds are far healthier for us than grains, so if you really want some bread, why not use an ingredient that is far healthier for us?

“Cavemen didn’t live long. We stopped eating the caveman diet when we started building huts.” This is so untrue it’s funny. People ate what we call the Paleo diet, for the most part, until modern times. We ate lots of meats and vegetables with some exceptions depending on geography. Most American dinners before the 1920’s was meat, potatoes, and a slice of bread. Most meals in Western civilization center around meat and vegetables. Sure, some grains are there in places like Italy (bread, pasta), France (bread) and Asia (rice), but with few exceptions, the grains are not the primary source of nutrition. Only in the 20th century has sugar and grains become such a large part of our diet.

What this all tells me is that people will do anything and say anything to convince themselves that cutting sugar and carbs from their diet is a good thing. They will find any reason they can to allow them to eat bad foods with a clear conscience. Humans are funny that way.

I have a friend who is as fit as fit can be. He eats fried chicken and Jimmy John’s sandwiches on the Saturdays that I see him. How does he get away with that and stay remarkably fit? He eats good, whole foods the rest of the week/month. Those Saturday sandwiches or Thursday night fried chicken meals are treats. The rest of the time, he’s not only eating well but getting exercise. He’s also at an ideal weight and in good health. I’m not quite there with either yet, so I’m still in very strict adherence mode.

Will I get to the point that Joanna Davis got to, where I loosen up my stranglehold on my food options? I can foresee myself being more like my friend in some regards, allowing myself the treat here and there, but I will never quite go off the rails and go back to eating what I used to eat before. I remember well what happens when you eat anything you want, and I never want to go back to that again. I prefer the “New Old Me.”

Glamorizing the “Dad Bod”

You’ve probably seen the “Dad Bod” meme online, whether it was on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or a blog. I’ve seen people joking about how awesome a Dad Bod is. If you don’t know what that means, the Dad Bod is defined by The Urban Dictionary as:

A guy who has kids and was once in shape and still has guns that can crush beer cans but also with a belly that says I drank those beers and I can eat 6 slices of pizza in one seating.

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Rockin’ my Dad Bod Deluxe in Hungary in 2014.

I guess I had a Dad Bod Deluxe as I had an epic belly and could eat an entire pizza in one sitting. My arms were decent (but in retrospect, they looked bigger than they really were due to the layer of fat surrounding my arms).

It’s easy to celebrate and make fun of those things we are not happy with about ourselves. It’s the easier option to make light of a situation when contemplating the effort into changing our situation is untenable due to perceived hardships. I get that. But it’s not doing us any favors.

So, you say that you feel better in your fat suit. But do you really, though? I know I used to tell people all the time that I felt fine; I was doing great! I would tell people that I knew how to lose weight, and that one of these days, I’d just do it, but that day hadn’t come yet. I was coming up with every excuse in the book to avoid the unsavory truth that I was unhealthy and that I was leading a lifestyle that wasn’t sustainable or conducive to living a long life. I would poke fun at my “Buddha belly” and tell people to rub it for good luck.

Whatever it took for me to look past the real problem of my lifestyle, I would do it or say it. The problem was, eventually, I realized that I was lying to myself and actually killing myself in doing so.

Something’s gotta give

At some point, we reach a breaking point. Whether it’s the marathon runner who hits the wall or someone pulling an all-nighter studying for tests reaches the point where they pass out. I finally reached that point one day in July last year after my 48th birthday. I stood in the shower and looked into the mirror. I didn’t like what I saw. More to the point, I was horrified. I had become something I never wanted to be: obese. I stared at my stomach, and felt empty inside. There was no rationale nor joke that could make this okay. I had to do something drastic and immediate.

Eventually, I found Whole30 and Paleo and have lost over 101.5 lbs in ten months and I am no longer obese. I still have a ways to go (another 23 lbs or so) until I reach my final goal, but at least when I look in the mirror, I like what I see. I’ve made astounding progress in less than a year, and I did so while eating well and enjoying all the foods along the way. There are some behavioral issues I still contend with, but I’m learning every day about dealing with them and conquering them.

I have a sense of humor when it comes to all things. Sherry knows that I’m really sick or something is very wrong when I lose my sense of humor. It’s a great defense mechanism and keeps our ability to persevere intact. When I stopped joking about my weight, Sherry knew that there was a real problem. We need to be aware that sometimes, our automatic defense mechanism is doing us harm, especially when making light of our unhealthy lifestyles or heavy weight. At some point, we need to drop the humor and get serious and do what it takes to get healthy. Our lives literally depend on it.

As for daily status, I lost another .9 lbs last night! The last plateau was a long one, but it looks like the ledge after it is a steep one. I’ll take it!

Current stats:
Weight: 185.8 lbs (Started 289.9 lbs on 9/1/15)
Body fat: 19.7% (Started 47% on 9/1/15)
BMI: 29.2 (Started 45.4 on 9/1/15)

Keeping your chin up when your rate of weight loss is down

File_000 (12)Seeing others making progress while not making any yourself is tough and can be discouraging. I know, because from time to time, I watch Sherry lose weight while mine stays the same or even goes up. Then, it’s the opposite; I lose weight while Sherry stays the same. It’s much more fun being on the losing weight side of the equation, but what do you do when you watch someone else do exactly the same thing you’re doing yet they are finding success while you’re floundering?

Here are two things to consider. First is the fact that weight is only one measure of success in getting healthy. While I haven’t lost much weight in the past week, I’ve lost about an inch off my waist. My shirts fit better, and I’m having to consider new pants. Second, even if you are not losing weight or losing size, your body is reconfiguring itself and you are making progress toward getting healthy. You won’t stay stalled forever and eventually, your body will let go of the fat and you will lose size.

I keep my chin up by reminding myself of any of a number of successes:

  • I’ve lost weight
  • I’m making progress
  • I’ve adopted a healthier lifestyle
  • I’m actively taking control of my eating habits
  • I’m making good choices in which foods I put into my body
  • I’m wearing smaller clothing
  • I’ve donated a bunch of clothing to charity
  • I’ve helped others get healthy and to lose weight
  • I’ve never gone off the Lifestyle for more than a single meal at a holiday or party
  • When I do eat off-plan, I get right back on at the very next meal
  • I’ve not had alcohol but three times in the past ten months
  • I don’t snack
  • I don’t eat desserts
  • I don’t eat foods that hurt my body or my health

Some of these are redundant, but as I find more and more reasons to celebrate, it takes my mind off the negatives and the deflated feeling I get when I see the same weight day after day.

As luck would have it, I lost 2.5 lbs since yesterday’s weigh in. That’s after about a week of not losing weight, and accounts for nearly half of my weight loss in the past 30 days. This made me exceptionally happy this morning. I can also feel a difference in my pants; I had to close my belt one hole tighter.

The last point I would add to the things I remind myself is that there will be a day when I get to celebrate and be happy about my weight loss. If I lost weight every day without effort, the days I do lose weight would become commonplace and wouldn’t be special. It’s kind of nice to have those success days. It’s nice to feel a sense of accomplishment.

Current stats:
Weight: 186.7 lbs (Started 289.9 lbs on 9/1/15)
Body fat: 19.7% (Started 47% on 9/1/15)
BMI: 29.3 (Started 45.4 on 9/1/15)

The number of drops of rain needed to cause a flood

rainy.pngI know there’s got to be fatigue on my Facebook page for people who see my posting daily about Paleo, Whole30, and my weight loss. This is a little harsh, but it’s true. I used to feel this way when I saw posts others made about health, fitness, or nutrition: It’s a constant reminder to those who rare not doing something that they know deep down inside that they need to do. It’s a feeling we would rather avoid, so we keep scrolling (or worse, they unfollow me). I know this feeling of fatigue well: that used to be me.

I remember reading posts on Facebook from people who were losing weight or exercising. I would try to be supportive and “Like” their posts, but every time I did that, it was a reminder to me that these people were doing something I was refusing to admit to myself that I needed as well: cleaner living. Healthier living.

Seeing these posts or reading their posts didn’t do anything to make me want to diet or exercise. If anything, it strengthened my resolve to stick with my unhealthy lifestyle. I remember once while reading a post someone made about eating healthy, I had a Taco Bell burrito in my hand. I raised my burrito as if making a toast and said, “Well, you can have that horrible food while I eat this!” and I took a huge bite and savored it. Better to mock them than to join them.

What can someone say to those who really need to do something to save their own life? That’s the million dollar question. Heck, maybe even the billion dollar question. If I had the answer, I could solve the obesity epidemic our society is currently experiencing. Some people think legislation is the way to go: make it illegal to drink from a 20 oz soda cup. I think this is misguided. Further legislation aims to eliminate soda from school cafeterias. This is a good start, but kids still bring their own lunches and will bring their own junk food and sodas.

Doctors tell their patients all the time that they need to lose weight or risk their health or even their longevity, yet people leave the doctor’s office with nary a thought to really making a change. Most people will only do something when faced with imminent mortality. By then, it’s mostly too late and the damage to our bodies is done and irreparable. That’s what I’m trying to avoid, and that’s what I’m hoping to help others avoid.

As of last Wednesday, I’ve lost over 100 lbs in ten months, and over 120 lbs overall. It’s a huge accomplishment that I’m proud of, and one that took a lot of mental hard work, but it was doable and in retrospect, it feels magical. Magical in the sense that I didn’t suffer along the way. Well, not eating pasta and bread may be considered a special kind of suffering, but hunger and pain were not two things I suffered or suffer from. Sure, I get hungry at mealtime, but I don’t get the crazy cravings anymore. That freedom has really allowed me to stick with it.

Nothing I write will make you change your lifestyle and adopt a Paleo lifestyle. Nothing I can say will convince you. I know that. What I also know is that just by being here, by putting myself and photos of myself out there is helping people. I hear it daily. That’s why I do it. That’s why I post progress pictures, pictures of the fat me, and pictures of the new me. It’s why I write some of my innermost thoughts, fears, and challenges: because I want you to know that I’m going through it all myself, and that you’re not alone. There are others out there who are in your shoes that have made a difference, and you can do it, too!

No single post makes a difference, but each post I make is like a drop of rain. After enough of those drops, we get accumulation and eventually a flood. I’m hoping to be that flood that wipes away your bad eating habits and ushers in a healthy lifestyle for you which, in turn, means a longer and healthier life.