Around the World, Paleo Style

Sherry really went all-out and is taking us around the world with her amazing food-prep for the week!

Our Daily Bacon

This weekend was another busy one – E.J. and I visited my alma mater, and walked around the Texas A&M campus all day yesterday before attending the Aggie game vs. New Mexico State.  It was a great day, and while our food options were definitely limited while on campus, we still managed to stay mostly Paleo and didn’t have any adverse effects from our choices (always a bonus).

So today was back to the Paleo prep routine, and I decided to go international with my selections for the week.

img_2071First, I started with some old favorites.  The Paleo TexMex Casserole from Popular Paleo isn’t exactly Mexican fare, but it’s got some lovely southwestern flavors, thanks to the sugar & corn-free taco seasoning, and is one of our earliest successes in the kitchen.

Then I went for another favorite (E.J. and Brendon both love this one) with some classic Indian flavors…

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The Ghosts of Halloween Past vs Halloween Present

This year was my first Halloween weighing less than 200 lbs since I was on active duty. My wife and I have been hosting Halloween parties for our friends for 14 years, and I was looking through some pictures the other day and found a few that really highlighted how far I’d let my weight soar.

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2010: I was Wilford Brimley. I even shaved my skull a bit and dyed my hair gray.

Two years ago, my wife and I were characters from the video game Diablo III. We took a photo in which I thought we both looked pretty good (except for my skull cap: Sherry wouldn’t let me shave my head for the party). I still think we looked great! But then this year, as vampires, I think Sherry and I really hit it out of the park!

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Halloween 2014 vs Halloween 2016.

We always have fun at our Halloween parties, and I don’t regret any of the costumes or looks we put together. I am happy that I can now do more, and I think I look better now, too.

I find I eat and drink a lot less at the parties now for a few reasons. First, as hosts, it’s important for us to be able to perform our duties such as greeting, introducing, and feeding. Second, even though the majority of the food we serve is Paleo-friendly, neither of us wants to over-eat. It makes us feel physically bad to eat too much now.

Paleo has changed a lot of things in our lives for the better. Who knew Halloween could be one of those things?

Fast Food Funny

Last night, Sherry called me and said that we have a lot of sides pre-prepared in the refrigerator, but no main dishes. She asked me for suggestions on what she could pick up to make that we could eat and I suggested picking up some chicken at El Pollo Loco. She said, “Hey, that’s not a bad idea. We haven’t had that in a while.” When she got home, she told me that it was the first time she had gone through a drive through since we started our Whole30 last September. She said she almost didn’t remember what to do, where to go, and her driving skills inside the thin lane were out of practice.

I didn’t realize it, but it’s been over a year since I myself have gone through a drive-through. Everything we’ve eaten has either been prepared by us or at a sit-down restaurant and Paleo-compliant. I guess that’s why today I was called a “Skinny guy” but a group of gentlemen. I felt proud and happy. It’s been a long time since I’ve been called that.

Mostly good vs All-in and Weight Loss

There are varying degrees of adopting a lifestyle. Some are mostly good, which is better than not at all, while others go scorched earth and follow the book to the letter. I don’t judge: I feel it’s better to be mostly good than not good at all.

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Our grocery cart on an average Sunday.

Being all-in means sticking with Paleo and not allowing non-Paleo foods into the diet. Now, with that said, I can’t say Sherry and I are 100% Paleo. We use butter instead of ghee, and we sometimes allow cheese on our salads or in some foods (although I always pay the price with my digestion tract!). Otherwise, we’re pretty strict. We have found a balance that works for us and keeps us where we want and making the progress we want to make.

I don’t have the answer for everyone’s weight loss plans. I had the answer for me, and with some luck, the same will apply to you. However, the one thing I’m certain about is that if you don’t do anything, nothing will change. You have to do something to lose weight and get healthy. Find your path and take the steps to make it a life-long journey. Just don’t be taken in by the marketing that tries to sell you on products that claim to make it easier. They don’t. There are only two things that will make you lose weight: diet and exercise. In my opinion, anyone who says they can’t lose it through those two things aren’t all-in and are likely eating foods that don’t promote good health. There is no such thing as eating healthy if that includes grains, soy, sugar, or dairy. Those foods have been proven to be harmful to us, and using the flawed nutrition information from the 70’s-90’s does more harm than good.

Stick to the following as closely as you can and you will do well:

  1. No grains
  2. No dairy
  3. No soy
  4. No Sugar
  5. No pre-processed foods

Eat meat and veggies with a smattering of fruit and you will be surprised at how well your body will respond.

Discipline and Cravings

File_000 (24)Sometimes, regardless of how well you eat, you get a craving or you feel your stomach grumble. Some of us can ignore it but some of us cannot. For those who can’t (or for those times when it really gets too much to ignore), here are some tricks to help you get past the cravings.

Water

Sometimes when you feel like you’re hungry, you’re actually thirsty. Drink a glass of water and afterward ask yourself if you’re still hungry. Chances are you won’t be.

Nuts

Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, etc are a good snack to eat when you feel hungry. Take a small handful and eat them one-by-one. Be careful, though; nuts are very calorie dense and you don’t want to overdo it.

Carrots and celery

Two vegetables that are mostly fiber and water. I personally don’t find these very filling, but some people use them to stave off hunger for a bit until they can eat a regular meal.

Jerky or slice of bacon

Protein works really well for me to stave off hunger. A piece of jerky or a slice of bacon does nicely for me to hold off hunger until a meal.

Reading

I find that if I can take my mind off the hunger by reading, even if it’s just browsing Facebook or reading a blog, I will lose the craving.

Computer games (or board games)

Gaming keeps my mind off eating. I find that if I’m hungry, sitting down and playing a game, putting together a puzzle, or even doing a crossword will take my mind off the food and let me get through a tough spot.

As you get away from sugar, you will experience fewer cravings, but the reality is that from time to time, as we vary the foods we eat, some will be less satisfying than others. In those instances, you have to do something to get past the cravings which can derail your process and cause a sabotage moment. I hope these strategies can help you get past the craving and make it to your next meal without eating something bad for you.

Paleo: It’s Not Just for Weight Loss

It’s no secret that my weight loss success started with Whole30 and has been due in large part to adopting the Paleo lifestyle with my wife, Sherry. However some people have mistakenly equated Paleo with Adkins. They both are low-carb, but Paleo has a few distinct differences.

  1. No grains. No rice, no pasta, no bread, no breakfast cereals, no corn, no quinoa, no oatmeal. Adkins allows some of these things in small quantities. In Paleo, we avoid them entirely or find non-grain alternatives.
  2. No refined sugar. Never.
  3. No dairy. We sometimes break this one, but mostly adhere to it. The exception is butter/ghee.
  4. No soy.
  5. No pre-processed foods. We make everything ourselves.

Adkins was designed as a weight-loss diet; something you do for a while, and after you lose your weight, you go back to eating as you did before (until it’s time to lose weight again). Paleo is a lifestyle that is meant to be adopted for life. It’s also not designed for weight loss; it’s a lifestyle that promotes good health through eating foods that are natural and similar to the diet humans ate for thousands of years.

Am I saying that cavemen were healthier than us? Not necessarily. Modern medicine has helped us eradicate many diseases and control maladies that would otherwise kill us. However, our bodies operate much better when eating meats and vegetables and fruits that occur naturally. Grains are very high in carbs which are easily processed and stored in the body. When we get overweight, our bodies get out of sync and health problems occur. Many of these are controlled by medicine, but why turn to medicine when all you have to do is eat right? No, eating right doesn’t solve everything, but it does help avoid a host of medical issues that are exacerbated by being overweight.

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Me and Sherry in September, 2016.

I lost over 100 lbs in a year eating Paleo foods. My wife lost 65 lbs in that same time period. I did no exercise until six weeks ago. Adopting the Paleo lifestyle has changed my life and made it better. I am fairly certain it can do the same for you!

Run, run, run

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Selfie post-run this past Monday morning at 5:30 a.m.

I took a two-day break this past weekend from running due to the many activities we had scheduled that required a lot of physical activity. I didn’t want to over-do it and risk an injury. Oddly, on Saturday evening, my legs were very tired but also uneasy. It’s as if they really wanted to run, and without running that morning, they felt like they were filled with nervous energy. On Sunday, the feeling was gone, and it actually felt nice. My legs felt like they were healing from the previous day’s heavy use (I was working in the garage building props which required a lot of squatting and up/down movement).

By Monday morning, I was ready to run. I set out with a comfortable pace and surprised myself with a second-best pace since starting six weeks ago. I also ran almost 4 miles which, while not my longest distance, was probably the longest I’ve run and felt so comfortable. Again, I could have run longer, but time was of the essence and I couldn’t spare the time to run the extra distance.

People mistakenly assume that my weight loss has been due to running. Nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, since running, I’ve only lost about 5 lbs, and even that has been very hard fought. My weight goes up from time to time, and right now I’m actually up a few pounds from my low of 177.7 lbs. I’m hoping to get back down to that weight and perhaps even lower, but it requires a lot of discipline and hard work.

I lost over 100 lbs through diet alone, and by diet, I don’t mean through a weight-loss diet. I changed the way I eat, and I have adopted the Paleo lifestyle which is not a weight-loss diet like Adkins. It’s a way of eating for the rest of my life. The fact that I ate good food in normal portion sizes has allowed my body to shed the excess weight and get down to a normal weight. Now that I want to lose another 12 lbs, I’m having to work for it in a way I haven’t done in a very long time, but it’s rewarding and I’m finding that I’m actually able to enjoy it quite a bit.

As the weather cools, I will have to wear long running pants and long-sleeved shirts, but I’m ready for it. My headset, belt (for holding my iPhone) and shoes are all set, too. Most importantly, I’m motivated to do it, and I am enjoying it. Sometimes I have to force myself to enjoy it, but I find it really helps to make it easier to run faster and to get more out of it if I’m enjoying it. “Fake it until you make it” really works. Try it!

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