Progress Update

It’s been almost 14 months since my wife and I did our first Whole30 and then went Paleo. In that time, I’ve lost a total of 112.1 lbs with a grand total of 130.7 lbs. My body fat went from over 50% to around 15%, and my BMI went from 47 to 27.9. My resting heart rate went from 72 to 52.

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I am now able to run 4+ miles daily, and I can pass an Army physical fitness test (PFT) which is important for me as I’m in the process of entering the National Guard. As a former Marine, running always played a large role in my life, and it’s nice to have it be a part of it again. It’s also helping to keep me strong and fit.

In terms of clothing sizes, I went from wearing trousers with a 48″ waist to wearing 32″. Shirts have gone from XXXL (that’s a 3XL!) to M. Shoes even went from 9’s to 8’s.

I made the vast majority of my progress through diet alone. I ate meat, vegetables, and some fruit. I didn’t allow myself to eat fast food or anything with added sugar. I only started running six weeks ago, but my body was ready for it, and I’ve been making great progress. My pace is up, distances greater, and I feel great while running. I actually look forward to the runs now; something I’ve never been able to do.

I feel like a new person. I never knew I could feel so vital, so young again. I can’t imagine ever going back to how I used to feel: slow, sluggish, and old. I put on a happy face, but inside, I was always sad about my weight and health. My outlook now is greatly improved, and I feel able to do so much more, so much more easily.

As of this morning, I weigh 177.7 lbs. That’s just 2.7 lbs from my penultimate goal, and 12.7 lbs from my final goal. It’s taking longer to reach this goal than I thought, but I’m okay with it. I wear smaller clothes that I can actually buy off the rack, and I feel great. All of this would not have been possible without my amazing wife Sherry at my side and helping me at every step of the way.

What Motivates You?

We all have our own reasons for wanting to lose weight, get fit, or just eat healthy. That reason is what determines how far you will go to accomplish your goals, or how hard you will work to reach those goals. For me, it was about a few things.

Health

My health was deteriorating. It wasn’t bad yet, but the signs were all there, and they were clear: if I kept up being heavy and eating anything and everything, it would all catch up with me and make my life miserable and short. I didn’t want that. If there was anything I could do to stop it, I would do it.

Mobility

I wasn’t able to do the things I used to enjoy doing: biking, walking, hiking, or exploring in new places. I like having adventures with my wife, and a big part of that is walking, hiking, or being able to meet weight requirements for things like hang gliding, zip lining, etc.

Military

Not many people are aware of this because I haven’t posted much about it, but I’m currently in the process of re-entering the military. As a former Marine with 11 years of active duty service, I will be returning to the military; this time, into the National Guard. Yes, they still take crusty ol’ warriors like me as long as I can complete 20 years of service prior to my 60th birthday (which I will be able to do). My goal is to make the other soldiers wonder why they are having a hard time keeping up with such an old man!

Wife and Children

I love my wife, and I love my kids. I want to be with them as long as I can. I hope to meet my future grandchildren some day (not yet, though!). I want to be able to annoy and molest my wife for a long time and to spoil my grandchildren and send them home with loud and messy toys. None of this looked like a possibility just a year ago.

Those four things mean more to me than the short-term gratification of eating a pizza, some spaghetti, or drinking a rum and Coke. Those other things are delicious, but nothing is as delicious to me as knowing that my health is no longer being negatively impacted by the food I eat. I’m also getting a  lot more exercise now, which is helping me with my general health and fitness.

Find your motivators and cling to them. Use them to your advantage. When you are presented with tempting food or in a situation where you feel weak, think of your motivators. If they are as important to you as you think they are, they will make it easier for you to say no to the temptation or to make the right decisions when eating. They may even get you up off the couch and onto the sidewalk.

Take your time

file_000-22All of us who reach the point where we want to make a change in our lives to get healthy and/or fit want those changes to happen immediately. I know; I wanted this to happen, too. However, it’s neither realistic nor safe to do it too quickly.

When Sherry and I started our first Whole30, we decided that we weren’t after huge or incredible rates of weight loss. We wanted slow and steady. We wanted to be safe, and we wanted our weight loss to be sustainable long-term. We also wanted to avoid some of the side effects and risks people face when losing weight too quickly. It turned out to be the right decision, because neither Sherry nor I suffered from any of the ill effects some people suffer when losing weight too fast.

Ironically, there were people who admonished me about losing weight too quickly. They saw me losing weight on Facebook or here on the blog, and they didn’t realize how long ago I started the process. To them, it looked like I had lost weight overnight. I can confirm that my weight loss was definitely not overnight.

I lost 20 lbs in the first month, but I was nearly 300 lbs. Losing that 20 lbs was not noticeable to anyone; not even to me! I had lost 50 lbs before anyone noticed, and 80 lbs before I could really tell. At 100 lbs lost, I felt like I looked really different, and now at 110 lbs lost, I’m a different person. However, I didn’t get here overnight. I didn’t even get here over the period of a few months; it took over a year.

We don’t always see the progress we make. It’s hard when you see yourself day after day in the mirror. Those changes become invisible to you. That’s why status photos are so important. I took them every few weeks, and only then was I really able to tell how much I had lost.

My fitness has been taking the same route. I started running over five weeks ago, and I’m just now starting to get to a point where running is effortless. On my run this morning, I ran the entire three miles without pain, and without feeling like I was exerting a whole lot of energy. I wasn’t taking it easy; I had set a pretty good pace for myself (a record pace for the first half mile, even!) yet my body was rewarding me with all the work I’d put in over the past five weeks by making this run easy.

It didn’t happen overnight either. It took weeks of running slowly, of building up the distance and the pace to get to where I am today. I’m nowhere near where I want to be, and that’s what I will work on over the coming weeks and months, but I am very happy to be where I am today. I’m a runner, I’m no longer overweight, and my health is good (just had a physical last week!).

Take your time. You’ll get there. Concentrate on being good and eating the right foods now and taking exercise when you feel that you can do so without hurting yourself. Even then, take it slow. You’re not in a race. The good changes will happen, and the results you’re after will come. It just takes patience, discipline, and determination.

Easy-mode Paleo Prep Day

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Smoked pulled pork; one of our favorite easy-mode prep foods.

Every now and then, our schedule becomes hectic, and taking an entire Sunday to prep meals for the week becomes a luxury we cannot afford. On these days, we opt for what we have come to call our “Easy-mode Paleo Prep Days.” This allows us to still get our meal prep done but in the most effort-free way possible.

Our Easy-mode Paleo Prep Day consists of the following:

Smoker

This is a fire and forget method of cooking. We take either brisket, ribs, chicken, fish, or pork shoulder and add a rub (typically salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders) and use pecan wood and leave in the smoker for the appropriate amount of time at the appropriate temperature. This is very easy to do, and there is a lot of leeway in the times, so if you’re going to be out of the house for a long time, you can opt for a slow-smoke for very delicious food. (Some Paleo guides, websites, and adherents don’t think smoking is Paleo due to the carcinogens in smoke. My wife and I have weighed the risk and we accept smoking into our diet)

Slow Cooker

Another great all-day no-touch cooking method, prepare a soup, stew, or chili and let it cook all day. When you get back home, you’ll find your food ready to be put into containers for the week (and sneak some for dinner, too!).

Instant Pot

This one is very useful if done first. While cooking in the Instant Pot, you can prep the meat to be smoked and the slow cooker. Then, before you wrap up in the kitchen, you can package whatever was in the Instant Pot. Then, you can use the Instant Pot as a slow cooker and put something else in it to cook all day. Double duty!

Using easy-mode doesn’t eliminate the time to prep food for the week; it only reduces it greatly. I would say that a couple of hours at most in the morning would be necessary and then an hour in the evening to package everything up. Teaming up and having someone cut up ingredients while the other puts everything together decreases prep time considerably as well.

Why Do It? You’re Not Getting Any Younger

file_000-52Someone said this to me the other day. “Why eat well and exercise? You’re not gettinga ny younger!” Really? Thanks for that nugget of wisdom. I guess I should just pack it up, give up, and wait to die. At age 49, right?

You can’t stop getting older, but you can feel young, spry, and energetic past 40 as long as you eat well and get some exercise. I was beginning to feel like an old man. My muscles ached and my joints were sore nearly every moment of my life past 40. My ability to do something so basic as tying my shoes became a chore. I became winded climbing one flight of stairs in my house. Running anything past 15-20 feet was out of the question. Long walks would leave me sweaty, tired, and winded. I really felt like I had lost my youth.

Then, I got tired of it. Based on information from my cousin Sarah, my friend Matt, and the reading I did on the Interweb based on the information they gave me, I decided that I wasn’t ready to just roll into the grave. I was going to get my health back and lose weight (and hopefully get fit). I didn’t expect to become a runner, but I’m ahead of myself here.

I convinced Sherry to join me in this endeavor, and we both committed to the lifestyle change in perpetuity. There was no turning back; we were in it for the long haul. We both did a Whole30 which changed our lives, and then we transitioned into Paleo. After 13 months, I’ve lost 110 lbs and have started running. Sure, I’m only running 3.25 miles in 30 minutes, but that’s after four weeks of running.

The best part of it all: I feel young. I feel energetic, I no longer feel sluggish, tired, or craving foods all the time. I eat three times a day when it’s time to eat a meal to fuel my body, and nothing more. I eat well, and I eat delicious food that leaves me satisfied. I don’t suffer when it comes to what I’m eating. As for the exercise: I never thought I’d be one of those people who enjoy exercise, but I do enjoy my runs. I probably like the post-run feeling a bit more than the actual run itself, but out of my last five runs, four of them were actually fun. One was even amazing.

I know I can’t stop the clock. We all have an expiration date. I refuse to feel old prematurely. I refuse to be so heavy that I can’t sit in a booth at a restaurant. I refuse to ne so big that I need a belt extender on an airplane (or have to face the look of the person who has to sit next to me on the plane). I love how I feel. I love having energy. I love being flexible. I really feel like I did over 20 years ago, and that’s no exaggeration.

Everyone can do what I did. It’s just food and a “whole lotta discipline.” I lost 110 lbs without running. To be honest, I’ve only lost 2 lbs since I began running a month ago. Food plays a much larger part in weight loss than any weight loss fitness program will lead you to believe. It also requires no additional products; just eat right and stick to it.

And yeah, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. I never want to feel like I used to before I got healthy. That life was filled with pain, embarrassment, and disgust. Never again.

I refuse to give in to the “Tasty” videos

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This is actually a Paleo carrot cake that Sherry made. Amazing flavor!

I see a lot of people posting these “Tasty” videos on Facebook. You know the ones I’m talking about: it’s a very cleverly edited video that shows ingredients being placed into a bowl and then the food is prepared. The vast majority of these, while most likely delicious, are very unhealthy. I watch them every time, and as soon as I see flour or sugar or rice or any other ingredient that is not Paleo get thrown into the bowl, I continue to scroll past.

It’s not that I can’t stand the temptation: that’s easy for me now. It’s that I feel badly for anyone who is still eating this stuff and thinking that it’s okay for us. If you, the reader, have been following along with me for any period of time, I hope that if you have learned one thing it would be that the diet recommended by the US Federal Government is horribly bad for us and based on bad science. Sugar is bad for us. Wheat and grains are bad for us. Dairy is only okay. Beans (legumes) and soy are not great for us, either.

Think about this: what do farmers feed their animals to fatten them up quickly? Grains. When did the US Government begin advocating eating a diet rich in grains? 1977. In what year did obesity begin to skyrocket in the US? 1977. Coincidences?

Our grandparents and great-grandparents knew that a diet rich in protein and vegetables was good for us and the key to losing weight. Even they knew that grains were fattening. That’s why they didn’t eat as much bread, cakes, and other grain-heavy foods as much as we do.

Is eating a slice of bread a day going to kill you? Probably not. Heck, I’ll even say most likely not. However, how many of us really eat just a single slice of bread a day? How many of us minimize the amount of carbs in the way of sugar, grains, soy, legumes, and dairy in our diets every day? Unless you are actively trying to reduce these things, it’s likely in nearly everything you eat. Strangest food find: most tuna has soy in it. Second-most strange find: most bacon has sugar in it.

Look at the labels of your food. Eliminate the foods that are bad for you. The amount of weight you will lose by just eliminating grains and added-sugar alone will surprise you.

And those “Tasty” videos? I’m over them. They are beautiful, but mostly bad for me.

Amazing Paleo Lunch

Today, while shopping for some Brussels sprouts for our prep-day cooking, we came across a really good deal going on at our local Sprout’s for lobster tail. We bought four of them and I grilled them for lunch.

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I took half a stick of butter and melted it in the microwave for 30 seconds. I then added in some spices from Penzey’s (a mix of oregano and others) and used this to baste the tails with. I basted the fleshy side and grilled the tails over medium flame on the grill for 6 minutes. I then turned them over and basted the flesh again while cooking for an additional 5 minutes. I made sure the lid was closed on the grill both times.

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When it was done, we served it with half of a sweet potato (we had these in the refrigerator as Sherry had made them earlier in the InstantPot) and some tomato and onion salad my wife made while I was grilling the tails. They went well together, and it was really tasty!

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Eating Paleo isn’t bland or not filling. After eating this lunch, both Sherry and I were left satisfied and raving about how tasty the food was. We will definitely do this again!

Get back on the horse

It’s easy to get demotivated. It’s easy to quit when you see others succeed and you aren’t experiencing the same results. It’s easy to just eat that donut or kolache, or to just stop at McDonald’s to pick up a meal pack and eat it for dinner. It’s far easier to eat low-quality pre-packaged food than it is to plan it, shop for it, and make it.

That’s the thing. Those are all the easy way out.

You’re better than that. You’re worth more than that. You are worth the time and the effort. You deserve it. Your body needs it.

It is hard to be dedicated. It is hard to stay motivated. It is hard to stick with eating whole foods and avoiding sugar. For some, it’s extremely hard. Sugar addiction is every bit as real as heroin addiction, and it’s been suggested by scientific studies that it’s every bit as difficult to kick sugar as it is to kick hard drugs.

Everyone fails every now and then. Everyone has moments of weakness. What defines those who succeed at kicking the sugar addiction and being able to realize the success at losing weight and adopting a healthy lifestyle is never giving up and getting back up on that horse at the very next meal.

Don’t let the fast food and the sugar win. You can do this. You can beat this. No, it won’t happen over night, and yes, it’s hard work, but you can do it. Trust me. I’m super lazy when it comes to putting in effort to lose weight, and I was able to do it. 110 lbs in 13 months. I’m no Superman. I’m just a regular guy who said, “No more” to being fat.

I don’t expect everyone to lose 10 lbs a month. But with effort, discipline, and motivation, you can reach your goals. It won’t be overnight, but you will get there, but only if you try.

Weekend Planning

What can you do about eating Paleo when you want to go out and spend the day out in the country, or in the city, or anywhere away from home? With a little bit of planning ahead, it’s not that hard at all.

You can make a picnic of it. Just like I wrote yesterday, with a little planning, you can have a picnic with Paleo-friendly meats and vegetables. Heck, throw a few fruits in there as well!

Another option is to find foods that are Paleo-friendly at restaurants. BBQ and Mexican can be surprisingly Paleo as long as you stay away from the rice, beans, tortillas, and potato salad. Fajitas are typically Paleo-compliant and tasty. Sherry and I have it served with guacamole and grilled onions with some grilled vegetables. As for the BBQ, I typically ask if their rubs have sugar in them. If they do, then I either find which meat they have available either has no sugar or the least amount. The amount of sugar in a rub is negligible if that’s all they’ve got. Obviously, stay away from the bread/muffins/rolls and BBQ sauce if they put sugar in it as well.

As a last resort, you just have to eat what’s available. However, you can make some smart choices and go as Paleo as possible. Skip bread, noodles, and fried food. Most restaurants have some sort of food that’s almost Paleo.

Ultimately, if it’s a vacation or even a getaway, you can get away with having a non-Paleo meal every now and then. Heck, I ate some bread pudding on a vacation a few months back, and it was heavenly! Of course, my stomach hated me for it, but it was worth it. I’m now cured of wanting bread pudding again for a long time.

Once you’ve been eating Paleo for a while, it’s easy to know what you should or shouldn’t eat, and eating at non-Paleo restaurants gets easier.