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.

Quick and Easy Paleo Lunches for Picnics

Sherry and I have found ourselves in situations where we wouldn’t be able to warm up a pre-made lunch, nor would we be able to take one with us due to a lack of refrigeration. Also, weight was a consideration, so we were forced with a decision: do we take food with us to eat Paleo, or do we eat what’s available and risk having to eat food that is off-plan?

Taking a cue from my parents and grandparents, we went Hungarian Picnic style. What is that? Our lunches over the past two weekends consisted of the following:

  • Paleo bread (the recipe can be found on Sherry’s website)
  • Chorizo (pre-cooked and made with no sugar)
  • Red Bell pepper
  • Radishes
  • Butter
  • Tomatoes

We could have added more vegetables, but we didn’t really need a huge lunch; just enough to fuel our bodies and stave off hunger. These small lunches also allowed us to eat slightly larger dinners.

I know what some of you are thinking: what kind of Hungarian picnic has chorizo? Probably none. Hungarians would use some sort of Gyulai (sausage), kolbasz (sausage), or szalona (bacon) as the meat. My dad was fond of making fasirt (pork and beef meatballs), and Sherry and I have made these for picnics before, too. I came up with a really good Paleo recipe for fasirt that’s also on her website.

Paleo isn’t effortless, but nothing worthwhile is. It takes some planning and prep time, but it’s worth it. Finding creative ways to have Paleo meals gives you more options and makes the lifestyle easier to adopt and stick with. What Paleo meal hacks have you found?