What foods do you miss out on when you eat Paleo?

I want to preface this post by saying that many of the foods here have Paleo alternatives that are very good. In many cases, they taste as good, or even in some cases, better than the original. However, there’s just something about the foods on my list below that I miss. I know it’s the sugar or the grains… either way, while I love my Paleo food, there are only a few foods that I no longer eat that I used to enjoy immensely. Fortunately, it’s a short list.

The best hot dogs in the universe: Portillo’s.

Chicago Style Hot Dogs. There are no alternatives, and nothing to replace this gaping hole in my culinary heart. This has been the hardest pill for me to swallow since going Paleo.

A spaghetti dish I made from scratch in 2013. It’s steaming hot in this picture.

Real Pasta Spaghetti. This is one of the big ones for me. I love pasta. LOVE it. I am part Italian, and this part of me must be manifested by my love of pasta. I used to eat it at least once or twice a week. At one point in my life, I ate spaghetti as much as five times a week. This was back when I was in the Marines and running daily, so with that coupled with youth, I didn’t gain the weight. Now? My body is very efficient and storing everything from the spaghetti and making me fat. So, I avoid it. I haven’t had spaghetti in over a year. Sherry makes a really great spiralized zucchini that’s very close (or even spaghetti squash), but it’s not pasta.

Sushi at a dinner in San Francisco in 2012.

Sushi. We can eat the fish, but not the rice. We have made sushi using caulirice, and it’s  a really good approximation and very close, but it’s just not the same. I miss you, sushi rice in all your sticky goodness.

Me and my beloved In-n-Out Hamburgers in 2012.

Fast food hamburgers. We eat burgers from time to time with either a Paleo bun or with a lettuce wrap, but there’s nothing like an In-n-Out hamburger. Nothing. I love these, and I miss them. Living in Houston has helped me keep from giving into the temptation of eating In-n-Out, but visits to Austin and Dallas have really tested my resolve. So far, I’ve won, but why do I feel like ultimately I’ve lost?

Pizza. I’ve had some Paleo pizzas that are really good, but nothing compares to a real pizza. I’m an equal opportunity pizza lover: thin crust, thick crust, Chicago style, New York style, or even Dominoes style. I just love pizza. I miss the real stuff, but at least there are Paleo versions that come close. Close.

Bread. There are some Paleo breads that are very good (the soda bread Sherry makes is, in my opinion, even tastier and better than the real deal!), but I love French bread. I love the fluffiness of the inside and the crunchiness of the crust. Paleo bread, while delicious, just doesn’t get all the way to perfection the way French bread does. Don’t even get me started on a bread that you cannot make in Paleo at all: Croissants.

Breakfast cereals/oatmeal/cream of wheat (farina). I’ve had some Paleo versions of these, but they have all been a bit of a disappointment. I am one of the rare people who loves oatmeal and absolutely adores cream of wheat, but Paleo versions, for me, don’t even come close. I have had to come to terms with never having these again.

BLT’s (and other sandwiches). I love a good BLT, especially on rye. Now, I can only dream of sandwiches, for the most part. At least I can have bacon. And lettuce. And tomatoes. Just not in a sandwich.

For every other type of food, there’s a very close analogue. So close, in fact, that it’s either hard to tell the difference, or Sherry and I have found the Paleo versions to be superior in flavor.

In the end, it’s about decisions that effect our health. I prefer to make decisions that are based on a long-term view. With the exception of the occasional holiday or special event, I eat only Paleo food, and I feel much better about it. Also, having lost over 110 lbs eating Paleo is a pretty good feeling, too.

Recovery and Running after an eight day break

Making my best Billy Idol face after a successful run after not running for 8 days.

As anyone who follows this blog knows, I’ve been sick for the past week. I had a very bad cold and sinus infection which took me a long time to recover from and kept me from running. While I wanted to run each and every day I was sick to keep from losing the progress I’ve worked so hard for, I was too weak, felt too badly, and was suffering from a lot of pain. I also didn’t want to stress my body to the point where it lengthened the duration of my recovery or made matters worse. So, I did the smart thing and waited it out.

I will admit that each day I didn’t run added some anxiety. I thought about how bad my legs would hurt when I finally got back on the road. How they would feel like concrete. How my joints would ache, and how I would feel like quitting after every step. I worried about my ability to get back on the road and run a decent pace and not have my heart jumping out of my chest. I mourned the loss of all the time and effort I put into getting to where I could run a comfortable pace for a decent distance without over-exertion. I thought it was all lost.

It turned out that I worried for nothing.

It wasn’t my fastest or longest run, but it was close to my fastest. I decided not to look at my watch for split times and just run; let my body dictate how fast I ran. I wanted to be able to get back to it without trying to push too hard. I was surprised at how fast I was able to run with comfort. I think I know how horses feel when they transition from a trot into a gallop. At a few points during the run, I didn’t actually feel like I was running. I felt like I was gliding on a pair of legs that were beneath me without being really attached to me. It was kind of surreal, and I liked it.

In the end, I finished my 3.51 mile run with a 9’48” pace overall with a time of 34:30. I’m very okay with this result, and I am no longer worried about lost progress. Turns out, the body bounces back pretty well if you allow it to heal. Also, there’s a chance that the week off from running helped my legs heal up a bit. Not that they were hurt or injured, but I’m sure the muscles had a chance to rebuild and prepare for my upcoming runs a little better. I was also able to start with my 50 push ups. I was worried I would have to bump back down to 40, but that wasn’t the case. I actually feel like I can bump it up a bit next time.

It feels good to be back on my feet again.

Sick = No Running

This is my, “I can’t believe I’m sick over the holidays” face.

I’ve had a terrible cold for the past six days. I’ve had a fever, stuffed sinuses, running nose, and a cough for a week. It’s finally getting better, but it’s been a miserable holiday break from a health standpoint. My largest disappointment: I’ve been unable to run.

With all the progress I’ve been making toward my distance and run times, I feel emotionally wrecked. I enjoy my running, and I was really enjoying seeing the times come down, the pace come up, and the running getting easier. Now, a lot of that is getting erased due to some stupid illness.

I’m hoping to be back at running on Tuesday morning. I’ve been very patient with not pushing myself to run before my body is over this cold because the last thing I want to do is prolong it or make it worse. I need to let my body use all its strength to fight off this bug.

So, here I sit, with muscles that are screaming to me, “Let’s get out there!” It’s so hard to ignore, but I need to be smart about this.

I will get back out there, and I will run. I will hit my distances, and I will work back to my best pace and crush past it. I just can’t do it right now. And I hate it.

PaleoMarine on ManvFat.com


A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by the website manvfat.com, and that interview went live today. You can read it here. It was a really fun interview, and I thought the questions asked were really good.

I’ll be answering questions on their site as well for anyone who asks. Check out the site; it’s really cool with lots of folks who have all made huge changes in their lives through diet and exercise. We didn’t all take the same path, but we’re on the same journey and getting to the same destination: better health and fitness.

So, you overate at Thanksgiving. So did I.

A completely Paleo Thanksgiving.

Yep. I ate a lot. It was all Paleo, but it doesn’t matter. The amount of food I ate greatly exceeded my normal intake for food in the same period of time. The result: up five pounds. I expected this, and I knew that it would be a psychological hit. And yeah, I hate it. But, I was around great people that mean the world to me for two glorious days, and I enjoyed foods that they made with love. So yeah, I overate, but that’s because I was enjoying myself and living. I was in the moment.

Now, that moment has passed, and I need to get rid of the five pounds I gained. Admittedly, a lot of it will leave me in the next day or two naturally. I’ve yet to have my post-gorging bowel movement, so there’s that. As for the other two pounds, I’ll lose that by being really good at portion control. And then there’s also this thing I try to do every other day: running. I’ll put in an extra mile every day this week, most likely. Not that it’ll help me lose the weight, but it’ll help my mind with the psychological damage done by gaining so much weight in so little time.

My family: my daughter Gelli (top left), my son Brendon (middle), and Sherry. I’m the goofball on the lower left (of course).

The clothes all fit the same and I still look the same, although my gut looks a little softer today. I figure within a week or two, I’ll be back at my lean look and working toward 165. Until then, I will savor the memories of the great Thanksgiving we had this year, all the laughs and the stories, and of course, all the delicious foods we ate.

Giving Thanks

Our Thanksgiving meal was delicious and very Paleo this year thanks to my wife and our amazing friends.

Our Daily Bacon

I am thankful for so many things in my life right now – I have a challenging job that I really enjoy, two sweet kids who are becoming wonderful young adults, and I am particularly thankful for my amazing husband and our friends who have been so supportive of our new healthier lifestyle.  This thanksgiving, we had a dinner for 14 and fortunately they were amenable to our adjusted dietary approach on Thanksgiving dinner which turned out absolutely fantastic, if I do say so myself.

We didn’t keep the table strictly Paleo, since we did have some traditional folks in the group, but I think we managed to blend the offerings very well, and even better, our guests brought a number of the dishes to share, so I didn’t have to do the experimenting all myself.

First the appetizers:

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Mad Respect to the Ultimate Fitness People

After my great run this morning; I really enjoyed it. What is wrong with me?

Crossfit, marathons, body building, triathlons, biathlons, etc. People who take part in those have my utmost respect. I have said in the past that I can’t be someone who does those things, yet I find myself creeping ever so slowly into their camp.

No. Not yet. I said creeping. Please keep reading.

This morning as I ran, I found myself not wanting to get going. I thought about stopping a few times not because I was tired or wore out or even in any pain. I just didn’t feel like doing it. After the first half mile, I still wasn’t into it, but I kept going.  Then, something crazy happened. I not only felt like finishing the run, but I actually added an extra mile to it. It felt good. The last half was a little tough and I started to feel it in my muscles, but then after the last mile was done, I went for another quarter of a mile. Why?

Because I could.

I can’t say I pushed myself with my pace this morning, because I didn’t. I didn’t set out to break any records or make any personal bests. I just set out to run on this brisk (43 degrees!) morning to continue my journey in getting fit. What I found  was that I started getting a good feeling from exceeding a past accomplishment.

This is new.

Since doing my first Whole30 and going Paleo, I’ve been pretty adamant about not needing exercise to lose weight. I still maintain that it is not necessary, and that’s super-important for those who are physically unable to exercise or who are like I used to be and just flat-out refused to exercise. That’s okay: you can still lose weight! But then, it isn’t enough. You lose weight, but you find that you are weak and that you want something more out of your body. You start doing something to get some exercise. The next thing you know, you’re adding miles to your runs and feeling GREAT afterward.

So I get it. You people who do the extreme physical activities; you’re not weird. You’re not so strange to me anymore. You’re just way farther ahead of me in this journey, and far more dedicated. I don’t know that I will ever get to exactly the same level as you super-people, but I am finding that I am enjoying being able to be physically active and to push myself a little here and there.

It feels good. And dammit, I never thought I’d be the person saying this, but I’m glad I started running. It’s one of the best things I’ve done in the past 10 years.

Still Paleo and Running

This was a day of many personal bests for me, hence the funny look on my face.

I was asked recently if I’m still Paleo since I’m running every other day (and sometimes back-to-back days). I answered that of course I am!

I know that many runners, especially distance runners, eat lots of carbs to load up on energy for their bodies to use on those long runs. I, however, am not a distance runner. I run to be fit. I enjoy it, and I find myself working toward new personal bests, but running long distance is not a goal of mine. I just enjoy running and the feeling I have afterward. So far, I’ve been able to run successfully without eating an abundance of carbs.

Eating Paleo has been the best thing to happen to me in regards to my health. I lost over 110 lbs in a year and it’s allowed me to begin running. I’m not not only thinner but healthier and getting fit. I can do 50 push ups and run sub 9-minute miles, all while eating Paleo.

Paleo isn’t some weird fad. It’s based on solid science. Sure, there are some strange parts of the Paleo movement that I don’t necessarily concentrate on or even agree with, but when it comes to getting rid of grains, sugar, soy, and dairy, that all makes solid sense to me, and the improvements in my health, my wife’s health, and in the health of all who have followed me have proven that the Paleo diet is much better for us than man other diets out there. And by diet, I mean long-term eating habits and not a program for weight loss, because weight loss programs are not long-term sustainable.

My wife’s blog has many great recipes, and by doing a Google search, you can find hundreds of thousands of great Paleo recipes. There’s a Paleo option for nearly every type of food out there. Check them out. We’ve found that the vast majority of them are delicious, filling, and good for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo by Carlo Damocles

I hope that everyone is having a happy Thanksgiving today, and that you are with the people you love and mean the most to you. My wife, children, and closest friends are all here with Sherry and I today, and for that, we are very thankful. We keep in our hearts those members of our family who were unable to be here due to distance and commitments.

I am very often asked about eating at holidays: what is a Paleo person to do? Sherry and I have found that there are many foods that are Paleo-friendly that we can make for our friends and family that taste either nearly identical or outright identical to their non-Paleo counterparts. Sherry even found a Paleo stuffing that is delicious!

There are times, however, when you will find yourself in an environment where the food is non-Paleo. That’s okay. It’s okay to eat non-Paleo food every now and then, especially on holidays and extra-special occasions. Thanksgiving qualifies as both. Just remember that if you’ve been eating Paleo for any amount of time, your body will react negatively to things with lots of dairy, grains, or sugar in them. Those rolls will be as tasty as ever, but your stomach will not feel very good afterward, especially if you over indulge. The same goes for stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, and mashed potato (if made with all the additional traditional ingredients).

A strategy I use is to try to limit my serving size, not because I worry about the carbs, but because I worry about the physical discomfort. After the meal, just go back to eating your normal Paleo food. You may see a spike in your weight, or you may feel a little bloated for a day afterward: that’s okay. It’s not a step back; it’s just a reminder from your body that your Paleo lifestyle is much healthier, and that your body prefers your Paleo food.

From our family to yours, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

I am the same person in a new body

2014vs2016edgefaceThat’s how it feels for me. Honestly. It’s almost unnerving.

There are times I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and I don’t recognize the person looking back at me. Well, I kind of do, but it’s the ghost of a person who I remember peering back at me in mirrors over 20 years ago. That person has long been gone. I thought he was dead forever.

I have security cameras at our home, and I often look through the footage to see if there is any need for concern, persons peeking into windows, etc. Sometimes, I catch glimpses that startle me; a stranger walking in our home. Upon closer examination, I find that the person is me.

My joints still have the occasional ache of a 49 year-old, but otherwise, I feel more vibrant, energetic, and able to do anything I want.

Walk up stairs without being winded? Check.

Run to the mailbox in the rain without my heart thumping out of my chest? Check.

Run after the dog while he plays with me and actually wear him out? Check.

Bend down to tie my shoes without having to hold my breath? Check.

Sit in an airliner seat with room in front of me and even on the sides of me? Check.

These things all used to be normal for me when I was young, but I thought it was age that was keeping me from them. I also thought that it was impossible for me to regain the ability to run, go up stairs, or sit in small spaces without being uncomfortable. I didn’t count on losing all this weight.

Sure, I hoped. I set my mind to it, and I did everything that I was told to do, but I didn’t expect for it to succeed. I especially didn’t expect to be able to start running regularly and that I would enjoy it, or that I would actually look forward to it. Yet here I am.

I read a lot of sci-fi, and I’ve read a few tales in which people’s brains are removed from their sick or feeble bodies and placed into younger bodies that were cloned for that sole purpose. Those people feel rejuvenated and describe many of the same things I’ve experienced. What many fail to go into are the emotional aspect of this change.

I find myself afraid a lot. Every time I eat until my body feels full, I become afraid that I will gain weight and go back to what I used to be. It’s a very palpable fear, and I hate it. I weigh myself daily, and when my weight climbs for any reason, I analyze what I did the day prior to get to that point. I work extra hard to bring it back down. Now that I’ve begun losing weight again, it’s not quite so bad, but when my rate of loss slows, I get that fear: will I get fat again without wanting to?

The logical answer is no, I will not. I am doing everything I can do avoid gaining the weight and staying fit. I know that I can’t put over 130 lbs back on over night, and since I get pretty freaked out at 2 lbs gained, the chances of me gaining more is pretty slim. But yet, the fear persists.

I also worry about something happening to me that forces me to have to eat foods that I know are harmful to me. I don’t know what would cause this to happen nor can I imagine scenarios in which this happens, but the fear is there.

I am extremely happy for my weight loss and very proud of the results I’ve achieved. I try to help anyone who asks, and I hope to be an inspiration to those who are following in my footsteps. I take this very seriously, and it actually fuels my motivation to keep strong.

I also feel so much better, that the vast majority of the time, it’s a joy to be in this new body. The experiences I’m having now would have been impossible 14 months ago. Heck, even 6 months ago! These last 4 months have been amazing, and I don’t want to give this up for anything. Yet sometimes, I feel like I’m in someone else’s body. I hope that sensation goes away at some point.