Why Ask if You Don’t Care?

dohI get asked every few weeks or so, “So, you never eat bread anymore?” and many variations on this question with bread replaced with the things I don’t eat anymore. I take that as an invitation to discuss diet, so I tell them, “No. Not anymore.” So far, that has always been followed by, “But why? I heard bread is good for you.” I then go into why it’s really not good for us, how the food lobby has paid for studies the government cites as sources of why we should eat more grains and how sugar isn’t as bad as some of us say it is. These people nod, smile, and tell me how shocked they are and then they go (literally, right before my eyes) and take a bite of a donut and wash it down with orange juice.

Really?

Maybe I’m just a curiosity to them. I really don’t know. Ultimately, like I tell people all the time, I’m not the Paleo Police, and I honestly am not going to give you crap for eating whatever you chose to eat. It’s your decision, and I respect that. But if you ask me my opinion on the food you’re eating, you’ll get it. And most likely, unless you’re eating Paleo, it won’t be what you want to hear.

Maybe they’re trying to be polite and have conversation on the only thing they know about me. I’ve become “That health nut guy” or “That Paleo guy.” Now, I have added to that, “That fitness guy” and “That guy who runs.” I’m okay with these labels, I guess. It’s better than, “That really heavy guy,” “That overweight guy,” or “That fat guy.”

The Paleo Fad

dohI’ve been asked from time to time if I’m following the “Fad Diet” of Paleo. Whenever I hear this question, I have to sigh. These people don’t understand the difference between a diet and a weight loss diet.

Adkins is what most people know of as a low-carb weight loss diet. It was designed for people to adopt with the sole purpose of losing weight. The Paleo Diet, on the other hand, is a lifestyle that is intended to be adopted for life. It’s a diet that promotes the eating of meat, vegetables, and fruit while avoiding sugar, grains, legumes (including soy), and dairy.

People think that because the Paleo diet has become very popular lately that it’s a fad. They also believe that people will only achieve short-term weight loss followed by a gain of weight. I haven’t experienced that in my 13+ months of being Paleo. As a matter of fact, I lost weight steadily for the first 12 months, got stuck on a plateau because I ate too little, and then started losing weight again once I realized I was under-eating. My  body will hit a low point one day where equilibrium is reached between my calorie intake and utilization, but until I reach that point, I will continue to lose weight. I look forward to reaching that low. It’ll be a final victory.

Let there be no mistake: this is no fad. This is a diet that is rooted in good, solid science. The detractors who don’t take Paleo seriously come into the discussion with preconceived notions and a predisposition to dismissing any argument that shows that the Paleo diet is efficacious and safe. I just read a blog post from a blogger who is a nutritionist, and her understanding of the Paleo diet was atrocious and dangerously misinformed. She tried to take apart the Paleo diet and show how it didn’t make sense. Well, based on the incorrect information she had, of course it didn’t make sense! But she didn’t take the time to actually visit a Paleo website or even try to understand the actual foods we eat and avoid. Unfortunately, I’ve encountered far more medical professionals with the same view as this nutritionist. This is horrible, because instead of treating the root cause of so many of our obesity-related maladies, they choose instead to treat the symptoms. I guess there’s more money in it.

I am not Paleo because it’s a fad. I am Paleo because it’s made me healthy, helped me get fit, and probably saved my life.

I Caught a Cold

file_000-69
This is my, “I can’t believe I have a cold” face.

This is my first illness since going Paleo, and I am upset that I’ll miss a scheduled run tomorrow. I haven’t missed any of my scheduled runs since I started running this year on September 10th, so this is kind of a big deal, but I have to let my body heal and get better before I go back out again. The last thing I need is to injure myself or to lengthen the duration of the illness.

I’ll lay on the couch today and rest. I’ll do everything I can to not exert myself to ensure my body heals as quickly as possible so that I can get back out there and run again soon.

Eat until you’re full.

file_000-66
This is a salmon dish Sherry made a while back. Delicious and filling!

I don’t count calories. I don’t watch my macros. I don’t weigh my food before I eat it. I just eat enough to feel full. Well, that is, I do now. I knew I was supposed to do that, and when Sherry and I started our first Whol30, it was one of the hardest things to get used to. I always thought I was overeating when in actuality, I was just eating what my body wanted. A year later, I found myself no longer losing weight despite my eating smaller meals. I thought that as I got smaller, my meals should get smaller, too, and that I was just doing what I was supposed to do to keep losing weight. Except I forgot one thing: my body knows how much food it needs better than I think it does.

Let me explain: I was sticking to 2 eggs and 2 slices of bacon for breakfast. I enjoy it, it tastes good, and it keeps me full until around 10 am. Then, I would start to get hungry. I eat lunch at 11 am and I would start feeling hungry again around 4 pm. Because I typically try to eat dinner with Sherry, that means no food until around 6-7 pm. That’s a long stretch to go without food, and all while being hungry!

The worst part is that my weight loss stopped around two months ago. I’ve been hovering at a low for months now despite my physical activity. Then it dawned on me as I was giving advice to someone who is adopting Paleo themselves: eat until you’re full. Of course, that doesn’t mean go hog wild, but eating slowly, your body will reach a point at which it tells you that its full, and then you should just stop eating. I was not doing this.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been eating more food. It felt weird at the beginning, to eat more food to lose weight, but it turned out I was right. I wasn’t eating enough. Now, I’m back to losing weight; two solid weeks of weight loss are now behind me. Of course, now that I weigh less, the number of pounds I lose is less, but as a percentage, it’s still about right: about 1% a week. I’ll take it!

Eat until you’re full. Don’t leave a meal hungry. If you are, you’re not doing it right, and you are setting yourself up for failure. If you stick to the good foods (meat, vegetables, some fruit), you will lose weight even after you eat until you are full. And notice I don’t say stuffed; just full. It requires some discipline (especially if you have overeating issues like I did) but it’s doable.

Move. Do something. Anything.

file_000-68
Me after a great run recently having accomplished many personal bests.

My sister used to tell me this. “Don’t set out to run a marathon on your first day. Just get up off the couch and move. Do something. Do anything. Just don’t sit your life away waiting to die.” I used to think she was crazy. Why would I want to be uncomfortable and sweaty and work hard for something I don’t care about, anyway? What’s the benefit of being fit if we’re all going to die, anyway?

Well.

Let’s go over some of the benefits of being fit.

  1. Comfort. Life is more comfortable when you’re fit. I can bend over, reach my shoes, run up a flight of stairs, play with the dog, and have “Mommy and Daddy time” without as much effort anymore. Seriously; life is so much easier when you’re fit.
  2. Clothing. I can shop off any rack in any store now. The mainstream clothing stores stock clothes that look nice for people who are “Average,” and I’m “Average” now. The clothes not only fit better, but look good, too.
  3. Self esteem. Yes, this is a real thing, and it does matter. We all try to say it doesn’t, and that we all feel fine when we’re fat. I used to tell people all the time that I was completely fine with the size I was. I lied. Every damn time. I wasn’t fine. It hurt, I was sore, I was tired, and I felt horrible because I didn’t look anywhere near what I wanted to look like. We can’t change our faces or who we are, but we can change our body size and health through diet and exercise. Being fit helps you feel better about yourself which makes it easier to eat right and make health and fitness decisions. It also helps you with social situations. When you feel better about yourself, you’re more confident, etc.
  4. Health improvement. I know, most people would put this first, but who in the hell cares about health improvement if they don’t want to exercise in the first place? I mean, if you cared so much about improving your health, you’d already be exercising. We all know without being told by some ol’ Marine that exercise improves your health. If you don’t know that, you are probably still in the second grade and should stop reading the Interwebs and go out and play with your friends now. Go on, get out of here!
  5. Not dying. Seriously; this is better than a health benefit; it’s an existence benefit. I have stated before on my blog the dire condition my health was getting into. Now, I’m literally fit enough to rejoin the military. I call this a huge bonus.

My friend Steve has started walking and riding his bicycle since downloading Pokemon Go! onto his iPhone. He gets exercise walking around, hatching eggs and catching Pokemon. He said to me that it wasn’t much compared with what I do, but he enjoyed it. I told him that it doesn’t matter what I do, and it’s not a competition. Do what you can do. Do what you enjoy. Just do something.

Achievement Unlocked: 241st Marine Corps Birthday Ball

bdayball2016
Sherry and me at the 241st Marine Corps Birthday Ball in 2016.

One of my major goals when I began my weight loss and fitness journey was to once again fit into my Marine Corps dress blues uniform in full compliance with MCO 1020.34g (that’s the Marine Corps Order on uniform regulations) and wear it to the 241st Marine Corps Birthday Ball in 2016. Being in full compliance means being in height/weight compliance as well as ensuring all aspects of the regulations are met. As a Marine who was discharged honorably, I am permitted to wear any Marine Corps uniform at any time as long as it is within compliance with the aforementioned Marine Corps Order. It is customary for us old Marines to wear our dress blues at Birthday Balls.


When Sherry and I were doing our first Whole30, we were making goals, and one of the things that came up was that she was sad that she never had an opportunity to go to a ball or military function with me. This gave me an idea: why not try to get back into dress blues and take her to a Birthday Ball? I told her that I wanted to take her to the next birthday ball and that I would wear my dress blues, and she thought that it was a great idea, but that it was far-fetched. I have to admit that I was with her on that; it was a good goal, but one that had (I thought at the time) little chance of happening. I was over 130 lbs overweight from Marine Corps standards, and losing that kind of weight in 14 months is very hard to do.

During the past 14 months, there were times when I thought that I wouldn’t make it. I was making great progress, but it never quite sunk in that I could do it. It wasn’t until around June when it looked like it was actually a possibility. Then, when August rolled around and I was so close, I figured it was time to start looking at uniforms. I measured myself and found that I was easily within the size I wore when I left the Corps, and actually even thinner.

file_000-64
A quick selfie the first time I tried on the dress blues in September, 2016.

In early September, I purchased a full set of dress blues and tried them on. They fit, and I was ecstatic. I took my glasses off and stared at myself in the mirror. I looked like my old self, even in uniform. It was a moment of victory for me, and I savored it with a quick selfie.

The final moment when I realized that I’ve accomplished so much in a year came when Sherry and I walked out of our hotel room and walked downstairs to the ballroom. There were other Marines standing around in their dress blues, and as I walked up, they greeted me. I stood there with them, talking, and the old feeling of camaraderie and brotherhood came back. I was among my own, and I deserved to be there in my uniform. I did’t look or feel out of place, and I was honoring the Marine Corps by following the MCO on uniform regulations to the letter, as any Marine should when wearing our uniforms. It felt amazing.

sherrymebdayball2016kissSherry and I had a wonderful evening. She enjoyed the ceremony, the dancing, and talking to other former Marines. My good friends Steve and Anita were there with us, and the evening was truly special because of them. I did drink a fair amount of alcohol (as did most of the other Marines there) but with the exception of a headache the next morning, I’ve suffered no ill effects. We have decided to make this an annual thing, and we are already looking forward to the next one.

Fall Flavors

Some new flavors that turned out great!

Our Daily Bacon

This weekend, E.J. and I made our annual visit to the Texas Renaissance Festival with our friends Kenny and Elaine.  Fortunately, Paleo options abound at the fair, and we feasted on sausage, sweet potato tots, and sauerkraut. We wore the same outfits as last year, but we both had to make some major adjustments to our costumes to get them to fit right.  E.J. ended up ordering another shirt and kilt since the old ones were too big to alter, and I tore apart the shirt, vest, and skirt, cutting out 6 inches or so out and putting it all back together.

It’s amazing what a difference a year makes.

On Sunday, it was back to the weekly prep, and while some ribs were doing their thing in the smoker, I worked on a few seasonably autumn dishes.

First, I started the Crock Pot going on this excellent Beef and…

View original post 151 more words

A Day of Personal Bests

file_000-67Today was a day of personal bests for me, and I couldn’t be more excited! I started the morning off as I always do; with push ups. Today, I decided to go up from the 45 I’ve been doing for the past few days by doing 50 push ups and I did it! It was hard and I had to push myself a little, but I got to 50 and stopped. Could I have done more? Probably, but not many more. I’ve been doing a good job of avoiding injury, so I didn’t push myself to a breaking point. Just to 50 and stopped.

Then came the run. I decided to stretch out the legs a little and start with a faster pace. I normally don’t like to do this, but I decided to stretch the pace by increasing the distance my legs kicked out, and I concentrated on the feeling in my feet as I pushed the ground away from me. It’s hard to explain, but I could actually feel the speed this time. I got into a comfortable run pace and held it steady for three miles, which is a huge win for me.

I didn’t look at my pace or splits during the run; I wanted to just give it what I thought I needed to give to get a decent time, and it worked. I was able to run 3.52 miles with a 9’26” pace! My two mile time was 18’08” (my goal was to do it under 19′) and my three mile time was 27’46” which for my age would be a passing (decent) run in the Marine Corps PFT. This is a benchmark for me. I wore my USMC dress blues this past weekend as I was within the height/weight regulations, and now I’m able to run within the USMC PT standards as well. If I had a pull up bar and someone to hold my feet, I could have done the pull ups and crunches to see what score I could get for my age. Maybe some weekend I’ll go to a park with Sherry and take a PFT to see how I do.

I am very happy this morning! My weight is still declining, my physical abilities are increasing, and I’m feeling great. I have a good burn in my legs today from pushing it out a little harder than normal, but none of the bad pain. And to think, I just started running on September 10th of this year, and already, I’m running sub-10 minute miles. Heck, I’m almost to running sub-9’s consistently!

Categories PT

Back-to-back runs

Friday morning, I ran. This is not a big deal, and normally isn’t blog worthy in and of itself, but what is significant is that I ran after running Thursday and not taking a rest day. My pace was on-par with my average runs, and the distance was 3.5 miles.

I did have a little bit of pain in my left hip, but I think that was because I pushed it and sprinted in the last mile a few times. Maybe I’m not ready for that just yet, but the run itself was nice, and I wasn’t in any discomfort or pain with the exception of the little aches I get typically when I start. I infer those as my muscles saying, “Dude. Why are we doing this. You know, you can just stop and we’ll stop bothering you” which then turns into, “Oh well. You’re not going to stop. We might as well join the rest of the team and just get through this.” It typically happens around the .5 to 1 mile mark and then the rest of the run is just fine.

My ultimate goal is to run 5-6 times a week without it being hard. I don’t want to run super-long distances, nor am I looking to break any land/speed records. I just want to go out, run 4-5 miles, and feel normal afterward. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m getting there, and that feels good.

Now, however, I think that maybe running 4 times a week max is a better plan for the time being. After taking three days off to allow a spot on my heel to heal (haha),  a lot of other pains and aches I’ve been having have gone away. I think I needed the time to rest and to let the joints and muscles heal a bit. I haven’t been pushing myself hard, but maybe back-to-back runs are a bit much for me. Only time will tell, and we’ll see. The point is, I’m not going to push it to get to daily runs just yet. Maybe after another month or two, but for now, I’m okay with every other day.

As for push-ups, I’m up to 45 consistently now. I’ll likely up that to 50 soon, but again, I’m pretty pleased with the progress.

I run to be fit, not to lose weight

I was talking to someone about the run I had earlier in the day when they said, “Oh, that’s how you stay so thin.” Well two things: First, I’m not thin (yet) and second, no, it’s not how I stay so ‘thin.’ I do that be eating good food.

Let there be no mistake: I am a runner. I do not run fast, nor do I run super long distances, but I do run regularly, and I do enjoy it. However, I do not run to lose weight. That’s not how this works.

I know there are those who exercise huge amounts for long periods of time. These people try to burn enough calories to create a deficit that causes them to lose weight. They think that by burning calories, they’re burning fat. That’s not how it works, either. But I digress. These people spend 2 or even 3 hours (and some even more!) in the gym sweating and being miserable to lose weight. In the end, if they are eating sensibly and burning through calories like that, then sure; they will lose weight. However, it’s easier (at least it was to me) to just eat normally and let your body lose the weight naturally.

I run because I want to be fit. I want to be more active, and I want to be able to run, climb, hike, jump, etc without causing injury or without getting winded. I’m also preparing for a return to military service (reserves) and I need to be in top shape physically. I also run because I enjoy feeling fit, I enjoy running, and I enjoy how I feel the rest of the day after a run.

And now, the twist: A 4 mile run for me burns around 550 calories. That’s equivalent to more than one regular meal for me. To put that into perspective, that’s the same amount of calories as a Big Mac. I eat two eggs and two/three slices of bacon for breakfast which comes to 275 calories. So basically, I’m wiping out the calories I take in for breakfast and about 2/3 of lunch. So, that logic says it should help me lose weight, right? Well sure; very simply, calories in minus calories out/used. If the calories in are fewer than used, then we lose weight. So exercise helps. But it’s not an end-all to lose weight.

Can you lose weight through exercise and eating like crap? Sure, if you exercise enough (and by enough, I mean A LOT). Can you lose weight by eating well without exercise? Absolutely, and in my opinion, it’s MUCH easier this way. The best is to use both; diet and exercise.

To assume that I have lost weight because I run is erroneous. It’s an easy trap for people to fall into based on the bad information we’ve been fed for the past 30 years by our government. The new research over the past 5 years or so has solidly shown that diet is more important, and that the food we eat is directly responsible for our obesity epidemic, and the cure is to eat well. Exercise helps get you fit, but won’t necessarily make you lose weight.