It’s never too late to start.

I see people I know just now starting their journey to better eating and exercise, and it makes me smile. I am so happy for them! More than that, I’m proud of them. I know how hard it is to get started after years of living without eating right or exercise. I know all the tricks your mind plays on you; the doubts, the lack of motivation, and the fears. I felt them all. At some point, these people said, “ENOUGH!” and decided to start living healthy.

I’m almost 50. Someone asked me, “Why bother? You’re going to die soon anyway.” Well, maybe THEY are going to die soon anyway, but when I do, it won’t be because I let my health go. I will die kicking and screaming. There are no guarantees, but I am doing everything I can to be healthy and fit. It’s never too late to start. I’d rather have fewer quality years of life than another 20 or 30 without mobility, without energy, and without the ability to experience life to the fullest.

I am currently on vacation in Spain, and there has been NOTHNG I couldn’t do because of any physical limitation. I can climb stairs, ladders, walk all day, and then do it all again the following day without any pain. I don’t get winded on long walks up steep hills. I can carry my heavy bags up two flights of stairs and it’s really not a hardship. It feels AMAZING to be this free and fit! The best part is that I still have a long way to go in my own fitness, so I’m only going to get stronger!

Don’t put off getting fit or healthy because you think the best years of your life are behind you. They are only behind you if you don’t take  your life back and eat right and get fit. The things you can do when you’re not overweight is astonishing. I forgot just how awesome it is to be alive and able to do whatever you want without physical limitations. You can do this!

Making tough decisions regarding foods

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Sherry and I standing in front of a wall of ham at the Museo de Jammon in Madrid, Spain

Today, I’ve been good in regards to eating properly. Well, until I had that one candied orange with chocolate on it. But otherwise, I’ve been eating the right foods in the right amounts. I am doing my best. Honestly. But I’m not sacrificing my experience by avoiding everything. I just avoid eating everything at once.

I’ve been walking a lot. Later today or tomorrow morning, I’ll have my first run since going on vacation that will (hopefully) be the first of many runs. I’m really looking forward to it. I climb stairs when I can, and I try to make sure I’m as active as possible within the framework of our vacation and our friends.

Today at lunch, there were so many foods I wanted to eat and try, but I know we are going out tonight to have Paella, and since that has rice and probably some other things in it that aren’t Paleo, I held back. I decided to stick with chorizo and some boiled potatoes. The weird part: it filled me up. The amount was actually quite small, but I felt not only sated, but really satisfied with the flavors. Spain is proving to be a culinary cornucopia of unimaginable proportions. Truly friendly people, beautiful sights, and delicious foods.

It would be easy to over-eat or to eat foods that aren’t Paleo-friendly here. The bakeries are stocked full of stuff I would love to try, but honestly, I can do without. I do try a few things here and there with just a bite or a taste, but nothing more. And I’m okay with that. It’s a balance and I’m learning to live with it.

Food Choices on Vacation (in Spain

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The pastries of Spain are utterly amazing!

So far in Spain, the food choices have been actually pretty Paleo-friendly with a few notable exceptions. While the ham and bacon we’ve been eating have been Paleo-friendly, there have been times I’ve allowed myself to eat non-Paleo foods. Exceptions thus far have been Churros with Hot Chocolate at San Gines (a must do!), a croissant on the plane for breakfast (I left the yogurt and granola), some bread at two meals so far, and a few pieces of chocolate. We’ve been doing an incredible amount of walking each day, and I’ve been very selective in what I allow myself to eat that is not Paleo. I don’t know if I’m gaining any weight, but my clothes still fit the same, the belt holes I use are still the same, and my wedding ring is still loose.

I continue to try to make good food decisions as much as I can without missing out on any unique experiences. I think that there is a balance, and I feel like I’ve been finding that balance well. Looking around at the local Spanish population, they are a trim group. There isn’t as much obesity here as there is in the US. For that matter, it’s difficult to find people who are overweight, and even when I do find them, I hear them speaking English or German. Go figure. The food here is inherently far healthier than our foods back home in the US. The portions are smaller, sides that consist of grains or lots of carbs are actually very small compared to the meat/main course, and even desserts are not nearly as sweet as they are in the US. It explains why people here aren’t so large.

 

We are really enjoying our trip, and the food has been a big part of that. It’s tough sometimes to not just eat without abandon, but in picking and choosing the foods I eat, I’m finding that I still get to taste unique foods and I’m also maintaining a healthier eating pattern. I’ve yet to run here, however, and that is causing me some mental anguish. We are on our way to Barcelona, and I plan on running within 24 hours of arriving there. Whether that will be tonight or tomorrow morning is uncertain, but it will happen. I did 60 push ups in our AirBNB flat last night, and I will do more again the next time I run. I can’t let my run times get too slow; I have physical fitness tests to pass and troops to lead.

Am I a PaleoSoldier now, too?

img_4359aI’ve been asked a few times already since yesterday if I’m going to change my site’s name to PaleoSoldier since I’m now a soldier in the Army National Guard. The short answer is no. I was an active duty Marine for 11 years, and that will always be a large part of who I am. I will take my experience and knowledge from those 11 years with me to the National Guard and I will utilize it to the best of my ability to be the best solider I can possibly be. I will now also be a citizen soldier, a member of the oldest military service of our nation. I will be part of a long tradition of citizens who train and keep themselves ready for the call from our country. I am very proud of my service in the Marines, and I am equally proud of my service in the National Guard.

So, while I am PaleoMarine, I guess I’m now also PaleoSoldier. Or PaleoGuard. Or PaleoCitizenSoldier. Well, you get the picture. Ultimately, I’m E.J., a guy who was a Marine, got fat, got fit, and then became a National Guard soldier.Call me whatever you want, but don’t call me late for a good, hearty Paleo dinner.

Eating within the plan is very effective for weight loss. I know; it’s working for me

All week, I’ve been eating nothing but home-made food. Everything I’ve put into my body this week was made by my wife or me. The result? I’ve hit my lowest measured weight since active duty three weigh-ins in a row. 172.2 lbs. This is great, as my weight has typically been fluctuating +/- 2 lbs over the past few weeks as it trended lower. This time, it seems I’m set for another block of lost weight.

When I was losing weight more steadily and quickly, I would notice my weight stop at a certain point for a few days before shedding a few pounds. This was a trend I discovered after four months and it continued for about 8 months thereafter. I haven’t seen this with my weight for around five months, so to be seeing it again now is very motivating.

Analyzing my intake, I have been eating only home cooked foods, and even then, slightly larger portions. Each day has been:

Breakfast

Two eggs, sunny-side up
Three slices of bacon (no salt/sugar added)

Lunch

Meat Loaf/9 meatballs with Chipotle sauce/Shepherd’s pie
Side of either broccoli, sweet potato, or cauliflower rice

Dinner

Two deviled eggs
Meat Loaf/9 meatballs with Chipotle sauce/Shepherd’s pie
Side of either broccoli, sweet potato, or cauliflower rice
Paleo Almond Joy

As you can see, my dinner was slightly larger, but just a bit. This amount seems to be the right amount for my body and has allowed for me to start losing weight again. I’m hoping to be in the 160’s soon. Then, my final goal will be in view!

Melt stubborn fat? Really? (Short answer: nope)

When scrolling through Facebook, it’s hard to avoid ads that are targeted to your interests. Since I write and post a lot about health and fitness, I find many of the ads targeted to me are fitness related. One that made me chuckle was an ad for a video that allegedly helps “Melt stubborn fat.” So much wrong with that sentence.

First, it’s marketing BS. They want you to believe that through exercises they show you how to do in this video you pay money for, you will finally be able to get rid of fat that you’ve been unable to get rid of through any other means. They’re promising a quick and easy fix through exercise.

Second, they are perpetuating the myth that fat melts off the body. No, it doesn’t. That’s not how weight loss works.

Third, you can’t target fat areas of the body. You can’t do sit ups until the fat goes away on your stomach while it remains everywhere else. That’s not how losing fat works. Fat goes away at an even rate spread across your body. Period.

Fourth, and this is the most important fallacy, is that there is no mention of diet. Diet is what makes you lose weight, or in their parlance, fat. Exercise will make you stronger, but diet makes you lose weight. Watch what you put into your body and your weight will respond accordingly. Feed it pizza, burgers, and beer and your weight will hold steady or continue to increase. Feed it a reasonable amount of meat, veggies, and fruits and you will lose weight or get to a point at which your body will equalize to the input of calories.

Don’t fall for the hype. There’s only one way to lose weight: eat good food in the right amounts. Exercise helps your heart and muscles get stronger, but it’s the quality and amount of food you eat that regulates your weight. I don’t care if you don’t do a Whole30 or go Paleo like I did. If you take away only one thing from me and my blog, it should be this (and I’m repeating it here because it’s so important):

Exercise helps your heart and muscles get stronger, but it’s the quality and amount of food you eat that regulates your weight.

Progress Pictures Catch Attention and Motivate

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2014 vs 2017. Same spot, same chair, same me (minus 138 lbs).

My credentials don’t matter to anyone who wants to lose weight and get healthy if I can’t walk the walk. That’s why it’s so important for me to post progress pictures. If I weighed 300 lbs yet I was telling people how to get healthy and lose weight, why would they trust me if I couldn’t follow the advice myself? The same is true had I never been over 200 lbs: I wouldn’t be able to understand the difficulties in not only the physical aspect of losing weight, but also the psychological and mental hardships related to weight loss. By showing my fat picture next to a current picture, people immediately can see that I’m not talking from outside the circle of knowledge as it pertains to being a big person who wants to lose weight. I’m not just talking the talk; I’ve walked the walk.

The other reason I post progress pictures is for motivation. Partly to motivate others, and partly to motivate myself. Even 17 months later, I still need to see the old pictures to remind me of not only how far I’ve come, but what happens when I allow myself to live without restraint or limits. It’s a place I never want to return to. I never want to feel the way I felt back then. Being tired, feeling embarrassed, being unable to buy clothing off the rack, being unable to go up a flight of stairs without getting winded, having tingling pain in my extremities due to poor circulation, etc. These are all things I work to avoid, and seeing my fat self is a stark reminder of how easy it is to slip into obesity.

There are a few people who feel that my progress pictures are gloating. They feel like I’m “Shoving my weight loss in their faces” and that I’m too proud of myself. First, I’m not shoving anything in anyone’s faces. If you see the pictures, it’s because you actively searched for them or are a subscriber to this blog. Second, I am proud of myself. I did something I set out to do. It was something difficult, and I overcame. It’s something many people (including myself) struggle with, and yet, I did it. I’m not bragging, and I’m not being excessively prideful. It’s a healthy sense of accomplishment. I believe that I’ve earned it.

So there you have it: why I post progress pictures as often as I do. I know I’m not the most handsome guy in the world, but I think I’m at least not some hideous CHUD. I hope.