How did a 6 oz steak get to be enough?

When I would go to a steak house to eat while at my heavy weight, I would typically order the largest steak I could get (without going broke). This meant an 11 or 12 oz steak at a minimum. Oh, and there would be lots of bread before the meal, a large salad, and baked potato and perhaps some mushrooms and onions on top. Then, maybe a crumble or bread pudding for dessert. And this one one meal.

Today, a typical meal for me at a steak house is a Caesar salad with no croutons, a 6 oz filet medium rare with a baked sweet potato and butter (unsweetened). I may have 6 grilled shrimp added to the order depending on how hungry I am. But for the most part, this fills me up. When I leave, my stomach feels full and my hunger is sated.

What happened to allow me to feel so satisfied after such a meager meal as compared to my former meals? A few things.

First, I no longer eat sugar which curtails my cravings. When I go to eat food, I am no longer in OMG I MUST EAT ALL THE THINGS I’M SO HUNGRY mode. Now, I eat to fuel my body. That the food is delicious is a bonus. I’ve eaten plenty of bland or not-so-awesome meals just to put fuel into my body, and I’m totally okay with that, too.

Second, the food I eat now is more filling than in the past. Bread, which is hyper-nutritious, doesn’t quite fill me up the same way a steak does, so it’s easy to eat too much of it and get a metric ton of calories*.

Third, I eat slower. Not as slow as some of my friends (looking at you, Kenny!) but I try to eat smaller pieces which makes eating take longer to give my body a chance to adjust to the food that’s being put into my body and for it to give me the sensation of no longer being hungry.

Fourth, my stomach is now smaller. It holds less as I’ve learned to eat proper serving sizes. I fill up quicker now eating more protein, and the reduced capacity of my stomach allows me to fill up quicker.

It’s nice to be able to eat normal portions and actually feel full afterward and not feel hungry again two hours later.

* I know it’s not a metric ton. But it seems like it.

Friday Paleo-friendly lunches with friends and the constant struggle of portion size

On Fridays, I usually have lunch with some friends as we celebrate the end of the work week and the beginning of the weekend. We typically go to Logan’s Roadhouse or Saltgrass Steak House. At these two places, I can order a very Paleo-friendly 6oz Filet steak with a baked sweet potato with regular butter. As my pre-meal food, I usually order a Caesar salad with no croutons and I pull most of the cheese off of it and set it to the side. I know that the Caesar dressing is probably not the most Paleo-friendly, but it’s a small indulgence I allow myself once a week.

When we don’t eat steak, we go to Mexican restaurants where I can order some type of fajitas with grilled onions or grilled mixed vegetables. The looks on the faces of the wait staff as I tell them I don’t need beans, rice, or tortillas is always pretty hilarious.

It is possible to eat lunch at restaurants that are Paleo-friendly. Most restaurants have some sort of meat and vegetable option unless you’re at a sandwich shop (in which case you might just have to eat a salad). I’ve had to ask for something off the menu only once, and even then, it was only a slight change.

Incidentally, today’s lunch marks an important turning point for me: I didn’t eat my entire sweet potato. I have a hard time not eating an entire sweet potato because they are so delicious to me. I often eat the whole potato which makes me feel over-fed. Today, I stopped short of eating the whole thing, leaving about 1/4 of it on the plate. I felt full and decided that I was only going to finish it for the sake of how much I liked eating them, and that wasn’t good enough. Three hours later, I feel sated and actually, I feel great about having not eaten the whole thing.

You’d think that by now, 16 months after staring my Paleo journey, I would have had this licked by now, but you’d be wrong. Sweet potatoes have been my Achilles heel. It’s one of the very few foods that, while Paleo, I have a hard time controlling myself over. Sherry is very good about only giving me one half of a sweet potato with any meal we eat, but if I’m left to my own devices, I’ll grab an entire sweet potato. It’s not good for me to eat the entire potato with a regular-sized portion, so I typically compensate by getting less protein to go along with it, but not always.

When you have a bad relationship with food, you have to always remain vigilant. The fight never ends, and you must always be looking not only at what you eat, but also how much you eat. For me, the struggle is real, and I’m always learning something new about myself and how to control my relationship with food. I feel good about today’s victory and I will cling to it to push me into the future.

Slow and steady wins the race: We’ve heard it before, but do we really do it?

Slow and steady wins the race. We hear it time and time again. Tortoise and hare. It’s a concept taught to us since kindergarten. But do we really live it? Do we really embrace why it’s so important?

In our high-tech modern culture, we want everything right now. Yesterday isn’t soon enough. People get impatient after 2.3 seconds when clicking a hyperlink online. If it takes longer than 2.3 seconds, the majority of persons who clicked that link will either scroll on or click another. We are an impatient people. That works against us in many ways.

I am only going to concentrate on diet and exercise here. When I set out to lose weight and get healthy, I set some pretty aggressive goals for myself. I wanted to lose 20 lbs the first month, and 50 lbs total four months later. The crazy part is that I was able to do it. That wasn’t a good thing, though, because it could have set me up for disappointment and failure later.

You see, when I weighed nearly 300 lbs, it was easy for me to lose a lot of weight quickly because the weight I was losing was actually pretty small compared to my total weight. When you weigh 290 lbs, 20 lbs isn’t that much. When you weigh 173, 20 lbs is a lot! As I was losing weight at a rate of 10 lbs per month, it felt like it was taking forever. I weigh myself every morning, and seeing the weight fluctuate as it went on its downward trend ever so slowly was, at times, a little disappointing. However, upon reviewing those trends at the end of each month and finding I had lost the 10 lbs was always a great feeling.

And then it stopped.

My weight hovered around 177 for a very long time. Months, in fact. I had the toughest time reaching my penultimate goal of 175 lbs, and my ultimate goal of 165 lbs was beginning to feel like it was going to be out of reach. But, through the long plateau, I persisted. I kept eating right, and I introduced exercise into my regimen.

Even after five months of exercise, I managed to only lose about 2-3 lbs (depending on which average weight I used as a starting point). It wasn’t until last week that I finally dipped into the 173 range. This is a big deal for me, as it means I’m finally making progress again on the scale, and the hard work is paying off.

So, what changed? Nothing, really. Just perseverance. I decided that I didn’t want to engage in any drastic activity to try to drop any weight because any weight lost that way would be temporary. I needed to lose it naturally in a way that would be sustainable in the long run and in keeping with my lifestyle. I made a mental picture of this last block of weight being a huge piece of errant stone on a statue. I was the artist holding the chisel working to get the errant stone off without damaging the work I’d done so far on the statue. I knew at some point, the errant stone would fall away, and it seems it finally has.

With that said, I have been seeing changes in my body that haven’t been reflected on the scale. My waist has shrunk as has my face. My cheeks are deeper, and my fitness levels are soaring. I’m running sub-9 minute miles regularly now, and I find myself able to do physical tasks without exertion or minimal effort. It’s truly amazing how rejuvenated I feel as a 49 year old man. I can only imagine how someone in their 20’s or 30’s would feel after losing the amount of weight I’ve lost and begun a fitness program.

It’s taken me a long time to get where I am at today, but at the same time, it feels like it happened in a moment. That’s the tricky thing about time, effort, and delayed gratification. While you’re going through the transition, it feels like it’s taking forever. But then you finish, and you realize that the time and effort were well worth it. For me, the journey never ends, but at this spot on the road I find myself on, I’m very happy with the results so far, and I am optimistic for the future. I can’t wait to see where I’m at by September. How fast I’m running, what I weigh, how many push ups I’m doing, and what other fitness or exercise I’ve added to my routine. I have no firm goals other than eventually reaching 165 lbs. All in good time. It’s been a great ride so far.

What a great morning and full of good (and big) news!


I wrote yesterday on my running blog about how I wasn’t looking forward to a run because I felt worn out, tired, and just unmotivated. I went ahead and ran anyway and it turned out to be one of my best runs in terms of how I felt. Sure, it’s not easy, and there is struggle involved, but the amount of effort I put forth was solid but not so much that I felt I was going to die at any point, and better yet, when I finished the run, I felt great without serious muscle pain. Sure, there was the post-run burn, but even still, it wasn’t horrible.

I am a light runner. I run three times a week for about 30-40 minutes each time. I know, to be a serious runner, you’re supposed to run 5-6 times a week for an hour each time, but I just don’t want to do that (yet). I have been avoiding injury and shin splints by running one day and resting the next, so I’m going to continue on this plan for the time being. Also, the motivation for my runs are the following:

  • Get my cardio three times a week for at least 30 minutes (check!)
  • Build up slowly without injury (check!)
  • Bring my run times down for the two-mile run Army PRT (check!)

The final point is huge. For my age, I am now in the top third (1st class) of the Army physical readiness test classifications which is a goal of mine. Why does that matter to an old Marine? Because I’ve been accepted to rejoin the military. I’ll be joining the Army National Guard and swearing in within the week. Yes, even at my old age, because of all my active duty time, I will be able to join the National Guard and complete my 20 years of service toward retirement by the time I’m 60. This is great news because that means my 12 years of Marine Corps active duty service will not go to waste. This is exciting! As for my run times and physical readiness tests, I never want anyone to be able to say I’m not physically able to do the job. I also found that I’m well beyond the requirement for push ups (so I will max that out) and I am close to maxing out sit ups. This is all part of what made this morning great; realizing how far I’ve come in the past five months toward making this all a reality.

People my age tell me that I am inspiring them through my example. That makes me feel great, because I feel that we are not too old to be in shape! We are not to old to be healthy! We can feel young, energized, and capable at our age! It just takes eating right and getting outside for a little bit a few times a week. I did it, and I’m not the type of person who loves exercise. I enjoy running now, but I’m not a gym rat. I don’t LOVE working out and pushing myself (but I love making good, solid progress even if it’s slower than what other people do or have done). What I do love, however, is how capable and fit I feel all the time now. Climb some stairs? No problem. Walk a few miles? Easy. Help lift something heavy? I’m in! I am no longer limited by being fat and out of shape.

Life-changing diets: Whole30 and Paleo


In September 2015, we set out to change our lives and to get healthy. Our short-term goal was to lose weight, while our long-term goal was to adopt a lifestyle that would keep us healthy, keep our weight down, and allow us to do so while enjoying delicious and filling foods. We never thought it would actually work, yet here we are.

It’s not that we were pessimists. To the contrary, we were both very optimistic. But we are realists, and every other “Diet” had failed us before. Even increased exercise wasn’t enough to put a dent into our weight. So you can understand why we had misgivings. What we didn’t have was an understanding of just how important it is to eat right to maintain a healthy weight. We didn’t realize just how much of our weight depends on our food intake.

It seems like common sense enough, yet how many people do you know who are always dieting, always trying to eat in moderation, or working out at the gym 6 days as week only to never get close to what they would consider an ideal weight? I know lots of people like that. Sherry and I were two of them. We couldn’t keep doing that anymore.

Whole30 and Paleo saved us. It’s not hyperbole. Our lives have been forever changed for the better because of these two. I know people who have been successful at losing weight using similar carb-restricted diets, and others who do their own version, so it’s possible that we would have stumbled upon something similar ourselves. But, as I’ve said before, Paleo is just the name for how we eat. We have not begun wearing bear skins and hunting with spears. Yet.

Get past the name or any negative information you may have read or heard. Whole30 and Paleo really do work, and really can change your life in a great way. It transformed us into the people we always wanted to be. Life is so different now; it’s as if I’m living in someone else’s body. The changes are dramatic and positive.

Annoyed with Bad Eating and the Resulting Weight Gain


Over the past four days, I’ve eaten way too much and also ate food that is definitely not Paleo. This was due to a few things including celebrating Valentine’s early with my wife, an evening out with friends, or a special lunch with co-workers. What is unusual for me, however, is that all these events took place within a four-day period. What that has done is made me pick up about 5 lbs of weight. It makes me highly irritable and angry at myself.

I know. Treats every now and then are necessary. We have to enjoy ourselves. I get it, I understand it, and heck, I even recommend it to others. However, doing so four days in a row is really too much. Now, my body is paying for it.

If it were due to a lack of discipline or me falling off the wagon, so to speak, I guess I’d have more reason to be upset. However, this really is a case of eating foods that I normally don’t eat in circumstances I’m normally not in. So I should go easy on myself. At least that’s what Sherry says.


What makes me worry more, however, is that I have a trip to Spain coming up in two weeks. I’ll be wanting to (and will likely) eat a lot of foods for the sake of the adventure and new experiences. I worry that I will eat too much and in turn, will gain weight.

I know. It’s a vacation. You gotta live and experience everything. But I have to keep reminding myself that there is more to a vacation and a new place beyond its food and alcohol. I have to tell myself to be reasonable even as I try new foods. It’ll be tough, but I have to do it. If I’ve learned anything over the past year it’s that my body will gain weight very quickly with minimal changes in my diet. I’m fighting to get back down to my pre-weekend weight, and every day longer it takes me to get back to it is another day where I’m cranky about it.

Fortunately, I know that through eating well, getting enough sleep, and staying active, the weight will come off. It just takes time. I just hate waiting to get back down to a weight I had already reached. There’s nothing worse than having to re-do the work, but not doing it is completely unacceptable.

Paleo Pancakes? Heck yes! And they’re DELICIOUS!


This is what my breakfast looked like on Saturday: Paleo pancakes and bacon with some coffee. Notice that I use real organic maple syrup. I don’t slather it all over, but I do have it on there, and it’s enough to add the sweet maple flavor without going overboard. It’s really delicious, and a great (and dandy) way to start the Saturday.

One of the reasons people fall off the eating healthy wagon is because they miss foods they used to eat that were not good for their health. For me, pancakes was one of those foods. Sherry has been experimenting with recipes and has come across one that is made from scratch while we also found another that is literally a mix you can buy either on Amazon or at Sprout’s that you just need to add water to (I think). These taste like real pancakes to me, and they really help keep me from missing these special foods. Adding blueberries to them really transforms them into a next-level experience. I love ’em!

Paleo isn’t boring. It’s filled with great tasting foods that are good for your health. A lot of these foods are substitutes for foods that are bad for your health and these help keep you on the right path. There are many recipes and cook books available, both online and for purchase.

Eating for your health versus eating healthy food

yawyeNot many people know there’s a difference between eating for your health and healthy food. The definition of healthy food varies depending upon whom you ask. Someone who believes in a low-fat diet will tell you that whole grains are healthy. Someone who does WeightWatchers will say that everything is healthy in moderation. Adkins adherents will say low-carb is healthy. Someone who has adopted the Paleo lifestyle will tell you that foods containing grains, sugar, dairy, beans, and soy are unhealthy, and that meat, vegetables, and fruits are healthy. All these people miss the mark of what we really need to focus on: eat for your health.

We all have different genetic makeups. Upon reading countless articles by people who have done a Whole30, it is evidently clear that certain foods are bad for everyone while other foods are only bad to people of specific genetic backgrounds. Some people do okay with limited dairy or beans while others do not. The key is that people find what their bodies respond well to, what makes them feel energetic, and what fuels them the most efficiently. That’s what a Whole30 is about for me. Finding what fuels our bodies in the healthiest, most efficient way possible.

Eating healthy food is a trap. Even for those of us whose goal is to eat for our health, it’s possible to eat too much or to allow unhealthy ingredients to creep in over time. I even went the opposite direction: for months, I wasn’t eating enough. I was eating healthy food, but I wasn’t eating for my health. I was’t listening to my body: I had slight persistent hunger, my energy levels were declining, and my weight loss stopped completely. I wasn’t making progress in running (I had hit a wall in my pace), and the runs were getting progressively difficult without increasing distance or pace.

Listen to your body. Don’t get caught in the trap of eating healthy food. Eat food for your health. Find what works and what doesn’t by doing a Whole30. It’ll be one of the hardest things you’ve done, but what you learn from it will benefit you for the rest of your life.

Such a little extra food, but the weight gain is big (not in proportion to the weight of the food). What gives?

It’s the strangest thing. I ate lots of sugary foods this past weekend and yesterday, I had a bigger than normal dinner. So this morning, at my daily weigh-in, I weighed a good 5 lbs more than I did on Saturday morning. I just shook my head and continued on with my morning routine. I know I didn’t eat THAT much more. The only explanation for it is that it has to be retained water.

After doing a  little reading, I learned something that astounded me:

It is true that excess salt in the diet can aggravate fluid retention, but sugar is more likely to cause the fluid retention in the first place. Sugar is a carbohydrate, and all carbohydrates, if consumed in excess can promote fluid retention. This is because sugar promotes your pancreas to release insulin. Source

Wow. So that makes SO much sense. I tend to retain fluids after drinking alcohol, eating sweets, or eating carbs. Now I understand why. It also makes me feel better. These gains are temporary, and my weight should stabilize and get back down to the new norm within the next few days.

Until then, I’ll be eating very carefully and avoiding any and all sugar or carbs. I know it’s not all about the scale, but when it’s out of whack, I tend to get a bit grumpy.

Turning up the flavor, Paleo style

More great recipes and meal successes to share from my wife Sherry’s blog, Our Daily Bacon. You should check these recipes out and give them a try!

Our Daily Bacon

Now that we’re back to our regularly scheduled Paleo program, it’s time to turn up the flavor and get back to a little more creativity in the kitchen.

The last 2 Sunday prep days have been adventures in finding new flavors and more Paleo analogues to help diversify our diet and enjoy some of the old foods we used to love in new ways.

  • Primal Cannelloni al Forno – This is an original adaptation of the old Olive Garden dish my mom and I used to eat regularly.  It’s been off the menu a long time now, but I have a copy of the recipe that I adapted to follow primal guidelines (I didn’t remove the cheese, but did reduce the quantity a bit)  Funny thing is I used to think this recipe was just too much work to make regularly – but since all of my dishes typically now…

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