Hobbies and activities

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One of my RC airplanes, a custom-painted Hungarian Fw190.

I was taught at a young age that hobbies are important for people to have. It gives you something to enjoy, to spend time doing that is pleasant and enjoyable, and that can even bring you together with other people who enjoy the same activity. I was encouraged as a child to grow in my hobbies, and I took on quite a few of them. I’ve had to give some of them up (stamp collecting) in favor of putting more of my energies into others (flying radio controlled aircraft). Why do I mention this as part of a health and fitness blog? Because having a hobby and engrossing myself in it has helped with me on my journey towards being healthy.

I’ve often said that one of my strategies in combating cravings is to find something to do. If a craving hits, and I am able to identify that it’s due to boredom more than it is from having not eaten enough at my previous meal, I find something to do. That something has to take all my mind’s concentration, so I will typically do something related to one of my hobbies. Whether that’s cleaning some firearms, servicing one of my RC aircraft, or cleaning or even smoking one of my pipes, it causes me to concentrate on the task at hand and makes me forget all about the craving. If the craving passes quickly (and it usually does), then I know that it was a boredom craving and as a bonus, I get to engage in an activity within a hobby I enjoy.

Not all hobbies are active. If scrap booking is your thing, then do that when you get hungry. You don’t even have to make a page; just go through some stamps or borders or plan out the next page. Just engaging in your hobby will make you forget all about eating. As a last resort, you can always go out and do some exercise. Nothing makes my hunger go away as fast or as efficiently as running even when I am legitimately hungry. I can count on losing any hunger or craving for at least the duration of the run and an extra 30-45 minutes. That’s typically long enough for me to make it to dinnertime with my wife.

If you don’t have a hobby, then find one. No, seriously. There’s got to be something you enjoy doing. Engage in that. Do some reading. Go down a rabbit hole on the Internet. Do something, but make sure it engages your mind. Your life will be richer for it (and healthier!).

What is keeping you from being the best you?

Don’t you just hate titles of posts like that? “The best you?” What the heck does that even mean, right? Well, I was just like you. I hated seeing stuff like that, and rarely would I click on it. I’m actually quite surprised you’re reading this now. Congratulations! But seriously, what does that mean? “The best you.” Isn’t that what we try to be by default? Well, I thought so, but I believe I was misleading myself (at best). I was definitely not being my best.

Now, before you go all Wyatt Earp on me, hear me out. I am, in no way, saying that being fat makes you a bad person. I am not implying that being thinner makes me a better person. I don’t think, in any way, shape, or form that your weight has any bearing on how good of a person you are, how smart you are, how hard you work, or how good you dance. With that said, being healthy has a huge effect on all of the above. Especially the dancing.

The best me is a person who is not only a good person who works hard, but is healthy and able to perform tasks necessary to take as much advantage of the things life has to offer. There are few things I can’t do based on physical limitations. I know, for instance, that I can’t do complex algebra; a man’s got to know his limitations. But I can run 5 miles, and I can do it in good time. In the event of a zombie outbreak, I can outrun them long enough to get to my guns. That will allow me to be the best me in a zombie apocalypse.

Why handicap yourself? Why limit yourself physically? Why shorten the amount of time you have on this blue marble floating in space? All of these things can be improved through diet and light exercise. And by light, I mean just take a walk every day for a little bit. 20 minutes should do. Just eat right, take a walk, and you will become the best you that you can be. You’re in the driver’s seat. Put it in gear, and step on the gas.

I never said it was easy. I said it was simple.

The difference between easy and simple: Easy is something that is accomplished without effort. Simple is something that has few things to understand. My weight loss is the result of a lot of hard work sticking to a simple diet: Meat, vegetables, and fruits. I know that for many people, that’s hard to do, and it was hard for me, too. I love pasta, bread, beans, rice, and lots of different cheeses. Cakes, desserts, chocolate and the list goes on. But what I decided was that I was more important than the food I ate. My life, comfort, and health were more important to me than any pleasure I got out of eating foods that were not good for me or my health.

I had to break up with sugar, grains, legumes, dairy, and foods with artificial sweeteners. These foods do more harm to me than any good, and aside from being delicious, were hurting me. The weight I gained after leaving active duty came so quickly that I now have stretch marks. How did I gain the weight so quickly? By eating foods that had lots of grains, sugar, and dairy in them.

We all do things that are difficult. We’ve all succeeded at things others perceive as difficult. Having self discipline and restraining yourself from eating foods that are flat-out harmful to you is not as hard as we make it out to be. We concentrate on the things we will be doing without, the things we can no longer eat when we should be concentrating on the things we can continue to eat. Heck, I’ve been exposed to so much more good food since going Paleo that I don’t miss the foods I no longer eat. Except good pizza. Damn, I miss good pizza. But I digress.

Everyone is always on the lookout for the quick and easy way to lose weight and get into shape. Well, the bad news is that it doesn’t exist, and any product or program that says it does is flat-out lying. There is no one system that is fast and easy. To get rid of weight and to get fit takes time and effort. The good news, and this is skipped over by so many fitness-based programs, is that weight loss is 90% diet. Heck, my weight loss was 100% diet alone. I haven’t lost a lot of weight since I started getting fit. I’ve lost waist size and I’ve gotten stronger, but I haven’t lost a lot of weight. I’ve traded fat for muscle and not much more since I started running. Just change your food, what you eat, and the changes your body will make will amaze you.

Will you lose 20 lbs in your first month? Maybe. Maybe not. There are many factors involved like how much weight you need to lose overall (I had to lose over 100 lbs, so losing 20 lbs in my first month wasn’t hard) and your current level of activity and fitness. Obviously, a man who is 165 lbs at 5’7″ won’t lose 20 lbs their first month of going Paleo. They’d be lucky to lose 5 lbs. But the bottom line is that you will lose a good percentage of weight initially and see a steady decline in your weight until your body reaches a point at which it is in equilibrium with the calories in versus the calories expended. Then, you can concentrate on fine-tuning that ratio to achieve the results you’re after.

It’s not easy. It takes time. But it is do-able, it is simple, and if you stick with it, the results will come faster than you imagined. And the way you feel when you are healthy and fit? I have a hard time putting that into words, so here are a few pictures.

 

Non-Scale Victories

NSV’s are what people call Non-Scale Victories on many health and fitness websites and forums. These are the things people look for to continue to motivate themselves when the scale fails to reward hard work, good eating habits, and exercise with a change. For the past two weeks, I’ve been looking to NSV’s as my weight has once again stalled.

I can’t say if it’s due to lack of eating enough or if I’m eating too much. I can’t think it’s eating too much as I do feel myself getting hungry an hour or so before my next meal. Perhaps that’s the problem. It’s possible that, once again, I’m not eating enough.

The NSV’s I’m holding on to are my waist size continues to hold at 31-32″, my shirt sizes are S-M, and the skin around my waist continues to shrink. After a run, my arms, legs, and torso look amazing and vascular. It’s hard to believe how big I was just a year ago.

Another NSV is that I’ve kept off a considerable amount of weight for a long time. Heck, for almost a year, I’ve kept 100 lbs off. That’s a big accomplishment! I’m still enjoying the Paleo lifestyle and there is no inclination on my part to look elsewhere for my diet. I enjoy the flavor of the food, the satiety, and the variety. Being able to adapt to a new lifestyle and getting rid of foods that are bad for me has been a really huge accomplishment!

Feeling great all the time is an NSV that is often overlooked. I feel great, I am fit, and I see continuous improvement in my health and fitness. A measurable, or tangible measure of my fitness are my run times, and they have been improving. Also, the number of push ups I can do are increasing all the time: another NSV I’m proud of.

So, the scale is not being nice to me. That’s okay. I’m finding a lot to be happy about elsewhere. When the scale does finally reward me again, I’ll be happy, but in the meantime, I’ll take my NSV’s where I can get them.

Good Eats

Once again, Sherry made some really amazing food for us this weekend.

Our Daily Bacon

E.J. is always saying on Paleo Marine that the secret to sticking with Paleo is the tasty meals.  I happen to agree with him, and while I certainly enjoy looking forward to a tried and true favorite dish, I do enjoy trying new things and blazing new culinary trails.

This weekend, I ventured into the world of cast iron cooking, and found two new favorites to add to the list:

  • Paleo Fruit Crisp – This month’s Paleo Magazine has a recipe for a skillet fruit crisp that I modified to use up some of those lovely strawberries and blueberries I mentioned in my last post.  The resulting dish was not only delicious, but very pretty, and held up well to a dollop of coconut milk ice cream.  I’ll post the steps I used in another post this week.
  • Caveboy Casserole – This gem from Our Paleo Life (minus the olives)…

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If you really want to be healthy, eat healthy (and exercise)

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Yummy Paleo salmon, coleslaw, and caulirice.

It’s all about the food. Seriously. It’s as simple as that. If you put good, whole foods into your body, your body will be healthier. If you put crap into your body, guess what? There’s no magic to turn it into good stuff.

Sugar? Horrible.

Grains? Not good.

Soy? Not good.

Dairy? Not good.

What is good for you? Meat, vegetables, and fruits (within reason). Will this keep you from catching a cold, acquiring a disease, or succumbing to a pre-existing condition? Of course not. What it will do, however, is give your body the best chance it has to fight off illness and disease. When your body needs strength to fight, it will have it. Why do you think doctors of patients fighting life-threatening issues insist upon healthy diets? (Of course, the definition of a healthy diet may be of concern as many older physicians are unaware of the latest research and trends in nutrition).

My wife and I both found that we get sick less since going Paleo. Whenever I have an injury, it seems to heal faster. My body is reacting to the world around it in a much more youthful manner than it has for many years. That’s not counting the benefits from running and exercise.

I’m 49 years old, and I’m in the National Guard. I run with kids who were often born after I first enlisted in the Marine Corps. I am able to keep up with (and often even pass them on the runs!) these young people because I eat right and exercise. I’m asked often how I do it. I tell them it’s simple: eat good food and don’t neglect your body by being sedentary. Get up, exercise, and live life. Be active, get outside, and move. It doesn’t take much.