The photo on the left was taken of me in 1998 about a year after I got out of the Marine Corps. I was working for Compaq at the time as a technical trainer travelling around the country. I was in Chicago on business and stopped in to visit my aunt and my cousin when we took the photo on the left. It is one of the earliest photos I have of me at a heavier weight without a beard.
Fast forward to 2017, and I now weigh less than I did when I left the Marines and I’m in the best shape of my life since going to boot camp. I have less hair now, and it’s turned a bit gray on the lower sides, but in every other way, I look much healthier. I didn’t say thinner because that’s not the point.
I’m happiest most with my transformation from someone who was living an unhealthy and unfit lifestyle to someone who is healthy and fit. I don’t know if there’s any way to quantify adding years to my life, but in all honesty, the quality of my life has improved so much that even if I still have the same number of years left, at least they will be active, comfortable, and healthy years. It’s worth the effort.
I have heard from people sheepishly admit to me that they had fallen off the Paleo wagon. The reasons for these folks vary, but here are a few of the things I’ve heard.
Too much stress in their life; stress eating took over.
Too much temptation at workplace.
Partner/spouse not supportive and eating non-Paleo.
Family pressure to eat the same as them.
Inability to cut ties with sugar.
Inability to get away from eating beans, sweetened drinks, desserts, snacks, candy, etc.
Those are just a few of the things I’ve heard, but they are the most common.
I will never judge anyone for not being Paleo or for even falling off the wagon. We all have our own unique journey in life to travel, and what is best for me and my journey may very well not be the best for anyone else. I don’t know your circumstances, stresses, or pressures. I try to give advice, motivation, and tools to combat the obstacles faced, but I can’t give everyone answers to every situation because for every 100 I can think of, there’s another 100 more I didn’t. Or couldn’t.
We all face struggles. We all have obstacles to defeat, and we have to make decisions as to which obstacles we clear, which we destroy, and which we avoid entirely. Sometimes, it’s overwhelming, and eating well is the obstacle that is avoided. That’s fine, and again, we all make decisions that we feel are in our best interest. If that’s the case, then deal with your other issues and obstacles, defeat them, and then when you’re ready, try again.
Failure doesn’t define you. Everyone fails. What defines you is how you handle the failure. Do you let it rest, or do you get up, brush yourself off, and hit the ground running again? If you’re on this side of the dirt, you’ve got another chance to try again. Use it wisely, learn from your past, and take that knowledge with you and try again.
Two weeks ago, I was approached by five men who I fly RC airplanes with, and I was told that I played a large role in being the impetus for change in their diets and lifestyles to become healthier. The majority of them have gone Paleo or some variety of it while a few have just started watching their food quality and quantity and have started exercising. Each of them have lost a significant amount of weight as compared to their starting weight, and I was very humbled by them. It felt great to have been a force for good in the lives of these men.
When I started this blog, I did so because I had so much to say and I felt the need to get it out without bugging my friends and co-workers incessantly about the evils of sugar and the benefits of good, clean eating (and Paleo). The blog allowed me to spew every time I had something to get out, kind of like a release valve on a pressure vessel. As time went on, people began asking me questions, and it helped me tailor the content a bit to develop it into what it is now.
I try to give motivation and inspiration where I can. I know that this weight loss journey is only made easier with a partner or help from the outside, and I hope to be that help. Once we reach the point where we have given up on all the hype and promises of the different fad diets and products out there, we turn to the most basic. That’s where Whole30 and Paleo come in. There are no gimmicks or tricks here. Whole30 is designed to be followed for (you may have guessed it) 30 days while Paleo is meant to be adopted for life (and it’s easy to do once you get past your hang-ups about no longer eating grains, beans, dairy, and anything with added sugar or artificial sweeteners).
Nearly all my friends have adopted Paleo in some way. Some are stricter than others, but all agree that they’ve seen very positive effects from the Paleo diet. It feels great to be around them and not have to worry that they think my food is weird because the bread was made with almond flour instead of grains. But when people you are only acquainted with follow your lead based on your example and a few quick talks about your lifestyle? That feels really special.
The same goes for this blog. I’m always humbled and very flattered when someone online tells me that my blog has helped them in their journey. It’s like a small flag I get to place in my heart that tells me that I’ve done some good for someone, somewhere. It matters. Thank you to those who have let me know that I’ve helped you in some way. It means a lot.
I need to be better with this. I have been pre-posting pretty much everything on this blog for the past few months which gives me the flexibility of missing a day or two here and there as life gets busy without missing a day of new content here on PaleoMarine.com. However, that sometimes leads to some weird posts that seem out of order compared to my running blog or with previous live-posted entries. Case in point: Tuesday’s post (which is today for me, but last week when this goes live). The post that was published talked about how I had lost 4 lbs and that I ran two days before and would be running again that afternoon. Well, I ran yesterday (in the rain!) and I will not be running today.
I will be making more of an effort to live-blog those things that are immediate and worthy of going out immediately, versus content that is more general and can wait to be pushed out at a later time. This should be seamless to everyone out there, and truth be told, I may be the only person this bothers, but it’s the little things. Attention to detail is a big thing to Marines.
Fourteen years ago today, I married my best friend, the lady I was in love with, and an amazing and supportive partner. What I never expected was how deep our relationship would become; how much we would support each other, how much stronger our love would grow for each other, and how much of our relationship has grown into a partnership.
Throughout our marriage, Sherry has always been my number one cheerleader. Whenever I needed a kick in the pants, she was there to give it. When I needed a shoulder to rest my head on, hers was there. When I felt like there was no way possible to get past an obstacle, she would be there to help me over.
In my journey to lose weight and get fit, Sherry has been there the whole time. She helped me get started with the Whole30 and found recipes that we could eat and get us weaned off sugar. She transitioned us into Paleo with amazing diets and her amazing culinary skills. She spends countless hours in the kitchen on Sundays to prep our food for the week. She encouraged me to start running and went out there with me on my first runs to help motivate me. She is a large part of my success. I honestly can say that I wouldn’t be where I am today in health and fitness were it not for her support.
As we celebrate our fourteen years of marriage, I not only look back at the great memories, but to the journey yet ahead of us. I can only imagine how awesome it will be, and I look forward to many more years of annoying and molesting her.
I used to eat for entertainment when I was obese. I ate out of boredom, frustration, to help with stress, and when I decided that something looked good and I just had to have it. Learning to change my relationship with food from one of entertainment to fuel has changed a lot more in my life than just my health and weight. It’s helped me with overcoming the desire for short-term gratification.
In all things in life, those that are most worthwhile take time and effort to attain. If it’s worth a lot, chances are it takes a long time to acquire. Massive wealth, a paid off home, a college degree, or a becoming a master of your job field all takes time. Weight loss takes time and effort; the more weight, the more of both.
I’ve learned through my journey with food, health, and diet that I can put off impulses better now. My bank account is evidence of this: I no longer have to have things immediately. I have found I’m much better at analyzing a need and determining whether it’s really a need or just a desire. Most of the time, it turns out to be the latter, and I can push the impulse to the back of my head.
With food, it’s much the same. There was extra food left over after a meeting in the building today, and people were rummaging through the food to make plates for themselves. This was a good two hours after they all ate lunch. I asked a few of these people if they missed lunch, and they replied, “No, but free food!” Their plates were stacked as high as physically possible without falling over. A year and a half ago, I would have been one of those people. Today? It’s just not something that I want, nor does it appeal to me.
Short-term gratification vs long-term goals. I’m in this for the long-haul. I won’t derail my progress or health because something looks good. It’s just not enough reason.
I was told recently by a person who is struggling to lose weight that they can’t give up rice and beans because they love them too much. I asked them as gently as I could if they would put rice and beans above their own well-being and health, and they said, “Of course not,” yet that is exactly what they are doing. Our relationship with food is very complicated and deep-seeded, and it’s not easy to evaluate and change. It’s much like a long-term relationship. The longer you’re in it, the harder it is to call it quit even when you find out things are not good for you. Yes, breaking up with pizza and spaghetti and Chicago Dogs was hard for me, but I had to do it. I wanted to live a healthy life.
Cutting sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, grains, dairy, legumes, and soy doesn’t signal the end of good food as you know it. To the contrary, there are many delicious, filling, and healthy foods that you can make and eat. Heck, there are lots of foods that I ate before changing my lifestyle that I can still eat today: steak, sausage, ribs, brisket, lobster, crab, shrimp, fish, chicken, and sweet potatoes! I have found that by focusing on what I can eat instead of what I can’t has greatly influenced my overall happiness with my diet.
Food prep is a key ingredient to success in losing weight, and yes, this takes up a lot of time. There are efficient ways to get through food prep, but the truth is that it takes time and effort eat well. I will go into this in more depth with a later post, but what I will say here is that with food prep, you never have to worry about being tired after work and just wanting something fast and good for you. Cooking Paleo food is typically neither fast nor easy (unless you’re grilling some meat), so having pre-prepared foods in the refrigerator helps keep you on track.
Exercise: not needed until you’re ready for it. If you’re like I was, really obese, then don’t even think about exercise yet. Just change your diet. Change it for the rest of your life. Eat clean and healthy. The weight will come off. Then, when your body is ready for it (and heck, let’s be honest here: when your brain is ready for it, too!), you can start slowly and gently to get your muscles back into the swing of things. That’s what I did, and now, I run three times a week and do 80+ push ups every time!
I love my life. I love being healthy. I love no longer having diabetes. I love dentist appointments where I no longer have new cavities. I love being able to fit in a booth in a restaurant, or in a seat on an airplane. I love not being embarrassed by my size when I try on clothing. I love being able to chase my dog around the house. I love being able to chase my wife around the kitchen! I love all these things more than pasta, pizza, and hot dogs. If you would have asked me two years ago if I love food, I would have told you that I did. I would even have told you that I couldn’t give up those certain foods. Yet here I am. I did it, and I’m happier for it.
Get past your love of short-term gratification of specific foods and fall in love with a life of good health, mobility, flexibility, and a more active life! You can do this!
On the left, me in 1998, a year after I left active duty. On the right, me last week (2017).
I was an active duty Marine for 11 years and I got out to get my kids closer to my parents, my sister, and her kids. I went to work at Compaq and quickly gained a lot of weight. So much, so fast in fact, that I had stretch marks. My weight reached a peak of 312 lbs. I then decided to get healthy and I did a Whole30 and adopted the Paleo Diet and eighteen months later, I’m in the National Guard and within height/weight regulations. On top of it all, in my second month in the Guard, we had to take our Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) which measures our ability to run 2 miles, sit ups in 2 minutes, and push ups in 2 minutes. For my…
People are always looking for the easiest way to do anything these days, including losing weight. We want the weight loss pill, the weight loss drink, the weight loss patch, the weight loss program, the weight loss (insert item here). Whatever it is, we want it fast, easy, and as inexpensive as possible.
The sad reality is there is no easy way to lose weight. There is a simple way to do it, but it’s not easy: eliminate sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, grains, dairy, legumes, and soy. That’s it. If you do that and eat reasonable meals with good, whole foods, you will lose weight.
People who look for the easy and fast ways to lose weight are almost always disappointed, ultimately concluding that there is no way for them to lose weight and get healthy. They then give up entirely on losing weight and getting healthy.
There are those who try every fad diet and counting calories and they learn within a month or so that it is not sustainable in the long-term. Their ability to restrict their diet so dramatically can only last a short while before they start starving. Most of the time, people on restrictive diets don’t cut out the carbs which leads to intense cravings between meals. This makes it almost impossible to succeed long-term.
Some try to exercise the weight off, and to a certain degree, this is possible, but it is very difficult to do without making long-term substantial lifestyle changes in the food they eat. I know people who have been working out daily for over seven years, yet without a real change in their diet, they haven’t lost any real weight. They are stronger and more fit, but not lighter.
The real key to weight loss is simple and free: adopt a healthy diet. Cut carbs (grains, legumes, soy, dairy) and eat meat and vegetables with some fruit. 90% of all weight loss is the result of improving your diet.
The entire time I’ve been on this weight loss journey, my progress has not been linear. My weight bounced between 2-3 lbs all the way down. Since I weigh myself daily, in the beginning, it was distressing and disheartening. After a while, I started noticing trends based on the things I ate the day or days previously, and it helped me gain an understanding for how my body reacts to certain foods. Now, a year and a half after I started, when I see my weight spike a few pounds, I don’t get upset. I get concerned, but not upset. I know that I need to focus on the food I’m eating, and I know that I just need to stick to my plan, and the weight loss will continue.
I lost my way for a few months. Eating the almond butter and chocolate sweets after dinner and entire sweet potatoes with meats did away with my weight loss for a while. The small amounts of sugar in those items were enough to keep me from making any more progress with my weight loss. Now that I’ve eliminated them, I lost 7 lbs. Even when I go back up 2 lbs in a weekend due to a holiday meal, I’m not worried. I know that it’ll come off in a few days, and I’ll be back to my good progress.
I can remember watching the numbers going up and down and not realizing how much progress I’ve made until I logged a new weight and found I was in a new group of 10’s. My most distinct memory is when I went from the 180’s to the 170’s. I bounced quite a bit in the 180’s, but one day, I weighed 179.6 lbs, and I realized that I’d gotten out of the 180’s just fine. It was a great
If you plan on weighing daily, know that you will see the numbers go up every now and then. What you’re looking for is trends. If the scale goes up three days in a row, then you really need to look at what you’re eating and adjust. But a day or two of increase followed by a decrease? That’s normal. Now, looking at the even bigger picture, if the general trend is going lower and lower, then you’re on the right path. Use the scale as a tool, not as your single indicator of success. There are many, many non-scale factors to consider in your overall health.