Advice to Service Members Getting Out

This article is intended for service members who are separating from the military, but contains information that is useful for everyone. -EJ


So, you’ve decided to get out. To leave the Big Green Gun Club behind. To seek out greener pastures, or to just leave on your own terms. Good for you! There are some things you are leaving behind that may, at first glance, seem like a blessing, but actually turn out to be a curse. The one I’m going to talk about is exercise.

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When I graduated USMC boot camp, I weighed 138 lbs.

Now hear me out. I know how you feel; I stood in those boots many years ago, looking out toward civilian life and looking forward to never having to run again. I feel you! But here’s the problem; staying fit and healthy are super-important, and one area I’ve seen so many of us veterans fail ourselves is our health and fitness. Look at the VFW or American Legion and you’ll find a rather rotund bunch. The majority of veterans I know gained a lot of weight, and I’m watching them fall one by one in large part due to health issues brought about by poor health and fitness.

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This was me when I ate whatever I wanted to in whatever quantity. Exercise? What’s that?

There are many things we can do nothing about when it comes to our health like genetic disorders and diseases, but staying fit and giving ourselves the best chance to stay healthy by eating right and getting off our tails three times a week is something well within our power.

I’m not saying stay in PFT shape (although I do now!). I’m saying that maybe a short run every other day, three times a week, is not a bad thing. Watch what you eat. Learn about how bad sugar is in our diet, and change. You can still enjoy some really delicious and tasty foods while eating right.

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You’re getting out of the military. Give yourself the best chance at a long, happy life by being healthy and fit. Your family depends on you. Don’t give the grim reaper any excuse to come and take you sooner than necessary. Eat right and get off your tail and move.

Whole30 Round 3 Begins Today

Today begins another round of Whole30; this time, to support Sherry. She feels that she has been eating larger than necessary portion sizes and sweets (albeit Paleo) in the evenings after dinner and she’s put on some weight she wants to lose. While I’ve been doing well with the weight, diet, and exercise, I need to support Sherry in this. Also, I figure that I could use the clean(er) eating for a month and sort of reset my own diet habits. I’ve been known to eat a few Paleo sweets here and there just because, and that’s a no-no.

breakfast

I started off today with three slices of bacon and two eggs coupled with the cup of coffee I drink on my way in to work. For lunch, Sherry made three different Whole30 meals to package for our lunches and some dinners this short week, and it turns out that they are actually favorites of ours that we eat even when we’re not on a Whole30. I’ll likely start the week’s lunches off with a Tex-Mex Casserole that I love so much. Dinner is supposed to be some sort of fish (Trout, I think) with asparagus or broccoli.

It’s funny; I know what to expect, and I know that this time around, it won’t be hard at all. The only thing I will miss is the flexibility in having a Paleo-friendly bar or jerky in the afternoon after lunch and before a run, but I will replace that with some almonds. I very rarely need a snack, but I’m finding that on run days, it’s good to have a little extra energy on tap.

Making the unconscious conscious and cravings

Carl Jung said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” Your life circumstances largely result from your unconscious thinking patterns and behaviors. If you want change, stop running the same old script and decide to write a new one. That’s what I did when I decided to do my first Whole30 and then adopt a Paleo lifestyle and the Paleo Diet.

In the past, I allowed my cravings and nutritional ignorance guide my life. I ate whatever I was hungry for with no regard to its nutritional value or any detrimental effects on my body. I was eating myself to death. After taking a long, hard look at the state of my health and contemplating my impending mortality, I decided to tackle my ignorance and take charge of my health. No longer was I reacting to cravings and calling them subconscious messages for what my body is hungry for. I no longer answered cravings blindly by stuffing my face. I began to think about where these cravings were coming from, what they were the result of, and what they could be telling me.

First, they were the result of a sugar addiction. The cravings came as a result of my body wanting me to put more sugar into it. And not just foods with carbs, but foods with easily soluble sugar: sodas, candies, and anything with refined sugar. The bad part is that this is the worst kind of sugar, and is very quickly turned into fat by the liver and pancreas.

Second, they only perpetuated the cycle of sugar addiction. Until I got free of it, it was going to continue to run my life through my stomach (and ultimately end it).

Third, they were sometimes the result of boredom. When I was bored, I often heard the “Call” of a craving and answered it by eating even if I wasn’t hungry. This was like stoking a fire that was already burning; it just made the cravings stronger next time.

Many people feel like cravings are natural. They are not. Hunger is natural, and should only happen when your body needs nutrients, not for specific foods. Ask yourself the next time you get a craving: When is the last time I ate? Is what I’m craving food, or something specific? Am I hungry, or just bored?

I do a few things if I feel hungry to make sure it’s a real signal and not my brain playing tricks on me. I drink some tea, water, or coffee. I find something to do, whether it’s a task at work or a project at home. If I’m still hungry afterward, chances are that I had a light meal previously, or it’s getting close to meal time.

Cravings are a lot like fate: not real. Consider why you make the decisions you do in your eating, and really think about where those decisions are coming from. You might be shocked to find that sugar is in the driver’s seat in many of the decisions you make.

Reflection Question.

This is something I never thought of, but it’s definitely something to think about. Every time I run, or pass on a food item I know isn’t good for me, ultimately, I’m expressing a respect and love of self.

Thriving Under Pressure

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Show yourself some love today.

Your health and happiness depend on it. ♥️

Related Post: From Fear to Love

What loving thing will you do for yourself today?

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The closer I get to my goal weight, the slower the rate of loss gets

At least at the very end. When I set initial goals of losing 20 lbs, 50 lbs, and even 100 lbs, I met those goals either on or before the mark, or slightly afterward (as in the case of my losing 100 lbs). Getting to my final goal has taken me quite a long time, and I’m still not there! I am within 2 lbs of it, although my weight has been going up and down +/- 2 lbs, bouncing off of my lowest weight a few times. I know I can get to 165 lbs if I really, really want to, but I’ve also been allowing myself to eat a regular Paleo diet without eating a “Weight loss” Paleo diet. What’s the difference? That, to me, would be cutting down on anything with sweetener in it at all, including honey or fruit. I haven’t gone that strict because, to be honest, I’ve been pretty happy with my weight and my physical progress.

My victories in the past few months have been mostly non-scale victories (NSV’s). Most of my NSV’s involve either losing waist size, shrinking extra skin, or improving muscle toning. I’ve also been making improvements in my push ups and in my run times.

As I get to the end of my weight loss phase, I am coming to the realization that I will not do anything different when I reach 165 lbs. I won’t eat a pizza, eat a cake, or have any sort of celebratory meal. To do so would be completely against everything I’ve learned in the past year and a half in regards to eating. I will likely just jump up and down like an idiot in the bathroom and smile a lot.

Holiday Weekend Food Fest

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Puled pork; staple of holiday weekends around here.

I saw a meme that I liked a lot (which is saying something): People who say the glass is half full or half empty miss the point; the glass is refillable. I think the same can be said for those who eat a course or meal that is non-Paleo or not in their diet plans. They think that if they eat a slice of pizza or a slice of cake, the whole day is ruined and they might as well just eat whatever they want and start again the next day. Who says you have to wait until the next day?

I have encountered non-Paleo foods at every picnic or BBQ I’ve attended since going Paleo, and instead of avoiding everything, I either limit my portion sizes or just eat a bit and then continue to try to find the best Paleo-friendly choices I can. There’s nothing that says an entire day is going to be ruined because I had some pizza or non-Paleo potato salad.

Changing your lifestyle is playing the long game. You may get short-term gains here and there, but you’re not changing your eating habits for a quick gain and then going back. You’re adopting a whole new way of thinking when it comes to food, and forging a new relationship with the things you eat so you can cut out those things that hurt you and eat only those that nourish you. Every now and then, a rogue item isn’t going to kill you. Only successive courses and meals will derail and sabotage you.

Don’t beat yourself up. Be as good as you can, but give up on eating well for an entire day just because you ate some sausage with sugar and nitrites in them. Avoid the cake and continue eating well. You’ll be just fine.

Some things to consider if you’re a parent

What you are teaching your kids to eat now is what they will eat for the rest of their lives. If you feed them foods high in carbs (sugar), they will continue to eat these foods for ever. The generation of children being born today is the first generation in the history of the United States to have a lower life expectancy than their parents. Think about that. The reason? Sugar.

In 1980, there were no cases of Type 2 Diabetes diagnosed in adolescents. Back then, Type 2 Diabetes was known as Adult Onset Diabetes. By 2010, over 52,000 adolescents were diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, and that number is expected to climb five-fold by 2020. What’s changed? With the low-fat craze, food manufacturers replaced fat with sugar to make the foods delicious. The sugar lobby paid for studies and politicians to declare that sugar isn’t the enemy.

Over 80% of all food prepared and sold in grocery stores in the United States have sugar added to them. The crazy part is that the Government’s Nutrition Guidelines tell us that low-fat and carbs are good for us, ignoring the biology of how our bodies work. When we ingest sugar, our liver works to turn that into energy for our bodies. When the body detects that the sugar content in the blood is too high, the pancreas releases insulin which is pumped into the liver to store the excess sugar. That’s why so many people today (myself included) suffer from fatty liver. Fortunately for me, I no longer have fatty liver, but when I was heavy, I did.

Eating fat does not make you fat. Let me write that again. Eating fat does not make you fat. Eating carbs and sugar makes you fat. Our bodies reject excess ingested fat by passing it right through us. That’s why you get the runs when you eat lots of greasy food. I’m not saying fried foods are good for you, but bacon fat and other natural fats like fish oil are not only not bad, but in the case of fish oil, extremely beneficial. Remember when the government used to tell us that eggs were bad for us? It turns out that they are the perfect food; one of the most nutritious things you could eat.

Look at the companies that own the baby formula brands. Nestle. Kraft. These companies have a vested interest in putting sugar into baby formula; they are making future sugar junkies. Since sugar is 8 times more addictive than cocaine, it only makes sense to start them out young. Here’s something damning about the entire thing: insurance companies are the largest institutional shareholders of fast food companies. Think about that for a while.

Sugar is bad for you. It’s bad for your body, and especially your liver. Sugar is a toxin to humans. Sure, it happens to taste amazing, but apparently, antifreeze tastes amazing to dogs, too.