A Quick Update from Houston

Hello friends!

I’m here in Houston supporting the disaster relief efforts of the National Guard. Therefore, I’m unable to make updates as regularly as I’d like. I ask that you please forgive me. I will be doing my best to keep this blog updated, but the posts may come farther apart than normal.

With that said, I’m back to eating the way I ate during my National Guard Annual Training. For breakfast this morning, I had an Epic Bar, an RXBar, and a 2-ingredient fruit bar with a handful of nuts. Even though we have food being brought in, since much of it is very carb-heavy and definitely non-Paleo, I have elected to continue eating my own food. It’s not nearly as filling as my primary and usual Paleo Diet, but it keeps me fed and fueled, and best of all, healthy. Now, I just need to get my PT gear here (shorts, shoes, socks) and I can start running every other day to keep in shape.

Hurricane Harvey

As most people now know, Houston has been hit by a devastating hurricane called Harvey. What you may not know is that I live just North of Houston. While my own home was not flooded, as a soldier in the National Guard, I was activated (albeit for a day before being released to go home due to being in the affected area) and opened our home to a couple whose own home had flooded.

I’ve been busy with keeping track of the storm, watching the flood waters, and preparations for activation, as well as coming back from being activated. It was time consuming and as such, I don’t have a regular article for today.

I will write more later, and update this site within 24 hours. I thank you for understanding, and for reading this blog.

Why photos are important in your weight loss journey

Just before I started my first Whole30, my cousin Sarah said, “I know this is going to sound weird, and your first instinct will be to not want to do it, but take a picture of yourself in the mirror either nude or in your underwear to compare against later. You’ll be glad you did.” She was right; I took those photos (cringe worthy as they are) and they fueled my motivation as I made progress and I could compare newer photos against the older ones.

Then there are the casual photos. Those photos that either were taken of me or that I took of myself (selfies!) that I compare against. Here’s one that I took as a joke to my kids and my nephew and niece:

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I didn’t realize that five years later, I could use it to compare against. Even though I know it’s me in both pictures, it’s hard for me to believe it’s the same person. ME!

Here’s another one taken six years ago versus this week:

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Once again, the change is striking.

If you’re at the beginning of your health and/or fitness journey, get some photos. Save them for when you need some motivation. When you see what you looked like when you started, you won’t want to give any of your progress back.

Why is the last mile the hardest mile?

It’s a lyric from a song by The Smiths called, “Is It Really So Strange,” but what’s more interesting is learning that the author of the lyrics, Morrissey, was a runner in school. He knew well that the last mile, for whatever reason, is the hardest mile. On the last 20 or so of my runs, I’ve noticed that the last half mile is my wall.

I don’t know if I need to increase my distances to push the wall out (probably) or if it’s just psychological since I’m getting close to being done with the run (possible), but either way, it’s interesting to note that there is a wall to push past. When my muscles are burning and my chest is heaving, my instincts are telling me to stop. It would feel so good! But I have yet to cut a run short, and short of an emergency or injury, I won’t allow myself to quit. Thus, I persist. I keep going. What is surprising to me is that I learned that I’m the type of person to keep pushing regardless of the short-term benefit to quitting. The same could be said for my diet.

While I was losing 150 lbs, there were times I felt like eating a pizza or a bowl of spaghetti would make me feel better. I even thought about justifications for eating them. “It’s just a short-term setback.” “It’s just a cheat; what’s it going to hurt?” “Surely I can get away with a few slices of pizza without any negative impact on my progress, right?” Well, I never gave in. Honestly, those impulse thoughts were just that: impulses that I ignored.

Those impulses and false cravings are like a wall during a run; something you just have to set your mind to get past. I got past them many, many times. Heck, they’re almost like hurdles in the beginning, but the longer you go on without the bad foods, the easier it is to get past them. Now, they’re less hurdles and more like smooth pebbles pushed into a cement sidewalk; I don’t even notice them anymore.

The last mile is the hardest mile. The last 10 lbs was the hardest for me to lose. But in the end, I always finish my runs, and I eventually lost that last 10 lbs (and then some!). Now, I’m in maintenance mode, and it feels great. Get past the wall. Jump those hurdles. There is a healthy and fit you waiting at the finish line!

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Me, back in 2016 after completing my first 5k distance run in San Antonio, TX.

“That Paleo Nonsense…”

Featured Image -- 8974I read those very words on a forum that was discussing an article I wrote about my journey. Some gentleman has closed his mind and decided that somehow, a diet with grains is superior to one without. Furthermore, he claimed that there was no need for anyone to forego any “Food groups” to get healthy.

OK.

I know there are people who have been able to lose weight while eating grains and cutting out other foods. There are many, still, who have lost weight through counting calories in vs calories out (CICO). On paper, CICO makes a lot of sense. In practice, it can be very difficult, especially if the person isn’t limiting carbs.

The Paleo Diet saved my life. I am now healthier than I’ve been in over 20 years, and I feel at least 15-20 years younger than I did two years ago. This is no accident and it didn’t just happen overnight. Whole30 got me to cut my sugar addiction, and the Paleo Diet taught me that I can eat food that tastes good and is filling without suffering hunger or cravings.

There is nothing nonsensical about the Paleo Diet. My results and following maintenance success is typical of those who stick with Paleo.

How do I stay motivated to eat right?

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Big me, and not-so-big me.

It’s a question (again with the questions!) that I’m asked often when discussing my diet. It’s something I’ve never given much thought to, because it’s just something I do. When I changed my eating habits (known as a diet in scientific circles), I did so knowing it was a permanent change, and not something I was doing for a short duration. It was a change that I knew was necessary to turn my health around, and to increase my chances of living longer. I also knew that there was no turning back.

With that said, the last thing I wanted to do was reduce my chances for success or to sabotage any of my hard work. I see what others call cheat days as sabotage days, and I am not cool with that. However, every now and then, a special event, occasion, or holiday calls for eating foods that I otherwise avoid. That’s life, and it’s okay to have treats every now and then. But a cheat day? Never.

What motivates me is how good I feel all the time. Even just sitting in my chair typing out this blog post, I am comfortable. My stomach is flat and it feels nice to be able to sit without having a big belly getting in the way of things. When I can run up stairs without getting winded, it feels great. When I am able to reach down and tie my shoes without holding my breath, it feels great. When I look in the mirror and see a healthy and fit 50 year-old, it feels great. In short, it’s all the time between meal times (called life) that feels great. Why would I trade that for the short-term gratification of eating badly?

Think about it; you eat only for a small portion of your day. You have to live with the consequences the rest of the time. Why put something into your body that will make the rest of your day difficult or miserable? For me, the trade off is an easy decision to make any time I’m tempted. Am I willing to trade feeling great all day for a bowl of pasta? Heck no.

Think about what it is you really want out of life and make it your reality. Eating is important and yes, it’s at the center of our existence (without it, we die). There’s no rule that says good food has to taste badly (contrary to what some older people keep telling me). You can have delicious food, it can be filling, and it can be good for you. Concentrate on the good foods you already like that you can continue eating, give up the bad foods (added sugar, grains, beans, soy) and live your life to the fullest! Once you start feeling better and start reaping the rewards of eating right, you won’t want to sacrifice how good you feel to a pizza.

The weight yo-yo in maintenance mode

18893064_10209342147419779_7615675108895115818_nThis past weekend, I had a lot of non-Paleo food and drinks. Starting Friday, I drank lots of hard cider, ate lots of Paleo cookies on Saturday, and on Sunday, I had Hungarian fried bread, chicken paprikas with nokedli (similar to German spaetzle) and even a slice of bread. That’s a whole lot of carbs for someone who normally eschews them. The net result? 6 lbs of water weight gain!

Three days later, I’m down over 3 lbs already, and I fully expect for the remaining 3 to be gone by Friday. How? Naturally and easily through sticking with my normal Paleo diet.

The great part about the Paleo Diet is that it’s easy, the food is delicious, and it keeps me from wanting to snack via cravings. I do get hungry, but typically at meal times. If I get hungry sooner, it’s because I didn’t eat enough at the previous meal.

Our bodies are very good at telling us what they want as long as we’re giving it good fuel. Lots of sugar and carbs trick the brain into wanting to acquire more calories even though we may have enough or even too much. Now that I’ve limited the carbs I eat, I have eliminated sugar cravings, or cravings between meals for a “Pick me up” snack.

Being in maintenance mode is a great place to be. It’s been interesting watching my weight go up and down as a reaction to the foods I eat, but it’s comforting to know how predictable it is. I know what my body is going to do as I’m eating something which makes it easier to deal with emotionally when the scale confirms my suspicions. It’s even better knowing that the weight will come back down as long as I eat right (and by right, I do mean eating delicious, filling foods).

Our weight naturally goes up and down depending on levels of hydration, the foods we eat, and even how often we poop. Don’t get caught up in short-term fluctuations. They are normal. Track your weight, whether it’s formal or informal, and react to trends, not fluctuations. If that means you weigh yourself once a week, so be it. I weigh daily, and sometimes even twice a day (I always weigh after a run), and this instant feedback has taught me how my body reacts to different foods and activities which in turn helps me make better, healthier decisions.