I’m neither ready nor willing to be an old man yet

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Me at a Halloween party dressed/disguised as Wilford Brimley.

I’m 50. When I was in my teens, I remember thinking that 50 was old. My dad was in his 40’s when I was in high school, and he turned 50 when I was in the Marines. I remember thinking how old that was, and how I had so much to do and so long before I turned 50 myself. Well, that was what feels like an instant ago, and I find myself a 50 year-old man. But I don’t feel old, and I refuse to be an old man just yet.

As I look through the Facebook photos of people I went to school with, I notice that a bunch of us look pretty darned good for our age while some of us… well, not so much. It seems some people accept getting old, and in doing so, seem to accelerate its effects.

Not me.

I’m not getting old gracefully. I’m going to fight it by eating well, exercising, and staying active.

You don’t have to accept being old by acting old. You have your health in your hands. Eat well. Exercise. Get out and do things. Don’t accept aging sitting down.

SimplyHDR56141990
A 50 year-old Staff Sergeant in the National Guard.

Visiting my Cultural Heritage (through food)

Me and my son enjoying some Hungarian fried bread called, “Lángos.”

Something I may have mentioned a time or two on this blog is that I’m a first-generation American, and that my parents came from Hungary. As such, I grew up eating a lot of Hungarian food while rarely having American food outside of school. Being part of a very small cultural minority makes it rare for me to be able to enjoy any sort of social event with people who speak my language and eat the food I grew up with. This past weekend changed that.

I was able to attend a Hungarian Cultural event in The Woodlands with my wife and my son. It was important for me to take my son, as he’s only been to one other Hungarian cultural event, and that was when he was too young to remember. He got to hear some music, meet other Hungarians, and the treat was eating lángos, pogácsa, paprikás csirke, and almás pite. Translated into English, that’s fried bread, a sort of muffin, Chicken Paprikash, and a pastry similar to apple strudel. Of course, none of this was Paleo-friendly, and while we initially struggled with justifying eating it, we decided that it was a special occasion and just ate all the food.

It was all delicious, and just as amazing as I remembered (I haven’t had many of these foods for at least two years or more). Of course, I’m up a few pounds the following day, but it was to be expected, and it’s mostly water weight. I know it’ll go away within a few days, and that I’ll get back down to my happy weight. For now, I just remember how delicious the food was, and savor the memory of eating all that good food.

I’m not selling anything.

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I don’t endorse or sell any pills, powders, patches, products, paid programs, or procedures to lose weight. I am not profiting from the advice I am giving here.While  I am writing a book about my journey and how I lost over 150 lbs and kept it off (which is not complete), do not sell or push anything on my site that costs you money. Everything I did is free and costs only perseverance, motivation, and dedication.

Every time I tell someone about my website, I see the look on their face: Oh shit, he’s trying to sell me something. Our society is rife with people trying to make a buck of each other, especially when it comes to health and fitness. The industry around it is HUGE, and since the majority of Americans is overweight, it’s a market just screaming to be taken advantage of. Worse yet is that most of these overweight people will do anything, up to and including spending large amounts of money, to try to lose that weight. Sadly, no amount of money will help them. What they need is inside them, and costs nothing.

Will power.

Determination.

Discipline.

Motivation.

Perseverance.

The strength of character to make the decision to start, and to stop accepting being overweight as a normal or acceptable state of being.

It is my sincere goal that people find my blog and take to heart what I’m saying. What I preach here is simple: eat meats, vegetables, and fruit, and your health will improve. There are caveats: added-sugar is bad. Grains are bad. Beans and soy are bad. Yes, I say bad because in my experience, minimizing negative impacts only allows for slips or cheats that amount to sabotage. I know some people say that labeling foods as bad is a negative connotation that leads to failure, but I believe the opposite is true. Pizza is bad for me; therefore, I very rarely have any (once in two years, to be precise, and it was one of my favorite foods!).

You can do this. I’m a lazy person who used to rail against anyone who would restrict their diet in any way, regardless of the benefits. I’ve since seen the light, so to speak, and I’ve come to realize that my life is worth the inconvenience of no longer eating some of my favorite foods. What good is life when the quality is negatively impacted by the short-term gratification of eating bad foods? I’d rather live a high-quality life devoid of bad foods instead of a poor quality life full of maladies and conditions brought about by poor nutrition.

The PaleoMarine PT Plan

image-1-1I’ve been asked more than a few times for my exercise plan, or as we call it in the Marines, “PT Plan.” I don’t do anything crazy, strenuous, or even difficult. In fact, it’s very basic and easy. Before I post the actual PT Plan, I want to put out some of the things I wanted to ensure with my PT Plan:

  • I didn’t want to be sore. I am not a “Pain is good” kind of guy when it comes to exercise (or any pain, really, for that matter!). I don’t believe in workouts that require pushing to failure. I’ve never had good luck with them.
  • I was not looking to make fast gains. I’m okay with slow, more organic gains.
  • I thought about how they transformed us soft kids into hardened, fit Marines in boot camp at MCRD, and I recalled that we did a day of running followed by a day of rest (sometimes two). By the end of boot camp, we were running 8+ mile runs as if they were a walk in the park.

I started with push ups. Before I ran, jogged, or even distance walked, I started with the basic, plain, boring push up. I was only able to do around 10 without feeling like I was going to have to exert myself to failure, so I stopped when the arms started burning. This accomplished two things:

  1. I wasn’t sore the next day. This is important because I have a life, and I need to use my arms for more than just push ups or exercise.
  2. I was able to get back to push ups again without dreading them. When I know something is going to hurt, I’m less likely to do it. Since I was able to do push ups without pain, it was easy to drop and knock ’em out.

The result is that within 6 months, I was up to 120 push ups WITHOUT FEELING SORE. EVER. That’s a big deal. Could I have gotten there faster? Sure! But I couldn’t have gotten there with no pain or soreness in the same way I did.

I remember starting an exercise plan in the Philippines while I was stationed there, and I worked out hard with a Gunny who pushed me the whole way. I didn’t make it past the first day. My arms were so sore I couldn’t raise them to wash my hair in the shower the next day. Some people see that as a sign of success; I saw it as the opposite. If I can’t perform basic life tasks and function like a normal person, then the workout is counter-productive to me and to be avoided.

With all that said, here’s my PT Plan:

  • Monday: Max push ups and run
  • Tuesday: Rest day
  • Wednesday: Max push ups and run
  • Thursday: Rest day
  • Friday: Max push ups and run
  • Saturday and Sunday: Rest days

I run 3 times a week. That has gotten me into good enough shape in three months to pass my Army/National Guard PFT, and within 6 months, I was running sub-8 minute miles and doing over 120 push ups in two minutes.

My weight is 160 lbs and my body fat is around 10-11%. I am no longer diabetic, my LDL cholesterol levels are normal, I no longer suffer from fatty liver disease, and my blood pressure is normal. I got there through a Paleo diet and my moderate fitness plan.

The Cost of Eating Paleo on Annual Training

img_0198When I went to my National Guard Annual Training (AT), I took with me RXBars and Epic bars as well as some random various jerkys and unsalted almonds and cashews. I survived the two week AT by eating:

  • 1 RXBar
  • 2 Epic bars
  • 1/3 cup almonds or cashews
  • 1 orange or apple

The cost of each meal came out to around $7, give or take a buck. This isn’t too bad, although it’s not cheap. What it was, however, was healthy for me and allowed me to maintain my diet and even lose a little more weight. I could likely have upped the volume of food to maintain my weight, but I didn’t need to. I never felt hungry, I had no cravings, and I always felt energized and ready to go.

For two weeks, I ate at least two meals a day that I brought with me with the third meal being provided by the Army. The result was:

  • ~$14/day
  • ~$98/week
  • ~$196/AT

I could have eaten the food they served us and MRE’s at lunch, but I didn’t want to deal with the stomach issues and the exorbitant amount of carbs that were in the food they were serving. My peace of mind was definitely worth the money spent, and my body thanks me for it as well.

Eat slowly; eat enough

 

I was talking to someone today who told me they started eating only meat and vegetables and they haven’t lost any weight in two weeks. I asked them about their portion sizes; they said they ate a lot. I told them, “Reduce the size of the portions a bit, and slow down. Let your stomach feel full. It takes time.” Now, this is a little different from the title of this article, and I’ll get to that.

It’s possible to eat all the right food yet gain weight. It comes down to volume. You can have too much of a good thing which leads to too many calories. It’s harder to do when you eat good food, as your body will fill up faster and it will become harder to eat the sheer number of calories by volume as you can with grains, but it can still be done.

If you want to lose weight, eat slowly, and eat enough. This seems to contradict my advice in the first paragraph, but hear me out. If you’re eating fast, you are eating a lot. You will eat faster than your body can respond to the influx of calories, and you will over-eat. Therefore, to eat the right amount, you need to slow down which will reduce the amount of food you eat while allowing to feel as if you’ve eaten enough because (and here’s the magic) YOU HAVE!

I try to eat everything slowly now. It allows me to enjoy the food a little longer while also allowing my brain to receive the signal from my stomach that it’s either getting full, or is full. Then, when I stop eating, I’m full until the next meal.

Slow down. Eat until you feel comfortable (but not stuffed!). You will be healthier for it.

 

Where the PaleoMarine goes Keto

This might be a long story, so sit back and relax while you read it.

A few weeks back, Sherry was complaining to me that her weight had plateaued and that no matter how well she was eating or how much she was exercising, she was’t losing any weight. The impetus for our third Whole30 a month ago was because she wanted to lose some more weight. I did the Whole30 with her and lost some weight but she didn’t lose nearly as much as she had hoped she could. That led to some dissatisfaction and disappointment on her part.

As I have been over the past two years, I did some reading about weight loss and methods people have used to safely and successfully lose weight for the long-term. A method I dabbled in and have used while on this weight loss and health journey of my own was Keto: putting one’s body into ketosis (which is not to be confused with ketoacidosis which is very bad and dangerous). Simply put, ketosis is where the body stops using glucose as energy and instead starts using fat as energy. The way one puts their body into ketosis is to nearly eliminate all carb sources from one’s diet. It’s hard to do and easy to get out of, but once in ketosis, the body literally burns its own fat for energy.

I talked to Sherry about keto, and at first, she was reluctant. She was incredulous, but more importantly, she’s grown comfortable with her knowledge of Paleo and how to make delicious and filling foods that are Paleo. If we went keto, she’d have to learn a whole new way to cook.

While I was at annual training this year, she decided to experiment with it. She started doing research and found recipes she tried. It turned out that much of the food she makes as Paleo can be easily converted to keto with minimal effort. Sure, there are things like sweet potatoes that someone on keto can’t eat, but otherwise, much of it is the same.

The end result is that Sherry has decided to go keto, at least for the time being, to drop the last bit of weight she wants to lose. In support of her, and to reduce her workload, I’m doing it with her. She did a Whole30 for me, and then went Paleo for me. Now, I’m returning the favor and doing keto with her.

Does that mean I’m changing the name of the website, or even myself? No. I plan on eating Paleo for the rest of my life, but keto is something we can do to help lose some weight that is otherwise being difficult to get rid of. As a runner, it will be interesting to see how it works for me. I have read about athletes who are keto, and it seems to work for them, but they aren’t distance runners (but then again, neither am I, really).

So, PaleoMarine is temporarily the KetoMarine. I don’t really need to lose any more weight, but if it happens while I’m supporting Sherry in this latest endeavor, then so be it. Heck, I’m still classified as overweight by BMI standards, and I’m still on the heavy side of my allowable weight in the military. Dropping another 5-10 lbs would be a welcome change.