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.

Reintroduction to Paleo Food

Having been in the field at Fort Hood for the past two weeks as part of my National Guard annual training, I had to endure a lot of non-Paleo foods. I didn’t eat the majority of what was served to us, having my own supply of Paleo food in the way of RX Bars, Epic bars, and nuts, but I did eat non-Paleo foods a few times with consequences: intestinal distress. Let’s just say I had to visit the port-a-cans more often than I would have liked.

My diet was very basic and very consistent in all other regards: one RX Bar, two Epic bars, and 1/3 cup of almonds or cashews. Day after day. For two weeks. It was surprisingly sustainable, and I didn’t get palate fatigue (like I feared). I also was able to lose 5 lbs in the two weeks I was out there, which was good.

When I got back home, I had wings, steak, wings, bacon and eggs, wings, and more wings. I didn’t plan on eating that many wings, but it just happened. And do you know what? My gut was perfectly okay with it, and my weight stuck at a comfortable 162.9 lbs throughout the weekend. Even with some Paleo chocolate chip cookies thrown in and some ciders and rum, my weight didn’t spike.

Maybe I’ve hit a weight my body likes and I can take some liberties with my food, or I was careful about serving sizes without thinking about it. Either way, reintroducing myself to regular Paleo food has been easy and successful. Good thing the stuff is so delicious!

Grains are bad

There. I said it.

Grains are bad.

Ha! I said it again! But I did so because it’s true. It boggles my mind to no end when I see people starting what they call a healthy meal plan by adding grains into their food. I get it; nutritionists have been saying for decades that grains are not only good for us, but a preferred source of nutrition. Well, nothing could be further from the truth.

Why are grains bad for us when our grandparents and all their forebears ate grains without issue? It comes down to how grains have been altered in the past 50 years.

Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly: “This thing being sold to us called wheat is this stocky little high-yield plant, a distant relative of the wheat our mothers used to bake muffins, biochemically light-years removed from the wheat of just 40 years ago.”

More specifically:

Dr. Mark Hyman, author of The Blood Sugar Solution: “This new modern wheat may look like wheat, but it is different in three important ways that all drive obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and more. It contains a super starch, amylopectin A, that is super fattening, a form of super gluten that is super inflammatory, and [acts like] a super drug that is super addictive and makes you crave and eat more”.

Think about that for a moment. Our modern wheat is different in a way that makes it more toxic to us AND more addictive. Our government heavily subsidizes wheat production. Now, think about what the reasons may be behind a lack of government-backed advice regarding the dangers of modern wheat. Scary, isn’t it?

But, it’s not all about conspiracy theories. There’s more.

I recommend reading this article on PaleoLeap.com. It’s got all the information nicely wrapped up and sourced in a way that I would rather link to than recreate or steal. After all, they did all the work already.

New lowest weight: 160.4 lbs

paleomarinecomimages_27_original_BUEenbOc3ZK(1)I don’t know how this happened, but when I weighed myself this morning, I weighed in at 160.4 lbs. That’s the lowest I’ve weighed since… well, I can’t remember. Probably when I was 23. I was a Corporal in the Marines, then.

My body composition is much different now, though. I’m much leaner and muscular than I was when I was 23. Back then, I was a soft 160 lbs while now I’m at around 10% body fat. That’s quite a difference.

Since returning from National Guard annual training, I’ve lost almost 5 lbs. I don’t know how or why, but the weight keeps coming off. I’m eating a lot more fat now, and I’ve cut down a lot on the carb intake since I’m not relying on RXBars for my nutrition.

Am I hoping to get into the 150’s? I am. Everyone is telling me that I’m already thin enough, but psychologically, getting into the 150’s will allow me to stress less about my weight. It will give me more wiggle room so I can enjoy life a bit more. I like to stay far from my maximum allowable weight in the military, and being under 160 will give me peace of mind to eat a hot dog or a slice of pizza every now and then (when I want to accept the consequences of eating cheese or grains and their effect on my gut!).

This isn’t about being thin. It’s about being healthy. I’m only 5’6″ now (after shrinking an inch since age 19). Being in the 150’s is healthier than being in the 160’s. I feel better at this weight, too.

I am a changed man

I am not who I once was. I have come a long way from the place I used to be. I used to say I hate exercise, that I will never  exercise, and that I would never restrict my food intake from specific food groups. I would deride anyone doing so, and I would poke fun at them for making all the effort. I was doing this all out of my own dissatisfaction with my own health and lack of fitness. I was lashing out not because of what they were doing, but because I felt that these things were beyond my ability. I thought there was no way I could be motivated enough, dedicated enough, or that I could persevere through the challenges required to become healthy, lose weight, and get fit.

I was so wrong on so many levels.

Image-1 (8)First, I was wrong about hating exercise. I don’t hate it. In fact, I actually enjoy it now. I enjoy how it makes me feel, I enjoy the challenge, and I enjoy making progress. I actually get cranky if I can’t exercise, and it’s something I don’t dread or shy away from anymore. I don’t have to psyche myself up to run or exercise. I just get out there and begin. It’s glorious.

Second, I said I would never exercise. I have proved myself wrong here, too.

Third, I restrict my intake of anything with added and processed sugar, grains, beans, dairy, alcohol, and soy. I restrict these severely, and in doing so, I have lost over 150 lbs in 20 months, I now have lower blood sugar (normal!), lower LDL cholesterol levels (normal!), no more fatty liver disease, and improved flexibility and mobility due to a lack of fat stores all over my body. I’ve been able to start running and getting fit, the result of which is that I am now in the National Guard at age 50.

Fourth, I was very wrong in lashing out at people who were doing what they could to get healthy, fit, and lose weight. Because they were able to do something I wasn’t able to do, I did what weaker people do: I lashed out at that which I didn’t understand, didn’t know, or was different from me. I’m not proud of it, and I’m not making excuses for it. I was wrong.

IMG_6898

I feel like I’m living a new life in a new body. I hardly recognize the person I was. For over 20 years, I was the fat guy. I was the embarrassed guy. I was the unfit guy. I was the sarcastic and mean guy to anyone who took their health and fitness seriously. It affected me in every aspect of my life. Now that I’m healthy and fit, I feel that I am a better person. At least I keep trying, day in and day out. That’s probably the biggest change of all: I keep trying.

Back from the field

I’m back.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been on active duty orders with the Texas Army National Guard training in Ft. Hood. I had pre-written articles on my blog to post automatically while I was gone to keep the information flowing, to help keep people motivated, and to hopefully encourage or inspire people to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Now, I’m back and ready to continue updating the blog and adding more information.

Before I go on, I’m sure some people are wondering what we were doing for two weeks. Well, we were doing our military jobs in the same way that we would if we were called upon by our Nation to go to war. We set up our camp, our command center, and our artillery pieces (I’m in an artillery unit). Our forward observers went out to their observation posts, and we commenced firing some big guns making big booms.

The biggest challenge for me was food. As someone who eats Paleo, the food that was served to us was typically very non-Paleo with a few exceptions. Breakfast was normally some sort of scrambled egg product (still not sure if it was real eggs or not) and sausage. I’m pretty certain the sausage had sugar in it, but I ate them anyway. Lunch was supposed to be an MRE (so unbelievably non-Paleo that I didn’t eat any) and dinner was overwhelmingly non-Paleo with a few exceptions like steak (well, over cooked meat) and potatoes and, well, yeah. That was the only exception (twice). The only other exception was fruit that we received at breakfast or dinner. Apples, oranges, pears, and bananas were always welcome. The rest of the time, I ate food I brought with me. A typical meal consisted of one RX Bar, two Epic bars, and 1/3 cup of almonds or cashews. The end result is that I was able to stay Paleo, I was able to sufficiently feed my body, and I didn’t have cravings between meals.

I was worried about gaining weight while I was in the field for two reasons: first, because I wasn’t going to be able to run three times a week as I normally like to, and second, because of the non-Paleo carb-filled food. In the end, my fears turned out to be for nothing. I lost a solid 5 lbs in the two weeks I was out there. My three consecutive weigh-ins after coming home were 162.9 lbs. I’m happy with that.

I am proud of being in the National Guard, and I’m honored to be serving with an exceptional group of fine young men and women. It was hard, it was tough, and at times, I was miserable, but I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. I am looking forward to my next training weekend, and more time in the field. At least now I know I can survive on the food I take and my health won’t suffer for it.

Nothing like seeing the scale in the right place

For the past three weigh-ins, I’ve been under 165 lbs. As low as 163.8 lbs, and as high as 164.2 lbs. My body fat ratio is hovering just below or just at 10%. I had to sit down and let that sink in for a bit. It’s truly remarkable that I now have a healthy body. Just over 20 months ago, my weight was 290 lbs and my body fat ratio was an alarming 47.3%.

I didn’t do extreme workouts to lose the weight. No Crossfit, no 3-hour daily workouts, no video fitness programs. It was all done through changing what I eat from foods rich in sugar, grains, beans, soy, and dairy to eating foods with meat, vegetables, and no added sugar. It was literally that simple.

Of course, it wasn’t easy. The first week was hell; I’m not going to sugarcoat that. But after getting through that first week, it was quite easy. In fact, it got easier and easier as time went by. I remember after losing 50 lbs in four months that I was eating my breakfast of bacon and eggs and laughing at the fact that my weight was dropping without me having to do any physical activity. All I had to do was eat delicious, filling foods. How crazy was that?

Now, 20 months in, I can’t be any happier. My weight is where I want it to be. My fitness level is where I want it. My life is where I want it to be. The craziest part: it all started with a Whole30.

Even though I tell people all the time that the scale is not to be used as a primary source of gauging one’s progress on a diet, it is the easiest measure to use. Seeing friendly numbers makes me do a happy dance in the mornings. And yes, it feels good, man.