Before and After Photos

It’s been a while since I posted some before and after photos of my wife and I. On Facebook, there’s a feature that posts memories from years past. The photo on the left was my favorite photo of my wife and I for a long time. It was taken in 2012 in Saugatuck, MI, and for a very long time, was probably the best photo of the two of us. As you can see, we were also rather heavy at the time.

Fast forward five years, almost to the day. The changes in both of us are remarkable. Every now and then, I look at old pictures of ourselves to remind me of how far we’ve come and why we are adhering so tightly to our diet and exercise plans. The photo on the right makes it all worthwhile.

Injuries and Running

I don’t often talk about running or fitness on this blog because I have a separate blog where I post my runs and talk about it there. However, health and fitness do go hand-in-hand, and I’d be remiss if I were to ignore the topic of fitness here completely. With that said, I’ve been forced to desist from my usual three times per week runs due to a knee injury I sustained last Monday.

Were it an injury I incurred while running or doing some physical activity, I would have no problem with it, but the fact that it occurred while standing up from a chair in a restaurant makes it ridiculous to me. Earlier that afternoon, I had run three miles at a pretty good pace. I was back to making progress with my run times, and I was doing my minimum of 80 push ups prior to every run. I was feeling pretty good, and my wife andI went out for dinner. While standing up to go to the restroom, something in my right knee just felt off, and sure enough, for the following two days, the pain was pretty bad. It wasn’t like something tore; just a sharp pain from behind the right side of my knee.

I decided to let it rest, and while I had planned to run on Wednesday, I decided that I needed more rest as it was still a bit sore. Friday came and left without running, again due to lingering soreness, and since my wife and I were out of town on a trip to Austin, I decided to not run.

Monday came and went without a run as well, but this time, it was due to the weather; storms were rolling through Houston, and the amount of lightning very close to my running area made me decide that safety was more important than getting back out on the road. I could have hit out exercise cycle instead, but I figured an extra day of healing would be more beneficial.

So here I am. It’s Tuesday morning, and I have plans to run tonight. I hope to be able to just get out there, hit my 80 push ups, and run my three-mile minimum. I don’t care about time today. I am just going to run. I don’t have a PFT coming up for another six months, so I have time to build up my speed later. For now, I just need to run for the cardio and to keep my leg muscles strong.

I have pushed myself in the past beyond what I should have due to not wanting to lose any of the gains or progress I’ve made through training. This has led me to have some recurring pain in areas like my lower back/left gluteus maximus. Hopefully, this break will help that pain as well. I also have a nagging pain in my left elbow outer tendon that has been pretty persistent. I think that it is more serious than the knee injury, as it continues to ache even without doing push ups for a week. Like an idiot, however, I will do my push ups tonight. The elbow doesn’t seem to hurt from push ups. I think it has more to do with sleeping posture. But I digress.

Sometimes, you gotta let your body heal. Sometimes, even when you don’t want to, you gotta take a break. Now, after a week and a day, I’m ready to get back into my running. I miss it. (And I can’t believe I just wrote that; me, missing a run!)

Perseverance

I feel great. I look great. My health is good. I’m fit. These are all things I couldn’t say two years ago.

Two years ago, I weighed nearly 300 lbs. My health was failing. I was probably going to die within 5-10 years after a slow, agonizing decline of health. Two years ago, however, I was able to change that, turn my life around, and I got healthy and fit.

How did I do it? Well, aside from the Paleo Diet and Whole30, I used a whole lot of perseverance. I stuck with it even when I didn’t want to, when I felt like I wasn’t making progress, or when I was tempted to eat non-Paleo foods. I stuck with it; I persevered. I ignored the temptations; I persevered.

It wasn’t easy, even though Paleo is simple.

I wasn’t Superman; I was a former Marine who persevered and stuck to the Paleo Diet.

I wasn’t about to let myself fail. This was my last chance at a normal life of being healthy and fit. Nothing was going to get in my way. Nothing.

That is what perseverance gets you: results.

Getting back to brass tacks

I’m back to being strict on my diet. I am not allowing snacks, anything non-Paleo, or alcohol for the foreseeable future. I need to get my weight back down in time for Halloween, the Marine Corps Birthday Ball, and the St. Barbara’s Dining Out (my National Guard Artillery Ball). I have to look good in uniform, and the costumes I’m buying require me to be thin.

The good news (and it seems like there’s always good news there if you really look for it) is that I’m not really overweight. I’m up in weight, but my clothes still fit properly and I haven’t added holes to my belts. I just feel pudgy from the water weight, and I know that through eating properly, my body will let go of the excess water weight and allow me to get back down into the low 160’s which is where I like my weight to be.

I enjoyed the slight detour I had over the past three weeks, but now I’m paying the piper and having to go back to strict adherence to the Paleo Diet. And I’m totally okay with that. Fortunately, I love the food, and my body responds well to the diet. Now, it’s just time to make it happen.

Vacation Food

I love In-n-Out burgers. I know that my friends in Texas will say that it is a travesty to say what I’m about to say, but here goes anyway: I prefer it 100% of the time to Whataburger. There; I said it.

This weekend, my wife and I are in Austin for a weekend getaway, and there are In-n-Out burgers here. Even though I just got off two weeks of active duty in the National Guard and ate more than I should have and I wrote extensively about how I need to get back to my 100% strict Paleo Diet, here I am in a place that has the most amazing fast-food hamburgers in the world, and… well, I was going to have one. But then I didn’t. I did, however, have some bread pudding for dessert last night as well as some alcohol. Paleo? Nope. Delicious? Absolutely. Guilt? None.

If I’ve learned anything since going Paleo is that one meal or one food item that isn’t Paleo isn’t going to kill me or make me regain the 150 lbs overnight. Will I feel ill effects? More than likely, but I’m willing to accept that for a meal that consists of a food I enjoy. It’s literally one of my favorite things, and since it’s a special weekend of sorts, I’m going to do it.

Will I eat more than one non-Paleo meal while on this weekend getaway? No. Not even an In-n-Out Single hamburger with fries and iced tea. As much as I would love to, I can’t just throw caution to the wind and go off-plan completely two days in a row. I ate the bread pudding last night; that was enough of a diversion. Now, it’s time to get back to Paleo, eat right, get back to running (now that my knee feels better) and back into the swing of being healthy and fit.

Think of the children

When I was at my fattest, I had two kids I was responsible for raising and turning into responsible adults. My kids mean the world to me, and every decision I made was with them in mind, and with their best interest at the fore. In looking back, however, I see that I failed to recognize one of the most important effects I was having on my kids: being an example of how to eat properly.

My daughter was always thin. She is still thin. Despite my being a poor example of eating properly, she stayed thin because she never ate very much. We used to joke that she ate like a bird. Eating at restaurants was always maddening because even when ordering a child’s portion, she rarely finished 1/3 of it. In retrospect, I should have praised her more for that instead of getting upset at her for wasting money. My son, on the other hand, is another story.

He was thin and healthy until the age of 7 when he started gaining a lot of weight. I recognize now that it was due to emotional stress as a result of my divorce and the death of my father (who was raising the kids with me). My son has struggled with weight ever since. Being the hard worker that he is, he was able to lose weight through his sheer will and a combination of diet and exercise. He worked very hard to lose weight and get fit for football in high school, and for a while, he stayed trim and fit. After high school, however, his weight once again skyrocketed. It wasn’t until about 6 months ago that he decided once again to lose weight, but this time, he went with the Paleo Diet and has lost nearly 50 lbs and looks and feels great.

I bear a lot of the guilt for his getting heavy. I was a poor example when it came to eating. I ate anything and everything, and when he wanted to eat with me, whatever I was eating, I let him. I didn’t teach him anything at all about nutrition. I didn’t show him that moderation was important, and since I hadn’t yet learned about the Paleo Diet, I wasn’t able to steer him away from foods that made him gain so much weight.

My advice to parents today is to teach your children about nutrition. Stay away from the added-sugar, grains, beans, soy, and dairy. Educate yourself so that you can guide your children to a healthy lifestyle that will enable them to live long, healthy lives. Whenever I see overweight children, I feel so badly for them. I know it’s not their fault they are overweight; they are only doing what their parents are teaching them. They see us as their heroes and role models. It’s up to us to think of them and do the right thing even when that eclair or chocolate cake looks so good.

Hating the scale; we are not friends right now

I would prefer to weigh on the low side of 160’s, and for a while, I was there. Then, I had the Hurricane Harvey response duty, and while there, I gained some weight. Now, after 4 days, I’m still the same weight I was when I got back. I will admit to two nights of drinking this week which haven’t helped matters at all. It’s all my fault, yet I want to kick the messenger (the scale) for giving me such unhappy news.

Sunday night, I not only drank a lot, but I had a Whataburger hamburger for lunch and three slices of pizza for dinner. Why did I do this? Because it was our last day on active duty, we celebrated. A lot. I know it was way more sugar than my body is used to, and I paid for it by being puffy (waterlogged on the inside) with bloating. I was good Monday through Wednesday, but Thursday night, I had some ciders with friends I haven’t seen in a while. So… yep, weight is still up.

Then, there’s this weekend where I’m going to Austin with my wife for a weekend getaway. Guess what they have in Austin? In-n-Out Hamburgers. Guess what I will eat while I’m there? At least one, if not two hamburgers. What will that do to my weight? At best, it will keep it up. At worst, I’ll gain a little.

But it’s okay.

I know how to lose the weight, I know what it takes, and I will get it done. I’m not stressed about it, just a little disappointed.

The great news is that eating right on Paleo is pretty darned easy, and I love the food, so I won’t suffer while dropping the last 10 lbs. Again.

Not quite a Whole30

What I’m going through right now isn’t quite a solid Whole30, but it’s close. I’m having to re-address my serving sizes, to ensure that I’m not eating anything with added sugar, grains, beans, soy, or dairy, and I’m having to restrict the number of times I eat to get away from snacking. Even though I did a good job of eating Paleo-friendly foods over the past few weeks while I was on State Active Duty orders for the National Guard, I ate far more than I should have (and way more than I normally do) and I am certain that more than a few of the meals I ate had non-Paleo ingredients in them. When you’re working 19 hours a day, sometimes it’s hard to muster the discipline to resist a breakfast burrito with cheese.

While I’m not on a Whole30, it’s feeling like one. I definitely have some of the flu-like symptoms and the headache that accompanies it. I know what it’s from, so I know how to get past it. I know how bad it can get, but I also know how quickly I will start feeling better, having more energy, and that my body will heal and recover faster from ailments and injury. I just need to get past these first few days.

Back to it

For over a year, I wrote articles for this blog every day. Often, I would write three, four, or up to eight articles in a day and schedule them out to give me some flexibility in my day-to-day life and to make sure that there was always a post up every morning in the event I wasn’t able to write one. That plan worked pretty well until Hurricane Harvey came to town.

As a soldier in the Texas Army National Guard, I was called to active duty to aid in the relief efforts as the State’s response to the hurricane. I was fortunate in that I worked at our armory helping to keep track of our vehicles, soldiers, locations, missions, and assisted with logistics and planning. That meant that I had catered food for two weeks, and while it was good food that oftentimes included Paleo options, there was very little spare time available for me to continue writing my PaleoMarine articles.

Well, I’m happy to say I’m back to it. Not just writing my articles, but back to my strict Paleo lifestyle. Well, it may not be considered strict to some, but I adhere to the Paleo Diet as closely as possible. I never eat grains, anything with added sugar, or beans/soy unless it’s a very special event or holiday. I never take part in cheat days or cheat meals, and I scrutinize anything that goes onto my plate.

I’m back to my regular life. I have some challenges ahead of me, but I will succeed, and I will persevere. I am happy to be back, and I hope that people find my articles to be valuable and of-use.

Back in Civilian Clothing

After two weeks of being on active duty orders in the State of Texas supporting the relief operations for Hurricane Harvey, I am back in my civilian clothes. It was an honor, as it always is, to be in uniform for an extended period of time, but as the relief efforts wind down, so does the need for soldiers, so I was taken off orders and I’m now back to my civilian job.

What that means for me, primarily when it comes to Paleo, is that I’m back to eating the good food my wife makes for us. What I mean by good food is not only delicious, but more importantly, healthy. You see, I gained 4 lbs over the past two weeks. That weight was put on not through the eating of non-Paleo foods, but because I ate too much and did too little activity. While I’ve never been a person to be successful at a CICO diet (Calories in/Calories out), I now have some first-hand knowledge and experience with how much it matters to eat the right amount of food and get exercise, even if the food you’re eating is good.

I will be working hard to get back to my normal schedule of running and my normal eating habits. I got used to eating more than normal as well as eating more Paleo cookies than normal and also eating snacks (either almonds or cashews) which are all things I need to get away from. I know I can lose the 4 lbs fairly easily; it just takes discipline.

The hard part for me will be the running as I hurt a tendon in my right knee during yesterday’s run. It didn’t hurt until this morning, and it’s been aching all day. I’m hoping it heals quickly; I need my running to feel normal.

Sometimes, we fall off the wagon and even if we’re hanging onto the wagon and being dragged behind it, there will be negative effects. I’m dealing with that now: extra weight and a distinct loss of muscle definition in my torso. But, I will get past this. I will regain my abs and lose the weight. I’ve done it before, I know what it takes, and I’m going to make it happen.