Emulate Successful People

This is advice given to people in regards to careers, professions, sports, and perhaps even when it comes to personality traits or skills. However, one area that this is often not mentioned is health and weight loss. Subconsciously, it’s why I ignored thin people for decades when they tried to lecture me about weight loss, but when I heard from people who had successfully lost weight and kept it off, it planted a seed that grew and welled up within me until I could no longer ignore it.

I was speaking to a soldier this weekend about weight and fitness. In the military, we are held to height and weight standards, and if you cannot meet them, you are discharged from the military. It’s pretty serious, and for those planning on making a career of the military, it can be devastating. This particular soldier is currently overweight, and on his last physical fitness test, only made the standard through what is called “Taping” which is when body fat is calculated using a tape measure, measuring the neck and the waist. He very barely passed his physical fitness test as well. He was happy to get past it, but has since let his weight balloon and has not been running.

I don’t lecture soldiers about their weight, but I do offer advice. I want to plant the seed. I want to let them know that I was once fat and I overcame that and regained control of my health through diet. I show them photos of me when I was overweight, and they can see that I’m no longer anywhere near being beyond the height and weight standards. They also know I have a solid APFT score (my last one was 273 out of 300), and that I’m fit.

This particular soldier exemplified what is so wrong with our nutritional education in this country, and it was extremely frustrating. He told me he had a diet approved by a certified nutritionist who had a master’s degree in nutrition. His diet included diet drinks, diet smoothies, all the fruit he wants to eat, and low-fat meats. His dinners were sub sandwiches.

I wanted to scream.

This poor guy is working his tail off, buying a bunch of diet products, and doing what he thinks is the right way to lose weight and get healthy while not losing any weight at all and doing the exact opposite. On top of that, he’s joined a gym and is working out for an hour or two every day, and yet, he’s not losing any weight. He’s frustrated, but he was adorably optimistic. He told me he’s not losing weight, but that he’s building muscle mass, which is better.

I tried to tell him his diet was wrong. I tried to tell him you can’t exercise away a bad diet. I tried to tell him, as gently as I could, that this nutritionist who approved his diet may not have the latest information available about nutrition. It all fell on deaf ears.

And so, I will likely see this poor guy not make his height/weight standards, he will likely not make the taping standards, and will likely be discharged because of it. And it breaks my heart.

If you want to lose weight, emulate someone who has walked the same path as you. They know the in’s and out’s, the pitfalls, the shortcuts, and the path to success. If you don’t trust me, find someone you do who has lost the weight and kept it off. Avoid people trying to sell you stuff, because their motivations are typically more about the money and less about helping you get healthy. You don’t necessarily have to avoid people who have never been overweight, but there’s comfort in knowing that someone will completely understand your journey in a way only another overweight person can. If I can be that person for you, I’m honored to do so.

Get some good, quality sleep

Here’s a weight loss tip that I don’t see often enough yet has such a large impact on weight loss efficacy: get some sleep. Get lots of sleep. Get at least 7-8 hours of solid, restful sleep. Why? Because your body needs it to lose weight properly.

Why do people weigh themselves in the morning? Because you actually lose weight while you sleep. Your body processes and metabolizes fat and you exhale it. Seriously. I thought it was crazy until I looked it up. Of course, the processes going on are more complicated than that, but at its most simple level, your body is processing fat and you exhale a lot of that weight as vapor.

This process takes a long time, however, and the more sleep you get, the better the process works. For whatever reason, I find that my own weight loss is maximized with a minimum of 7.5 hours of sleep. 8+ is even better, but I always try for at least 7.5 hours. Whenever I find I’m not losing weight, I usually find that I haven’t been getting enough sleep (among other things like eating too much, eating sweets, or maybe some non-Paleo things had crept into the diet as well).

Get sleep. Get good, restful sleep, and get at least 7-8 hours of it. The difference it makes extends far beyond just the scale. You’ll also feel better and more ready to take on the world!

New Favorites

Some new favorites by Sherry.

Our Daily Bacon

Hey guys!  I have a couple of new favorite recipes you have to try.  Whether you’re new to Whole30 or Paleo, or you’re a seasoned veteran like us, both of these recipes are super yummy.

The first one is the Layered Taco Casserole from Living Loving Paleo.  If you use just-ripe plantains that are sweet but still firm, you end up with an amazing flavor paired with the spices in the ground beef.  I made guacamole on my Sunday cook-day to go along with this one and portioned it out in small plasticware cups so it could be added after the meals were heated.  We also added a dollop of lactose-free sour cream to it when we had it for dinner, which really took the flavor up another notch.  Spanish cauli-rice pairs nicely with this one too.

The second actually came about during one of my famous “E.J’s hungry, wants…

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Psychological Preparation

Before undertaking a change in lifestyle like doing a Whole30 or adopting the Paleo Diet, the first piece of advice most people read is that preparation is key. Preparation in cleaning out the pantry, buying the right foods, preparing foods for the week, etc.  What I’ve never seen covered, however, is the mental or psychological preparation one must do before starting a lifestyle changing diet.

Framing for success. What I mean by this is that you need to focus on the foods you can eat and not those you cannot. Create a list of foods you can eat and you will find that a lot of food you already enjoy is on that list. When we focus on what we can no longer eat, we have a harder time foregoing them or resisting temptation. By re-framing our concept of what foods we enjoy and like to eat with those that are permissible, you find yourself not missing the anti-Paleo foods.

Relationship with food. You need to change your relationship with food from something that is comforting, soothing, or entertaining to that of being fuel. Life happens between meals, not at them. This is difficult in our society, as many gatherings happen around meals, and that isn’t going to change. What I’m talking about is non-gathering meals. Meals should be about fueling the body, about feeling comfortable but not stuffed. Once you realize that food is fuel and it’s okay for it to taste good, but that should be secendary to its primary purpose; energy.

Prepare to fail; it’s okay. This one is a fine line, because I’m not saying it’s okay to cheat (or sabotage your own progress). What I am saying is that, especially in the beginning, there will be times when you just can’t be 100% strict, or when temptation is too much. It’s okay. It happens to all of us. The important part is to just get back up and keep going as if nothing happened and avoid falling again. It’s okay to stumble. Just get back up.

Going into a different lifestyle without mental or psychological preparation makes it harder to succeed. It’s like a soldier going into battle without all the weapons at his disposal. Prepare yourself mentally and you give yourself a better chance to succeed.

Tools for Weight Loss Success

I used to use a web site called Calorie Count when I tried to lose weight back in 2012. I was able to lose around 40 lbs, but stalled there and quickly lost motivation when I got sick for about a week. After I got better, I had fallen off the proverbial wagon and gained the weight back (and then some). I failed miserably.

The sad part is that I was very diligent in tracking all my calories. If it went into my mouth, it was logged and tracked. I knew exactly how many calories I was eating each day, and initially, it seemed to help me stay under the limits for my weight. Then, when I hit a bump and was unable to track so rigorously, I easily fell of the wagon. When I look back as to why I failed, it’s because the food I was eating, while low calorie, just wasn’t filling or satisfying. I was always left hungry, and as my calorie requirements declined with my weight, I  was left feeling hungrier and hungrier. It was a recipe for failure.

About two years before I did my first Whole30, I got a Jawbone UP and used it every day thinking that having this fitness and sleep tracker would motivate me to walk more and sleep more. It did for a little bit, but then just became a reminder to me that I wasn’t doing what I thought was enough to lose weight. Like many, I had the mistaken belief that if I just walked more, I’d lose weight. Of course, this didn’t happen, and I continued to gain weight.

When I started my Whole30, I had a Fitbit Surge. This was a great device and helped me track my sleep which was very important. I learned that I needed a minimum of 7.5 hours of sleep to realize any weight losses during the night, and the Fitbit helped me track that. Once I began running, the GPS feature in the Fitbit Surge helped me track my progress and was a large part of my success in running.

I started using the Strava website and iPhone app to track my running and I even splurged for the pro version to use the advanced tracking features. I’m no marathon or speed runner, but I’m very interested in my running progress and I want to continue to improve. The pro features have been very helpful to me in gauging just how efficacious my workouts are and to track my progress and trends.

I recently switched over to the Garmin Fenix 3 HR, and this watch has been the best yet. I really feel it helps me track my running and sleep in better ways than any device or app before it, and checking my data points has become a part of my daily routine.

Could I do it without technology and apps? Certainly! I found that counting calories didn’t work for me at all while eating the Paleo Diet did (and it requires nothing more than cooking and eating meat and vegetables). I could even run and get my exercise without using high-tech devices and apps, but utilizing them has given me added information which aids my progress and helps me understand which areas I need to work on.

There is no justification that makes being overweight acceptable

I get it. Self esteem is a tricky thing. Most people lack it in large amounts, while some have none. Oftentimes, it is related to a person’s self image, and when they are overweight in a society that is increasingly overweight yet worships being thin, it’s easy for self esteem to fall. The solution isn’t to make being overweight okay, though, because it’s not. Being overweight is a problem. It’s not a natural state for us to be in.

This gets me in trouble, and people think I’m being insensitive or outright mean. What I’m being is honest. The human body isn’t designed to be fat. We are able to carry fat as a survival mechanism, but if you live in a first-world country in 2017, there’s no excuse to be fat. Eating with abandon and eschewing exercise is the cause of our obesity epidemic. Coupled with nauseatingly bad nutrition advice from our government and medical industries have done nothing but exacerbated the issue.

Now, you have people posting on Facebook self affirmations from overweight models talking about how they had to accept themselves, to say daily affirmations in the morning telling themselves they had worth, etc all because they are overweight in a society that values being thin. The takeaway shouldn’t be that people who are not thin are made to feel bad. They definitely shouldn’t feel good about being overweight. They should be concerned and should want to fix that, because that makes you healthy. The myth of the healthy overweight person is just that; a myth. Don’t believe me? Talk to your doctor.

But I digress. Some people just don’t care about their health enough to do anything about it. We are a culture of ease, and losing weight and getting healthy takes discipline, motivation, self-control, and perseverance. In short, it takes effort. The majority of us in our culture refuse to life a finger or, more aptly, refuse to put down the fork to lose weight. They accept their being overweight as inevitable. I know, because for a long time, that was me.

If you’re lucky,  you get to a point where you say, “NO MORE” and change your lifestyle permanently. If  you’re lucky, you make this realization before a doctor tells you that you must do so or face a certain, early demise. If you’re lucky, you have the time to make the change before your body gives out. If you’re lucky, your body can withstand years of abuse through increased blood sugar, increased cholesterol, and fatty liver. How many of you have won the lottery?

I don’t judge people for being overweight. I don’t look down on anyone for being overweight. I know personally how easy it is to find ones self as an overweight person. I know how it feels to resign ones self to an early grave because of the mistaken belief that it takes a lot of exercise and starvation to lose weight. I know that’s why so many people are overweight; they don’t know you can lose weight by just eating different foods and NOT through starving. Heck, I lost my first 110 lbs without a single step of exercise!

Being overweight is not normal. It’s not good for us. It’s something that’s in our control, and we can change (unless you’re one of the ~.1% of the population with thyroid issues). The good news here is that it’s not nearly as hard as you think it is! There’s Whole30, Paleo, Keto, and others that are free, science-based, and efficacious. Stay away from the pills, powders, patches, and products that promise weight loss. All they deliver on is profits to the proprietors and disappointment to the dieter.

It’s not okay to be overweight. It will kill you. Do something about it while you can.

The difference between failure and success

One is a jackass. The other is a little donkey.

It happens to all of us; me included. You spend an entire week being good, eating well, getting exercise, and that Friday morning weight is looking great! Then, the weekend happens, you drink some alcohol, eat some food that’s non-Paleo, and then the Monday morning weigh in is a horror story. This morning, I weighed in the highest I’ve been in as long as I can remember. Horrifically high. I’m still reeling from it.

I don’t regret the weekend or the fun I had. The memories that were made and the good times were worth it all, but now, I have some serious work to do. Again. It’s the feeling I have inside right now that I hate. It’s a bit of fear coupled with regret. The trick is to channel that energy into motivation. This is where, I think, people fall off the wagon and fail.

I could easily slip into sadness, depression, and regret, but I won’t allow it. I know that the big picture is much more important, and that there will be times when my weight is up and there will be times when it gets back down to a normal spot. It’s easy to give up. It’s easy to surrender. It’s hard to keep fighting, to keep going, to get back up when you’ve fallen down.

I’m not ready to give up. I’m not ready to allow myself to get overweight again. I’m not going to wallow in self-pity and eat more. I am going to do just the opposite; I’m going to eat right, I’m going to run a little farther tonight, and I’m going to keep sticking to the plan. I may even forego my after dinner cookies this week. I’m going to do whatever it takes to get back down into my happy zone.

My health matters to me. It’s one of the most important things in my life. Without it, everything else is in jeopardy. I can’t allow this to slip. Neither can you.