I’ve been there

img_6470I was obese. I was always tired, always eating, always hungry. I felt like I was trapped and doomed to a shortened life due to my weight and failing health. When I thought that any chance for me to lose the weight was expended, I turned to Whole30 and the Paleo Diet. Those two programs saved my life.

I see the same ads on TV, Facebook, and the rest of the Internet that you see. Beautiful and sculpted bodies all telling you how to get their beautiful abs, tight stomachs, and how to lose weight to look as fantastic as they do. The problem is that many, if not the vast majority of those people, have never been obese. No, it’s not a mark of pride. I am ashamed and embarrassed that I weighed over 312 lbs at my highest. That’s horrible, and I truly wish I’d have had the education and information to have kept me from reaching that high of a weight. But my point is that those people who have never been so heavy and never had to struggle with losing it the way I did can never truly know the struggles.

I know.

That’s not to say people who have never been obese don’t have good information. Many do. But when someone who can eat just about anything in any amount and still stays thin tells someone like me who gains weight easily that I just need to, “Eat in moderation, bud,” I want to strangle them. No, “Bud,” it’s not that easy for the rest of us.

I don’t say anything here that I don’t believe, and I don’t sugarcoat any of it. I don’t like sugar (sorry for that dad joke there… but I am a dad, so…). Everything I write about is from my experience with losing over 150 lbs, 110 lbs of it without exercise. It can be done; I’m literally living proof.

And that’s the point. I am proof that an obese person can merely change their diet and lose dramatic amounts of weight and regain health and possibly years of life.

Simple Food Rules

People mistakenly think The Paleo Diet is hard. It’s not. It’s actually quite simple. Eat foods that avoid:

  • Added sugar/processed sugar
  • Beans/legumes/soy
  • Grains
  • Dairy
  • Alcohol

While those are the basic rules, I think that Michael Pollen’s Food Rules are actually a good addition, and they make a lot of sense:

  • Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
  • Avoid foods containing ingredients you wouldn’t keep in your pantry.
  • Avoid food products with more than 5 Ingredients.
  • Avoid anything “lite”, “low-fat” or “non-fat”
  • Avoid food you see on television.
  • Shop around the walls of the grocery store; avoid the middle.
  • Eat mostly plants.
  • Eat your colors.
  • Eat animals that have eaten well themselves (most animals do not do well eating grain, just like us).
  • Eat all the junk food you want as long as you make it yourself.

There’s also a GREAT website I enjoy and I think you should check it out, too! It’s called MUST HIKE MUST EAT, and even if you don’t hike, there’s LOTS of great information there.

Get some rest

Study after study has shown how important sleep is to not only our mental and physical health, but it turns out it’s super-important for weight loss efficacy, too! I know first-hand that if I don’t get around seven and a half hours of sleep, I will likely not lose any weight in the night.

Eating right and having a great mindset for weight loss and better health can all be undone by not getting enough sleep. More often than not, when I’m analyzing why my weight loss has stalled, it usually comes down to one of two things: either I am not eating enough and put my body into starvation mode, or I’m not getting enough sleep. This weekend, a lack of sleep has been the culprit.

My weight is down a bit finally from it’s highest, but still not where I feel comfortable. Of course, I didn’t get enough sleep again last night, so I plan on rectifying that tonight; I’m going for a solid eight hours.

Sleep isn’t just good for your mind; it’s good for your body and it helps you lose weight. Make sure you are doing everything you can to set yourself up for success. Sleep on that!

The Weight Loss Trap

It’s easy to fall into a trap of, “Look what I did to lose weight! It’s so easy! You can do it too! Just send $X and I’ll tell you how!” I see ads all the time on Facebook promising the fast, easy, and BEST way to lose weight. The one thing they don’t do: tell you the full truth. So I will do it for you here, and for free: eat meat and vegetables and avoid sugar and grains.

Seriously.

You don’t want to do Paleo or Keto or any program or diet with a name. OK; that’s cool. I don’t care what you call it. Heck, I just call it “The way I eat to stay healthy.” It just happens to be Paleo.

Don’t fall into the trap. There are no easy and fast ways to lose weight. You have to do the work. Fortunately, that work is made simple by sticking to meat and vegetables. Stay away from anything with added sugar, grains, dairy, and alcohol.

Am I selling you anything here? Why would I spend all this time and effort in giving away free information on my blog when I could be hawking some sort of magic way to lose weight and get healthy? There are many reasons, but here are some.

  1. I have been overweight, unfit, and felt helpless. Everything I tried failed. I fell victim to marketing that sounded amazing but never delivered. I know how it feels to be in that position, and I never want to be part of doing that to anyone else.

  2. I feel amazing now. Healthy, fit, thinner, and with so much more energy. I did all this without paying anyone or taking any products aimed at health and weight loss.

  3. I believe that if everyone were taught a proper diet from childhood, we wouldn’t have the obesity epidemic we are in.

  4. I believe that everyone can be healthier and thinner if they are given the right information.

  5. I want everyone to be successful at being healthy. I found a way that works for me. I want to help others find a way that works for them because I hate seeing people unhappy and unhealthy and feeling trapped.

You didn’t have to pay anything to read this. You don’t have to pay anything to read my blog. Anything I ever will write will always be available for free here on my website. Yes, I’m writing a book, but like Whole30 or The Paleo Diet, everything can be found here online for free. My book will only condense the information and put it into a more concise and succinct package. And no, you don’t need to buy anything. Just continue reading my blog, continue searching for information about healthy diets (that don’t include sugar, grains, or dairy), and get some exercise three times a week.

The million dollar answer to the eternal question of, “How can I lose some weight safely and in a healthy way” is right here for you, and it’s free. Don’t pay for anything that promises weight loss without effort. It just isn’t true.

Cravings Stink

I haven’t had any cravings in a very long time (probably two years!), but I remember how horrible they were. Especially in the beginning when I was breaking the sugar habit and was getting hungry every couple of hours. It’s no secret: cravings stink.

How did I get past them? There are a few strategies my wife and I employed to get us through.

Nuts. These are really great to sate a little craving and are a healthy alternative to just about anything else. NEVER go with candy, chocolate, or even fruit. I know many dietitians and experts will say a fruit is a good snack, but I disagree. You’re trying to break a sugar habit. Why feed it some sugar? Even natural sugars are sugar and will continue the cycle of cravings.

Coffee or tea. I know Whole30 wants you to quite everything with caffeine, but I can’t just drink regular water. I need something in my water to flavor it. Now, I never use any sweetener at all. Using any sweeteners or eating snacks with artificial sweeteners acts on the brain the same way sugar does in regards to cravings. It’s best to keep anything sweet or artificially sweet out of your snacks. There are some very tasty teas and coffees that can be had without sweetener.

Activity. Do something. If you experience a craving, you might just be bored. Find something to occupy your mind. Read an article. Clean some dishes. Take out the trash. Take a walk around the block. Do anything that uses your mind. The next thing you know, the craving is gone.

Think about what you ate last, and how long ago you ate. What you are experiencing may not be a craving, but may be actual hunger telling you it’s time to eat again. Maybe you ate too little at the previous meal. I’m guilty of doing that sometimes; eating too little, especially when I was in weight-loss mode. Now that I’m in maintenance, my meal sizes have crept up a bit, and I now find myself reducing the size of my portions more times than not. It’s a constant adjustment to find the right amount for each type of food versus your activity level.

Cravings don’t last forever. Once you’re free of sugar, the cravings subside and go away completely and then when you feel hungry, it’ll be because it’s actually time to eat your next meal, not feeding the sugar dragon.

Some of the most important skills needed to lose weight don’t involve diet

Seriously. If all it took was eating the right foods, nobody would be overweight. But we all know that eating the right foods is one of the main ways to lose weight, right? Well, something people don’t talk about often, or underestimate, is the mindset needed to get healthy and lose weight.

For me, it literally meant the different between success and failure.

Without dedication, I wouldn’t have lasted. There were times I felt a little hungry, but not really hungry enough to warrant a meal. In the pre-Paleo Diet days, I’d have eaten a chocolate bar or a few Dove treats. Now? I know it’s probably just boredom or thirst, and I take care of it accordingly.

Without motivation, I would have given up long ago. When I had to eat a Thanksgiving meal just two months after I started, I remember seeing my weight go up a few pounds. It was a little demotivating, but I got right back on the wagon and stuck with it. I knew that it was a small setback, but nothing major.

Without perseverance, I’d have lost my way. I knew that the journey I was embarking on in regards to my health, weight loss, and fitness were a long-term process, and that this was a change I was making for the rest of my life. I knew that the big changes I was looking for were not going to happen overnight, and they certainly wouldn’t happen if I wasn’t dedicated or had motivation to stay the course.

Most of all, there’s no way I could have succeeded without a positive mindset. I can’t state enough just how important it is to be positive and trust the process. You will have self-doubts and temptations to get through. There will be others, envious of your motivation and dedication and dissatisfied with their own ability to stick to a healthy diet, that will try to tear you down or get you to quit your healthy diet. I had to stay positive and stay above it all. I had to learn to filter out the negativity, and in some of my most trying and darkest times, it was my positive mindset that kept me going.

Losing weight and getting healthy isn’t all just what you eat. It’s what’s in your mind, and in your heart that can make all the difference in the world.