I’m only human

22687841_10210465040331400_952804666486237811_nI was looking at some of my posts over the past few months, and I noticed that I sometimes bounce all over the place emotionally in my posts. I go from being concerned and stressed about my weight to feeling more comfortable and confident. It goes back and forth. As I thought about why and how this happens, I concluded it has to do with the scale.

Many are quick to point out that the scale is not the best source of monitoring your health, yet it is one we all use. It’s a very easy thing to understand: big numbers bad, small numbers good. There is so much more to our health, however, and it’s why Whole30 recommends not even using a scale while doing a Whole30.

When I don’t consider the scale, I think about how I feel, how my clothes fit, how clear my mind is, how good I feel after a long walk, etc. These are the things that should all be just as important as that number on a scale. When taking all these data points into consideration, the scale falls away to be just another measure, not the sole measure.

However, I’m only human. I slip into old routines and habits, and sometimes, that darned scale gets the best of me. I know fluctuations of up to 5 lbs is normal for me; I’ve seen it! I need to continue to work on not letting it get to me, and to think about my weight in the same way I think about my retirement fund: it’s a long-term investment that should be monitored, but only periodically.

Does this mean I will stop weighing myself every morning? I wish. I will continue to weigh myself every morning and after every run, but I need to continue to wrap my head around the scale being just another data point. I use that data to help me make decisions about my food: type, content, and amount. I also am able to monitor my water retention and expulsion.

So, when you see me writing a post about how I need to get back to brass tacks and then a post or two later I’m talking about not stressing out over a few pounds gained, remember that not only am I only human, but I’m writing this blog as a means of venting my emotions and thoughts as I travel this journey that is living a cleaner, healthier life. It’s not a straight road, but one with curves, bumps, twists, and turns. It makes for a better trip that way.

Strict Diet vs Loose Diet

Eggs, sausage, and a pear. That was pretty strict.  No, that motor oil was not part of this breakfast.

I’ve been a bit loose with my diet over the holidays. For the past two years, the holidays caused me a lot of stress because I was in weight loss mode, and my mind had a hard time wrapping around eating non-compliant foods while trying to reach my goals. This year is different. I’m post-goal accomplished, and in maintenance mode. This has given me some freedom, and some perspective.

I have found that while my weight is up a little bit, it’s not up a lot, and it’s plateaued at a certain point. That point is still higher than I’d like it to be, but still well within my military height/weight requirements. What  is interesting to me is that with the increased calorie intake and change in food makeup (more fruits than usual), my weight has not really gotten out of control. In fact, aside from the small initial gain, it’s settled back to a spot I’m comfortable with over the holidays.

I know that my Whole30 starts January 2nd, and I know that my weight will come back down when I am on my Whole30. I also will resume my running and push ups on January 2nd (I’ve been giving some aches a chance to recover before they turn into more serious injuries), and that will help some, too. So, all in all, my head is in a good place with my current diet.

What does this mean to you? Well, it means that I’m covering some ground for you. I’m at a point now where I can experiment a bit with my diet to see how it affects me, my weight, my body composition, and how I feel. I’m happy to report that living a little outside my comfort zone in regards to my diet has resulted in only a minimal weight gain. How does this relate to you? Well, our bodies are all different, but if you’re like me, then it means that even if you’re indulging a bit over the holidays, you aren’t doing horrible, irreversible damage. You’re likely putting on a pound or two, but that will come off easily post-holidays.

I prefer the strict diet, honestly, but being able to partake in the Paleo-friendly treats has been nice. I will miss the chocolate covered orange peel candies, but I will savor the memories of enjoying them with some coffee by the fireplace. That’s what life is about: making memories.

Restaurant Options for Paleo

Sherry and I have always done our best to find restaurants that are either Paleo-friendly, or have Paleo options for us to eat when we don’t feel like cooking. Fortunately, there are many options available that are surprisingly Paleo. One such (not very surprising) restaurant is a local Mediterranean restaurant called Nadia’s.

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Me at Nadia’s in Spring, TX.

Just about all the meat options are grilled on a skewer with just some olive oil on it, and the staff substitute the rice with grilled skewered vegetables for us. On our last visit, the cook remembered that I ordered Baba Ganoush with cucumber slices substituting the pita slices, and he brought some out for me. I was thrilled! I love Baba Ganoush, and it’s surprisingly delicious with some cucumber slices. My main dish was Chicken Shawarma and Toum (a garlic sauce). The Shawarma is normally served on rice with salad, but they served it with the aforementioned grilled vegetables for me. Sherry got a mixed grilled plate which had some beef, lamb, and chicken, all of which she said was delicious.

The best part about all this food is that it’s very Paleo friendly. It’s also very reasonably priced, and relatively quick to prepare, so we don’t have to wait long for our food to show up. As a neat plus, the kitchen is open, so you can see everything being made as you wait. There are no surprises, and nothing to be concerned with. It’s great!

I will cover some other restaurant types here in the coming days to go over what Sherry and I are able to eat at different restaurants to give you an idea of what to look for when you find yourself out for dinner with family or friends or when you just don’t want to cook for yourself. There are always healthy options available.

What I’ve accomplished in two years and three months

In two years and three months, at the age of 50, I went from being nearly 300 lbs to being a soldier in the Texas Army National Guard. I fit into my Marine Corps dress blues uniform, and I’ve been able to attend both the Marine Corps Birthday Ball for two years in a row in uniform, and also my field artillery unit’s St. Barbara’s Ball. These are things that were unimaginable for me just two years and a few months ago.

I ran a 5k for the Arthritis Foundation. Not just once, but twice now. The first time, I ran it in 27+ minutes, and this past time, I finished in 26:45. Not the fastest, but at 1:10 faster than last year, I take that as a success!

I should have shaved, but it was cold out, and I wanted every bit of hair on me.

I run three times a week, and I constantly challenge myself to improve my pace and (sometimes) my distances ran. I eat well, and I try to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. I help people from all over the world learn to eat healthy foods to lose weight and regain good health.

I’ve been able to take adventures I never thought possible. I took hang glider lessons with my wife, did zip-lining, flew a WWII trainer bi-plane, and hiked up and down hills in Canada.

My most important accomplishment is being healthier. I am no longer Diabetic, my cholesterol is at normal levels, I no longer have circulation issues in my feet, I am no longer experiencing nerve tingling in my thighs, my skin is clearer, my teeth/gums are much healthier, and my vision even improved (my eyesight was being impacted by the Diabetes). No longer having to test my blood and take Metformin are huge wins in and of themselves! The fact of the matter is that I likely increased the amount of time I have left on this planet, and all it took was changing my diet. And that means more time with this amazing lady.

Sometimes I’m hard on myself when my weight goes back up, but if I look at it objectively, I’ve really made really good progress, I have the keys to staying healthy, and I can manage my weight even when it goes up temporarily. It’s all a process, and one I am learning more about every day.

I get emotional sometimes

mehMy weight fluctuations are something I expect and I can roll with, but whenever the fluctuations exceen the normal range I’m used to, I get upset. I am not upset at anyone or anything in particular, but I get upset with myself because I am in control of what goes into my body, and somehow, I’ve let myself down.

I don’t count my vacations in that; I knew from the outset I was going to imbibe way too much of foods that are not good for me and that it would result in weight gain. When I did get upset, it was not because I gained weight, but because I exceeded the gain I was expecting. It was more disappointment than anger, really.

My wife knows when I’m at the top of my “Happy Weight Range” because I get cranky and I get very picky with my serving sizes and I decline snacks and desserts. When I’m at the bottom of the Happy Weight Range, I allow myself a little more leeway.

My emotions are tied to my overall health because I was unhealthy for so long and I don’t ever want to feel that way again. I never want to go back to that. I have nightmares about looking in the mirror and being overweight again. It’s probably not right, and no, I don’t think of myself as hideous or ugly when I’m overweight. It’s not that at all. It’s all about how I feel, how many things I can do now, and ultimately, how much healthier I am.

So yes, I get emotional. I know it’s not the best thing to do or be when it comes to weight, especially when it’s just a number on a stupid device, but dang it, it gets me. Fortunately for me, I am making the progress I was expecting and that I knew I can make by eating right; down 7 lbs in two days just from eating my good Paleo food. That water weight is dropping fast, and I should be back into the 160’s by next week.

Flying Economy Class

file (1)I have written about this in the past, but it never ceases to strike me so profoundly that I’ve lost a lot of weight as it does when I sit into an airline seat in economy class.

Airline seats are roughly 16.5″ to 18″ wide, depending on the airplane type and the airline’s generosity. The photo above is me sitting in an Airbus A319 which is a pretty small and tight airplane. However, whereas in the past I’d have had a lot of squeezing to do to get into that seat, that is no longer the case.


In the second photo which was on our way back to Houston from NYC, I am sitting in a Boeing 737NG, and the seats are a bit wider and allowed me to even stretch out a bit. It was nice.

One thing I have trouble with now, however, is my butt. That’s right, I said it: my butt. Without all the padding there now, I actually feel sore when sitting for too long. I have to keep moving about, putting my weight on different parts of my backside to keep from being in too much pain. The downside of having lost all the weight: I seem to have lost my butt.

I’ll take it, though. Compared to the embarrassment and discomfort that accompanied every airline flight I ever took when I was heavy, a little pain in the butt is a small price to pay for legroom and the ability to pull down the tray table comfortably. Besides, no matter how much my butt hurts, it’s not anywhere near as painful as squeezing into a seat when you’re over 300 lbs.

Merry Christmas!

From the PaleoMarine home to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas!

Sherry and I in The Woodlands, TX on December 23rd, 2017.

Today is a day full of feasting, drinking, and being merry. As we celebrate Christmas on the 24th, Sherry did a great job of keeping our meal Paleo (and of course, I forgot to take photos!). Although I ate a lot more than I should have, it ended up being my one meal for the afternoon and evening. In the grand scheme of things, I am pretty sure there was no harm done with the volume of food I had. I did eat a snack a little later in the evening of a slice of Paleo banana bread, but again, I’m pretty sure I did a good job of not over-eating for the day.

With that said, enjoy the day. Enjoy the time with loved ones, family, and friends. Don’t beat yourself up if you overeat or indulge in non-Paleo foods and drinks. Today is not the day for that. Make tomorrow the first day back from the non-Paleo foods, and carry on. You will find that the damage was minimal, and that you’re going to feel fine.

As for me, I’m going to run today. I don’t know when, but at some point, I’m going to get out on the track and go for my three miles. I have to. It’s been two weeks. My legs should be ready now. I just need to remember not to push myself too much.

Merry Christmas!

Perseverance. Again.

8a7a9bd7-38d8-4dc4-a104-720fd19d8fc1If there’s anything I learned becoming a Marine was perseverance is key to success. Motivation, determination, dedication; these are all important as well, but ultimately, it’s perseverance that gets you through. Short-term gratification is easy. It doesn’t take much to think of something and quickly satisfy that desire. Think of craving some chocolate that’s in a bag on your desk, or perhaps craving a soda in the refrigerator. Within moments, you can sate that desire. Long-term gratification, on the other hand, is something that takes patience. Think of completing a course, degree, or getting through boot camp. Now, I think of weight loss as the same type of goal: long-term, important, and big.

I learned through my first year of Whole30’s and Paleo that perseverance was key to getting me through. I kept my eye on the goal, which was to get into the 160 lbs range, and I made it. I ate and drank my way out of that last week, but I’m going to get back to where I’m comfortable, and I’m going to do it the way I got there the first time: with a lot of motivation, determination, patience, and perseverance. I will eat properly, I will exercise, I will manage my portions, and I will not eat any desserts or treats. I will do what I have done many times in the past to get my weight back to where I want it to be, and when I get there, I will celebrate. Again.

Perseverance isn’t easy. It takes practice. It takes a mindset of accepting that you won’t reach your goal today or perhaps even next week, but that you will eventually get there regardless of the cost or the time required. I know I won’t drop this weight immediately, but I will keep working at it until I do. I will not stop, falter, or waver.

Life Getting In The Way

img_8588Sometimes, there is a lot to do, and you can’t eat right or even get your runs in. That’s my life right now. The last run I had was the Jingle Bell Run, and it’s bothering me. I couldn’t run Sunday or Monday due to some pain in my shins from running the hills on the 5k, so I planned on running Tuesday. Well, friends came over and interrupted those plans, so then I thought perhaps Wednesday, but oops, there was a company Christmas party I had to attend, so those plans were scrapped as well. As for Thursday, well, I have a standing get-together with friends, so that was out as well, and then there was Friday which was travel day to NYC. I could have gotten up early and run then, I guess, but I didn’t want to risk an injury, regardless of how remote the chances were. I figured I’ll be walking enough in NYC to make up for the lack of running.

As for food and drink, I haven’t been able to really be as perfect as I like to be. There’s been a lot of alcohol, sweets, and non-Paleo foods on my menu; far more than I typically like. I know it’s short-term and temporary, and while there will most definitely be an effect on my weight and even my body composition, it will all get rectified in January. You see, in January, Sherry and I will be starting our fourth Whole30 to get us back on track and reset our bodies.

I can’t believe the following words are flowing from my fingers, but I am looking forward to the Whole30 and getting back to my 5x a week exercise plan. I miss it, and I miss how I feel when I am eating right and getting regular exercise. Right now, I feel puffy and not nearly as energetic as I normally do. Food affects us far more than we give it credit for.

So, sometimes life will get in the way of our eating and fitness, but as long as it’s not long term, it’s okay. I’m enjoying the holidays, visiting with family and friends, and I’ll get back to brass tacks on January 2nd. Why not the 1st? There’ll be leftovers to eat. And maybe a hot cocoa to drink.