Whole30 Day 24 Wrap-Up

Today is day 24 of my fourth Whole30. I feel great, and I remind myself often that it’s because of the quality of the food I’m eating that I feel so energetic. It’s amazing the difference good food makes.

IMG_1268

Breakfast: The pork, apple, and egg casserole Sherry made for me on Sunday. I can’t say enough how much I love this stuff (and her, too!).

Lunch: I had the beef and sugar snap peas that Sherry made for dinner last week and refrigerated as left-overs. It was even better today than the first time! The beef was so tender, and the peas were very sweet and tasty without being soggy. Definitely a winner!

Dinner: Pulled pork and a sweet potato. This was from the readily-available stash of food we keep in the refrigerator to make quick dinners with when we want to skip the prepped meals which we eat for lunch and we’re strapped for time. It was very delicious, and it definitely filled me up!

Feeling defeated

18056749_10208972449097552_6204059986877295273_n

I know how it feels. I’ve been there. I weighed 312 lbs (141.5 kg) at 5’7″ (1.7m) tall. I felt like I had passed the point of no return in regards to not only my weight, but my health. I had always been told that the only way to lose weight was through exercise and a sensible diet. Those sensible diets always left me feeling hungry, unsatisfied, and miserable. I never had any energy, and my willpower always faded quickly. As for exercise, I was never much into it. When you’re morbidly obese, just walking up stairs is a challenge, and I was not up to the task. I had felt defeated, and my sentence was an early death.

Everyone reaches a moment where they have to make a decision: live or die. For me, it was one morning when I tried to tie my shoes and couldn’t do so without holding my breath. My stomach was so large that it was physically impossible for me to breathe and bend over to tie my shoes at the same time. I felt like my life was fading quickly. I decided right then that I needed to do something. Anything. Only I didn’t know what to do. What happened, however, is that I was open to suggestions, and to being pointed in the right direction to find a way out of my despair and to improve my health and lose weight.

A few weeks later, my cousin came to visit, and she told me about Whole30 and the Paleo Diet, and my life changed forever. Could I have found Whole30 and the Paleo Diet without her? Possibly. I was already doing research and reading up on different diets when she came to visit, so when she mentioned them to me, I already had a passing knowledge of them. What really convinced me though was she had done it herself. She went through the same things I had; struggled with weight, tried exercise and the mythical sensible diet, and nothing seemed to work. We shared genetic material, so it stood to reason that a diet that worked for her would work for me. And it did.

I can’t predict what diet will work for you. I can only tell you that you need to make the decision to succeed. You don’t have to have all the answers right away. Just find the desire to make life-long changes to your lifestyle and to find a diet that works for you, whether that’s the Paleo Diet, keto, Atkins, or some other form of low-carb/high-fat diet. I honestly believe that these are the best diets for humans.

I’ve been in despair over my health and weight. I’ve been depressed over it. I thought I was doomed to die fairly soon. I know how utterly bleak it feels. But I also know how it feels to have hope, even if it’s just a tiny pin of light at the end of a tunnel. It’s amazing how that light grows brighter and brighter as you get closer to reaching your goal.

In hindsight, I feel as if I’ve been freed from prison. Sugar addiction held me back and clouded my mind and judgment for a long time. Finally getting free from that addiction has led me to the happiest place I’ve been in my life: my current self.

You are never defeated until you have no breath left in you. Until then, keep fighting. You are worth it!

Whole 30 Day 23 Wrap-Up

Not a lot of sleep again last night; roughly 5 hours. I still feel okay this morning; pretty amazing considering the lack of rest. As for my medical exams, all is well. These were all associated with my annual physical and the National Guard. They just take a closer look at men when they’re 50 or above, so I had a larger battery of exams than the normal Soldier.

IMG_1268

Breakfast: Pork and Apple Egg Casserole. I really do love this stuff, and it starts my day off just right.

IMG_1271

Lunch: Another of our famous prepped by Sherry meals, I had the Ground Beef and Plantain Bowl for lunch today. Once again, it was delicious and filling.

Dinner: We went out to a local favorite diner called Nik’s Steak and Seafood. I had my usual, the G13 which consists of a dinner salad with oil and vinegar (no cheese or croutons!), 8 oz Red Snapper, broccoli, and sweet potato. It’s a delicious meal, although it is just a tad on the generous size. It’s definitely filling and satisfying.

It’s easy to find discouragement

moi20171221

There are so many reasons to stop eating right. I am sure you know what I’m talking about. We’ve all been there (me too!). Our day is filled with temptation, people who would rather we don’t make them feel bad by eating right, self-doubt, and sometimes a lack of motivation. How do we get past it? How do we succeed in the face of all this discouragement?

  • Ignore it.
  • Use it as a source of strength.
  • Learn from it.

Let’s break it down into two groups: external forces and internal forces. An external force can be a person who calls you out for eating “Weird,” or tells you that the diet you are on is bad for you, is ranked as the worst ever, isn’t ever going to work, is not based on science, is going to kill you, etc. Often, these people are really looking at themselves and projecting their own fears and embarrassment onto you. They don’t want to be reminded that they are unhealthy or overweight, so they will do what they can to sabotage you. Some of these people may come in the form of your closest friends or family members. The sad part is that they may not even know they are doing this consciously. I have learned to ignore these people and I use their derision as a source of strength. I vowed to “Show them” in a positive way. Two and a half years later, I not longer catch grief from friends or family about my diet, but strangers and some co-workers still persist.

Internal forces are your own doubts and insecurities. They can manifest with depression, cravings, or caving into temptation. This is all natural and normal. I had many experiences during my weight loss journey where I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing or if I was going to lose weight temporarily only to regain it and then some. In the beginning, I didn’t yet know about focusing on the things I COULD eat instead of the things I couldn’t, so I spent a lot of time missing certain carb-rich foods. I learned from that, though, and I adjusted my mind to think positively. Whenever I faced a challenge, I would look at it and find a solution and try to learn from it to keep from making the same mistake twice.

Learning a new lifestyle or diet takes practice, takes time, and takes perseverance. We have to get past a lot of obstacles, some external, and sadly, many internal. It’s a mind game, and regardless of the source, we need to learn to put these challenges away, learn from them, and to persevere in spite of them. The world is full of discouragement. Turn it around and find things to be positive about and focus on them instead.

When it comes to Whole30 and the Paleo Diet, there is a lot more to be positive about! Just check out my wife Sherry’s blog! She has a bunch of recipes on there that have completely changed our lives and allowed us to live happier, healthier lives.

Whole30 Day 22 Wrap-Up

We are now day one into our fourth and final week! This is exciting!

Portion sizes are holding steady; I eat as much as it takes to fill me up. I’m not gaining any weight, and while I’m not necessarily seeing much movement on the scale, I do feel great and my clothing (and rings on my fingers) are all much looser. I know my body composition is changing again to leaner. Coupled with my running, this healthier eating is giving me many benefits I knew normally happen, but I didn’t expect to be so noticable for someone like me who has been Paleo for over two years. Wow.

IMG_1285

Breakfast: This is where it gets weird. I had some medical tests scheduled for today, so I had to fast in the morning prior to a blood test. Therefore, I didn’t eat my normal breakfast, and I was only able to eat a bag of nuts after the blood test and before lunch. So, my breakfast was small and basically eaten just to stave off some hunger.

Lunch: 10 small-ish chicken wings with mild Buffalo sauce and roughly 6 pieces of carrot and 6 pieces of celery. No sauce for dipping; I just ate these straight. I didn’t get a photo because it would have been weird in the restaurant, but I think everyone can picture what this looked like.

IMG_1293

Dinner: Sherry made sous-vide steak with some zucchini that she grilled in a pan with some coconut oil. It was delicious! I seared the steak after she cooked them to give them grill marks and they turned out beautiful!

The Ostrich Effect

10398865_1038604494468_735491_n
I was telling myself, “This is fine” when I was heavy.

First of all, let me start by saying that I know that ostriches don’t put their head in the sand to avoid danger. They put their head in the sand to turn their eggs which are buried after laid. People used to think (incorrectly) that ostriches were burying their heads in the sand to avoid perceived threats.

With that out of the way, it’s fair to say that the saying, “Burying your head in the sand” is quite firmly entrenched in the vernacular, and we all know what it refers to: ignoring a threat or danger before you. I used to suffer from this ostrich effect in regards to my health.

When I left the Marine Corps, I was about 20 lbs overweight. I ignored this and figured, “I’ll lose the weight some day. I just won’t worry about it now.” I continued to gain weight after leaving the Corps. I gained weight so quickly, in fact, that I sustained stretch marks on the sides of my stomach in the same way pregnant women do. I ignored these, too. “It’s just stretch marks. That isn’t really bad. I’ll lose the weight some day. I just won’t worry about it now.”

After I reached about 250 lbs, a good 80 lbs over my max weight, I visited a doctor and had a physical. He told me that my health was still good, but that it would not continue that way for long. He explained that my good health in the Marines had bought me some credit with my good health, but that one day it would run out, and I would start suffering from weight-related illnesses unless I reversed the trend I was on and lost weight. I thought to myself, “Well, I’m in good health, he says. I’ll lose the weight some day. I just won’t worry about it now.”

When I reached 300 lbs, I began having health problems. I started experiencing some numbness on my right thigh and some tingling of my toes and circulation issues in my feet. At a physical, I was told I had fatty liver disease, and worst of all, I was pre-Diabetic. My blood sugar was high, and I was prescribed Metformin. As crazy as it is to think about as I look back now, I thought to myself, “So, I’m having some issues. They’re not too bad. I’ll lose the weight some day. I just won’t worry about it now.”

WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR ME TO PULL MY HEAD OUT OF MY… EHEM… OUT OF THE SAND?

My cousin Sarah. She is a physician assistant, and she told me that she was concerned with my health and about me. She asked me what was keeping me from living a healthier life, and I told her that I was beyond exercising away my weight. She told me that I didn’t have to do that, and asked me if I would consider adopting a healthier diet? In doing so, I would be able to not only get healthy, but lose weight without exercise. I was understandably skeptical, but I agreed to listen to what she had to say, and afterward, I investigated further. What I was led to was Whole30 and Paleo.

Once I was enlightened, I pulled my head out of the proverbial sand and hit the ground running. I changed my diet, my wife and I got through our first Whole30, and we adopted the Paleo Diet. Two and a half years later, we are at our lowest and healthiest weights, I am in the National Guard, and we are both having great adventures together.

Stop ignoring the signs, stop ignoring your body, stop ignoring that voice in your head, and stop ignoring the people who love you telling you that you need to do something about your weight. The time to do this isn’t tomorrow, next week, or next month. The time is now. The sooner you start, the more days you will likely be adding to your life. Every day lost is gone forever.

Whole30 Day 21 Wrap-Up

So little sleep again! I stayed up way too late and played video games which left me with under 6 hours of sleep. Result: up almost 2 lbs. I know it’s just a lack of sleep bloating and also, I ate a lot of food yesterday without a bowel movement, so there’s that.

IMG_1268

Breakfast: Pulled pork, apple, and egg casserole. This is one of my favorite breakfasts! This morning, Sherry gave me a pretty good sized portion, so I won’t be hungry anytime soon.

IMG_1271

Lunch: One of our wonderful prepped meals! This time, it was a Ground Beef and Plantain Bowl. It was a new recipe Sherry found, and it really is good and filling!

IMG_1283

Dinner: Sherry decided to make a special dinner with Cod wrapped in bacon and baked with asparagus. It was definitely a treat, and very delicious!

Three Weeks of Whole30, and…

file (1)I feel great! My weight has reached a low that’s a little higher than I like, but honestly, Whole30 isn’t just about weight loss for me. It’s about how it makes me feel, how I relearn to eat better foods and readjust my serving sizes. In those regards, it’s going great!

I need to make sure I get more sleep, and that I get back to my running three times a week. Right now, I’ve been hitting the road once a week, and that’s not nearly enough. I’ve been lazy, and with the bad weather, not willing to run in the extreme cold or rain. Now that better weather is back, I can be out there for my minimum 3x a week.

The strangest observation I’ve had was that the food we are eating now isn’t different from the food we normally eat, which is to say delicious and satisfying. I remember the first time we did a Whole30, Sherry and I had not yet learned to cook Whole30-compliant well enough, and things were a bit bland. It wasn’t until we learned about the importance of spices that food became delicious. During that first Whole30, we struggled to find foods that were really good. Sure, they were satisfying, but we didn’t really know too much about the foods which is why Sherry has been compiling the list of recipes on her site of everything we’ve found and enjoyed. She hopes to help people on their first Whole30’s find foods that are delicious and satisfying. Being satisfied with good tasting and filling foods is so important to making a Whole30 a success.

All in all, I’m glad we are doing this again. I am looking forward to being done with it so that we can indulge in certain treats again (I miss my Saturday morning blueberry Paleo pancakes!), but most of all, I’m happy for the adjustment. It was much-needed and welcomed.

Whole30 Day 20 Wrap-Up

I got a lot of sleep and woke up at what is my lowest weight in 2018 which is the same as it was about a week ago. Considering the food I ate yesterday, this makes me very happy. My pants are all much looser now, and certain shirts are noticeably looser. All my size small shirts and sweatshirts fit perfectly again.

Breakfast: Pulled pork, egg, and apple casserole. I think the serving size was a little small, but I knew I was eating four hours later, so I let it go.

Lunch: About a third of a bowl of butternut squash soup and a bowl of Sherry’s chili.

Dinner: I ate one of last week’s prepped foods: the jambalaya. It was really delicious and along with the spaghetti squash, very filling.

The Power of Positive Thoughts

20180109a

It seems like a simple mind hack, but it’s actually one of the most powerful things I’ve ever realized: Positive thinking. Stop thinking about what you can’t eat anymore, and focus on all the great foods you already enjoy you can not only continue eating, but actually eat guilt free! Add to that the variety of new and exciting recipes you will discover! Your life will be not only healthier, but richer with the new experiences!

So many people focus on, “I can’t do this because…” or ” I will miss this certain food too much,” that they give up before they even began. It also leads people to fall off the wagon, so to speak, and give up on a new, healthier diet. Do I miss pizza? Sure I do! I’m part Italian and born in Chicago, and pizza was a big deal to me. But, my health is FAR more important to me, and I have found that there are many substitutes out there that are better for me than pizza. Do they taste like pizza? Not exactly, but why worry about that when I get to eat so many other amazing, delicious, and unique foods that are not only filling but good for me?

So many descriptions of diets tell you what you have to avoid. That’s natural, and decidedly not a very positive message. Instead, what if I told you about a diet that would make you healthier and free you from cravings and allow you to lose weight without exercise? All you have to do is eat meat, vegetables, and fruit. Nothing else. Just eat food made with whole ingredients containing those three things, and you will be healthier. Sounds much simpler and more positive, doesn’t it?

Now, being the people we are, we need to be told what part of our diets are not good for us since we eat such a variety of foods. So, that’s where the things to avoid comes into play: sugar, grains, alcohol, soy, legumes, and dairy.

Sherry and I finally embraced Paleo when we discovered that not only are there many foods we already ate and enjoyed that were Paleo-friendly, but the variety of foods available to us from cuisines around the world was staggering, and we could literally make a different recipe for every meal of every day for the rest of our lives, and we would never run out of new and delicious things to eat. That right there is good enough for me.