I didn’t think it was really possible

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I had given up so many times that by the time I started my first Whole30, I really was doing so out of desperation. I figured, “What the heck. Let’s give it one more shot to see if it works.” But, you see, the big issue was that Whole30 isn’t designed for weight loss as much as it is for a detox from sugar and processed foods/chemicals. Weight loss typically happens to many people who do a Whole30 if they are careful about limiting sugar, even natural ones. So, having read all about the people who lost no weight after a Whole30, I went ahead and tried anyway.

I lost 20 lbs in that 30 days.

I was stunned, shocked, amazed, and incredibly thankful. It also reiterated to me the fact that my previous diet was incredibly bad for me. Just by changing the food I ate had allowed my body to begin healing and returning to a normal weight.

I remained skeptical even after I continued to lose weight at a rate of 10 lbs per month after my wife and I adopted the Paleo Diet. I was eating amazing and delicious food that kept me filled up and left me without cravings, and yet I was continuing to lose weight at a rate of about 10 lbs per month. I felt as if I’d found a cheat code to life.

When I hit 110 lbs lost in one year, I couldn’t believe it. I was under 200 lbs for the first time in over two decades, and I remember the day clearly. I stepped on the scale and saw a “1” in the first digit of my weight. I cried. I had done it. I still had more work to do, but I literally dropped over 100 lbs. And I did it just by changing what I ate.

When I eventually got down to the weight I’m at now, I plateaued. I wish I could get past the weight I’m at now, but my body isn’t having it. For me to get lower, I’d have to eat less and actually feel hunger again, or I’d have to greatly increase my physical activity which is something I’m not certain I want to do. So, I am where I am, and I’m learning to be happy with that. Numbers are just numbers anyway: it’s how I feel and how I look that matters.

I had all but given up, but I gave it one last solid try. I gave it all I had, and I made sure I followed the rules not only to the letter, but I was super-strict and never allowed myself any opportunities to sabotage my progress. It was hard-earned, and I wasn’t about to give any of it back for any reason. The craziest part to me was that it worked and it continues to work for me over two and a half years later.

Never give up. Every failure is another lesson in what not to do. Eventually, you’ll get it right.

Being Honest With Yourself

IMG_0017I was once told that the scariest conversation you can ever have is one you have with yourself. A truly deep, honest, and frank conversation with yourself in the mirror. I tried it a few times, and yes, it can get scary. I even avoided them for a long time until one day I had a conversation with myself in the bathroom after I got out of the shower and got a glimpse of my body in all its morbidly obese glory.

“Oh my God, man. You’ve really got to do something about this.”

“Yeah, but what?” I replied.

“Something. Anything. What you’re doing now isn’t working. What you’ve allowed to happen to your body is going to kill you. Don’t you want to see your kids grow up to be parents? Don’t you want to meet your grandchildren? Don’t you want to be around longer to annoy your wife?”

“Sure. I want all those things. But I don’t have the willpower anymore to exercise and work out and to do the hard work it takes. I give up. I’m going to die obese, and probably soon.”

“And you accept that? You think that’s okay?”

“I don’t know what else to do.”

I stood there for probably a few minutes. It felt like hours. I was at the end of my rop. I didn’t know what else to do. What else I could undertake to drop the weight. What the conversation did do, however, was spark my interest in seeking out methods to lose weight.

I stumbled across /r/progresspics on Reddit.com. I looked at all these people who had lost weight, and I read their posts. I started seeing a trend: either they used CICO or LCHF. I tried CICO and it didn’t work for me, so I figured LCHF might be the way to go. The rest is history I’ve related many times on this blog, and here I am.

Be honest with yourself. If what you’re doing isn’t working, there might be something else going on that’s keeping you from succeeding. Whether it’s something you’re doing or something medical or genetic, there is a reason for lack of success on an LCHF diet. But be honest. Being anything less does a disservice to you and won’t help anything.

Getting back into the swing of things

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I don’t look like I’m having a good time here, but trust me; I was. I just had my serious Staff Sergeant face on.

Being in the field was fun. I enjoyed my time, and while there were very long days with a lot of work that left me exhausted, I feel like it was worthwhile, and I learned a lot. I also ate pretty well in terms of healthiness, and aside from a few sugar-free zero calorie energy drinks I had, I ate good food. What I didn’t get to do was run, however, and now I have to get back into it.

Returning Sunday evening, the last thing I thought about was running. The next day, when I got home from work, all I wanted to do was rest. My muscles were still aching, and I was still tired both mentally and physically. Tuesday? Wednesday? Rain. So, I am going to run as soon as I can, which will likely be Thursday or Friday. I’m no DJ Jazzy Jeff about it, but I know I have to get back to it because my heart needs it, my muscles need it, and I need to work on my speed for the next APFT we are having in May.

I like running. Sometimes I love running. But sometimes, I just want to be lazy. This week is one of those “Want to be lazy” weeks. But I can’t. I have to get back up on that horse and ride it. I owe it to myself, my family, my friends, and to my Soldiers.

Motivation is a funny thing. I am motivated by many things, but sometimes, you have to dig down deep to find something to get you going. It’s easy to talk yourself out of doing stuff, and it takes real strength to get past it all and just go. I find that if I allow myself to get into a post-work routine that involves running, it’s somehow easier for me to mentally check out and just go through the paces. On the days I’m not exceptionally motivated, I tend to run a little slower, perhaps, but when I notice I’m running slow, I pick up the pace and push it.

I’m pretty sure tonight’s run will be like that; just go through the paces and have a slow run. I’m expecting it to be a bit difficult as my last run was last Monday, but with all the running around/fast walking/lifting I did this weekend, hopefully I didn’t lose too much.

What’s the point of all this rambling? It’s motivation. Motivation is what you use to get you past your own naysaying and negativity. Once you realize that motivation is that power you have over your own negativity, it gets easier to become motivated. I’m not fighting against someone not allowing me to run or against anything other than my own laziness. And I have no room for laziness in my life.

Post-Field Exercise Food Report

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I just got back from a weekend drill in the field, and it went very well. Aside from the good training, I had a chance to eat the food I typically take with me, and once again, it proved to be not only enough to fuel me during the high-intensity periods, but it also tasted good and felt filling.

I ate Epic Bars as my main protein source and I supplemented that with an RXBar and sometimes, with some almonds or perhaps a protein chocolate bar. All in all, I felt like I was able to eat my food quickly, though I did tend to savor it a bit, and it was a lot less trouble than the MRE’s.

The meals that were served to us were 180 degrees from the food we were served at our last annual training (AT). This time, there were actually options I could partake in, including bacon and eggs, ham, and/or fruit for breakfast and baked chicken wings for dinner. There were a few other meals that were served that I skipped, like pasta and chicken, but that was okay; my own stash of healthy foods kept me going.

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I enjoy my drills, and even though they can be very demanding both physically and mentally, the sense of accomplishment afterwards is great, and the memories made with fellow soldiers are golden. I really feel fortunate to be able to serve at my age, and I work hard to ensure that I am worthwhile and worthy of being there. The day I can no longer hack it is the day I hang up my boots. Until then, it’s GO GO GO (with healthy foods)!

You motivate me

Yes. YOU. The person reading this very post, right now. You are a motivator to me.

There are times when I am running and I feel like stopping. My last run was one of those; it was difficult because my legs were still sore from my previous run, and with all the tree pollen in the air, my nose, sinus, and throat were all sore and very painful. I wanted nothing more than to stop running, to end all the pain (or at least to minimize it), but I thought of you. I thought of what you would think if I stopped before my scheduled end for no reason other than discomfort. I thought about what kind of example that would set when I keep telling you to push past discomfort into success.

So I kept running.

And do you know what? The discomfort subsided, I found my stride, and I was able to push through and finish my run. It wasn’t my fastest, but it was a good, solid run, and I felt a huge rush of success when I finished. My post-run walks are typically a half mile, and I was smiling for the majority of it because I was able to get past what was a difficult run for me. They aren’t always difficult, but sometimes, for whatever reasons, it takes more motivation to get through than others. Life is like that, and there are days where eating right is the same.

Temptation, hunger, and appetite are things we have to work on to succeed in living a healthy lifestyle and losing weight. I have to deal with those things, too, from time to time, but again, YOU motivate me to stay strong, to not allow myself to sabotage my own progress (or maintenance), and to continue to be a good example.

I have many motivators, but there are times when all that comes between me and quitting is you. I know that it may seem like a cliche, or that it may sound insincere, but I can’t be more serious: I honestly think of people reading my posts when I try to rationalize quitting or skipping a run.

Thank you for the support, the nice comments, and even the likes. They all contribute to my motivation, and to my success.

Size and Weight

20180109aI struggle with my weight. I didn’t say I struggle to keep it at a certain weight, but I struggle with keeping my sanity while watching it naturally (and normally) fluctuate. Last weekend, I watched it spike up 5 lbs after a day of eating and drinking alcohol. It weighed heavily on me (pardon the pun) for a few days until it went away. It took three days, but on that third morning, I was back to my pre-feasting weight (just as I knew it would). Did I worry the entire time? You’re darned right I did. I put that stress on me the entire time until the weight was gone.

What I didn’t take into consideration was that I had also started running much harder in the week previous, and my muscles were very sore. I had some inflammation from the extreme workouts, and that causes some temporary (and even some permanent) weight gain. Add to that a weekend of drinking alcohol and eating mass quantities of foods and weight will go up. What is strange yet comforting to me, however, is that now that I’m back down to my pre-weekend weight, my clothing are a bit looser. You see, I lost size even though I am actually more or less the same weight.

The body continues to reconfigure as you transition from being overweight and unfit to being right weight and fit. I’m not ready to concede that I’m the right weight for my height; I still really would prefer to be 10 lbs less than I am now, but I also know that it may be a physical impossibility at the activity level I am at (which is to say that I am fairly active). I have to learn that my size is more important than my weight. Except that the military uses height/weight in regulations that determine your physical suitability. That is where my stress comes from. Yes, I could be over the weight for my height and the backup is to check body fat percentage using what they call the “Tape” method, but I really don’t want to have to be taped. I always want to meet the regulations. I want to lead from the front.

The point I preach as much to myself as to everyone else is that weight is but a number. It’s one measure among many that shows you how healthy you are. Taken by itself, it’s probably the easiest to comprehend because it’s a number, and numbers are easy to understand: high is bad, low is good. But there is so much more to it than that, and I know plenty of people who are thin but have high cholesterol and other health-related issues from eating a horrible diet. Being thin doesn’t guarantee good health.

So, this article is as much for me as it is for you; take the weight off the scale with a grain of salt and realize that it will naturally and normally fluctuate, it is a general indicator, and should never be the prime measure of your health.

The Comfort Zone

file_000-48When you are in a certain predicament or situation for too long, it feels normal. A situation I found myself in that was completely different than anything I had experienced prior was boot camp. I remember that after two months, it was my new reality, and I had adjusted to it quite well. I forgot what freedom of thought and movement was. I wasn’t able to make any decisions for myself except for perhaps which pair of underwear I was going to put on for that day. Everything else, which was completely different from my life up to that point, had become completely normal. I got used to it.

The problem with a lot of us is that we have become used to being overweight, being unfit, and eating unhealthy. It is comfortable now, and getting away from that comfort zone is difficult. Sure; there’s a reason it’s called the comfort zone. It’s because it’s comfy! But that comfort zone could end up killing you.

Nothing great ever happens without movement. For change to happen, it takes energy, time, and effort. For getting healthy, losing weight, and getting fit, it also takes motivation and perseverance. But before all that, it takes the spark of inspiration and the explosion of the initial movement.

I will help with the spark, but you need to find the fuel to give energy to that explosion. Make a change. Dedicate yourself to eating healthy. It will take you out of your comfort zone, but it will be the start of possibly one of the best things to ever happen in your life. And when your new lifestyle becomes the comfort zone, you will know that you have succeeded in making a positive change that will make your life richer and more rewarding, and quite possibly, longer and healthier.