Sticking to your guns

IMG_0201(Edited)Sometimes, it’s not just a matter of temptation or politeness, but a matter of your own success and health. I’ve been in plenty of situations where people either don’t understand my diet needs or, even worse, are upset by them. I try to be as amenable as possible, and when it’s unavoidable, I will go ahead and eat what’s made for me even if it’s not compliant with my LCHF lifestyle, but given options, I always try to eat Paleo or Keto.

I’ve been in situations recently where I was with friends and we ended up in a restaurant that didn’t have a single low-carb option. It was my fault; they asked if I thought we could eat there, and I figured there’d be at least some grilled option or something that was Paleo or Keto. Turns out, there was not a single good option. I had to ask the kitchen to adapt a recipe, to which they complied, but the result was an over-salted dish that really wasn’t very good. However, it was otherwise compliant, and that’s the best I was able to get out of that situation.

I try to be nice about my diet needs, but sometimes, people will gently bully you into eating non-LCHF foods because of their own hang ups, desires, or appetite. Don’t give in. Be polite, but be firm that you can’t compromise on your health. If they are truly your friends, they will understand. Sometimes, people will push against your willpower and discipline for whatever reason, but it’s up to you to resist, be strong, and stick to your guns. You and your health is worth the slight discomfort.

Why do I advocate resisting when going along with whatever your friends want to eat would cause fewer problems? Because if you’re like me, the problem doesn’t just lay with how our bodies process carbs and sugar. It’s an emotional issue, and a behavior issue. I have an unhealthy relationship with food, and for me, it’s a very slippery slope. I can’t allow myself to start falling off the wagon every time I go out with friends or I won’t be able to stick to it when I’m alone, and the next thing I know, I’m back over 200 lbs and in danger of being discharged from the military. I have too much to lose. I choose good health and fitness over food.

This is a marathon, not a sprint

24879879_10210790247221369_295432672312336540_oIt’s in our nature to want to lose weight quickly and with as little effort as possible. There are those who are willing to put in the sweat to lose weight (as if that was possible), and these people quickly become demotivated when they find that weight loss takes time. What’s worse is how many people quit after two or three weeks of hard physical activity when they find they’ve only lost a few lbs.

Weight loss is a marathon sport.

I lost a lot of weight in my first month because I was morbidly obese. I had SO much excess weight, that as a percentage of the whole, my weight loss was actually quite normal. The fact that I was able to maintain a 10 lbs per month weight loss says a lot about how unhealthy I was and how much weight I had to lose before my body reached its happy place.

Stop trying to shortcut the process. The first rule in getting healthy is that there are no shortcuts. The only way to lose weight and improve your health is to change your diet. The only way to get fit is to exercise. Notice the order I put those in, and what activity is required for each:

  • Lose weight and improve health =  diet
  • Fit = exercise

I get it; we want to get rid of the excess weight as quickly as possible. We want it to be painless and without suffering. If we are willing to do physical activity, we want to be rewarded with something to show for all that effort. The problem is, if you’re obese, the reward for all that physical activity is going to be hidden beneath your skin and not visible until you eat right and lose the weight. All you’re doing is building muscle and improving your heart health. You are not sweating away the fat. That’s not how weight loss works.

It will take time to drop the weight. It took time to put it on, and it’s only through careful eating of good foods low in sugar, carbs, and anti-nutrients that will allow your weight to drop and your health to improve.

Another Drill Weekend

Again?

Yes, it’s that time again: time for me to head to the field for some more Army training. That means a challenge to me: keep myself fueled and energized for high-intensity work and long hours while eating healthy. That means my usual: RXBars, Epic Bars, protein bars, and nuts. Fortunately, the last time we were in the field, there were actually some food options that were Keto-friendly, but typically just one a day. That means I will plan for at least two meals on my own each day.

MRE’s are available and always there as a last resort, but the carb count in the average MRE is astounding. Take a look at the individual serving data below of some popular MRE’s from the Combat Ration Database:

2018-04-09 09_56_42-Combat Rations Database (ComRaD) _ Human Performance Resource Center

Those are individual servings within the MRE’s themselves. The calorie count isn’t severe, but the total carbs are. When my goal is 20-30g of carbs for an entire day, you can see that these servings are very high indeed. When you look at the entire MRE package calorie/carb count, it’s even more frightening.

2018-04-09 09_59_08-Combat Rations Database (ComRaD) _ Human Performance Resource Center

That’s for a single package of MRE’s!!! I see people eating just about everything inside of an MRE at a single sitting, although to be fair, most just eat some or half of an MRE and throw away the rest. MRE’s are meant to have enough calories for a full day, if necessary, but when you’re in a combat environment where you are burning 3,000+ calories a day, you can see how these MRE’s become necessary.

To be honest, if I was in a combat situation, I wouldn’t be as strict with Paleo/Keto as I’d be looking to replace the lost calories as quickly as possible, and MRE’s are a good way to do that. However, field exercises, while meant to mimic combat and field problems, isn’t combat, and if I can limit my exposure to carbs, I will do it.

I will keep track of the food I eat and I’ll do my best to eat well out there. I have a vacation coming up within the month where I’ll be eating lots of different foods and many will likely not be compliant with my diet, but I’ll do my best to mitigate their impact on my weight and health by limiting portion sizes and making the best decisions I can given the options. That’s the best I can hope for, and it’s also how I operate when I’m in the field.

Letting some carbs in

file-3 (2)I wanted to see what effect some non-Paleo/Keto foods would have on me this weekend, so I allowed myself some bread and even a half serving of bread pudding on Saturday night, two Pimm’s Cups (also on Saturday night), and a cider and 1/3 cup of rice with dinner on Sunday night. The net result: a gain of about 1 lb. Is that enough to tell me that the food I ate and the alcohol I drank had an effect on me? It’s not definitive, because I’ve yet to have my post-weekend bowel movement, and I still have a run to do. Do I feel any different? Not really, because I made sure I got enough sleep, and I’m not bloating or retaining water like I used to when I’d go off plan.

I’d like to think that my body is now more adapted to being thinner, because it seems to me that after two and a half years, my body keeps thin easier than it did after the first year. You might remember me posting about how eating a meal that had lots of carbs would cause me to bloat, retain water, and hold on to extra weight for up to a week. Now, if I eat something off-plan or drink alcohol, I don’t see any of those effects the following day on the scale like I used to.

Does this mean I’m free of eating Paleo/Keto? Not a chance. I still believe in the science of it, and also that whole foods are better for us and that it’s a good idea to eat ethically sourced foods. With that said, I’m sticking to being as strict as I can. It makes me feel better knowing I’m eating right, and I don’t want to let my weight creep up. I also want to make sure the ingredients going into my body are as pure and wholesome as possible because I want to stay healthy, strong, and fit. You can’t do that when you fuel your body with junk.

So, I let some carbs in and I didn’t die. I didn’t have the same negative impacts I’ve experienced in the past. I think there’s some truth to the observation that people who lose weight can regain it quicker because their bodies are somehow used to a certain weight, but once you reduce that weight for a longer period of time, your body gets used to that weight as being the norm, and it holds it more easily. Maybe that’s why certain thin people (who have never been fat) have an easier time of the occasional cake, donut, or ice cream.

PaleoMarine Original Recipe: Fried Fish

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This is one of the neatest images I’ve ever created for this blog.

I said I wasn’t going to do this often, yet here I am again with another recipe. I decided that I should post this one because now that we’ve had time to test it over the past six months or so, it’s yielded the most amazing and successful fried fish ever.

A little (not important) backstory to this recipe. One evening, Sherry brought home some catfish and asked if I could fry it. I said, “Sure!” and thought about it for a moment. I’d seen some recipes online for Paleo-friendly or Keto-friendly fried fish before, but for one reason or another, they never quite came out right. I decided I’d try something I hadn’t seen elsewhere: a combination of almond flour and cassava flour mixed in a 50/50 ratio. I added some salt and pepper to the mix as well, and I decided I’d try to coat the fish with and without egg. The results were pretty surprising.

I fried a few pieces without egg. Using just the natural moistness of the fish, the flour mixture stuck quite well and didn’t fall away. In fact, the finished texture is like a cornmeal encrusted fried fish. Better yet, the coating doesn’t fall away easily and is crunchy. For a few pieces, I coated the filets in egg and then the flour mixture which yielded a more traditional faux-breading texture. This coating was a little more prone to separating from the fish, but not as easily as some of the other recipes I’ve tried.

Whenever I fry fish now, I do them both ways, about half and half: some with egg, and some without. I actually prefer the flavor without the egg, but others prefer it with egg.

Continue reading “PaleoMarine Original Recipe: Fried Fish”

PaleoMarine Original Recipe: Pecan Crusted Trout

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My Pecan Crusted Trout with Broccoli. It’s absolutely delicious!

I’m entering into territory I rarely go to: recipes. I am not planning on making this a regular occurrence, but I made some fish last night that turned out to be not only very tasty, but was super-simple to make and I think is something that can help you mix things up when transitioning into a LCHF diet.

This recipe is more Paleo than Keto, but without the sauce, can likely be keto friendly.

Continue reading “PaleoMarine Original Recipe: Pecan Crusted Trout”

My Eating Problem

IMG_5730[1]I have an eating disorder of sorts. I like to eat. A lot. I have it under control now, but I can’t say it’s completely gone. The problem is, I love food and I love to eat, and often, I find myself wanting to eat something not because I’m hungry, and often not because I’m bored, but just because I love food.

I don’t know where this came from or how it came about, but the fact remains that I had a very unhealthy relationship with food, and even though it’s much better now, the old cravings pop up every now and then for no reason at all. Like right now. I literally just had a thought pop into my head that it would be nice to eat another breakfast. Am I hungry? Not at all. My brain just works that way: “Let’s eat!”

I have been saying for the past two and a half years that part of me getting healthy and losing weight has been changing my relationship with food from entertainment to fuel. I have done so, and it’s how I see food, yet every now and then, for no reason or stimuli, a strange craving will come around. Fortunately, I’ve learned to recognize that it’s just a false craving and that it needs to be ignored. Fortunately, within a few minutes, the craving subsides and a few minutes more it’s gone completely, but the fact remains that I am still addicted to eating for eating’s sake, and it’s something I will likely need to be vigilant against for the rest of my life.

When I talk to people who ask me about LCHF, many balk at the fact that you need to eliminate sugars, grains, beans, and alcohol. They say they could never give up certain foods or drinking. I tell them it’s amazing what you can do when your health depends on it, and what would they do if their doctor told them it’s either eat well or die, and most tell me they’d eat well. I ask them, “Why wait for a doctor to tell you you’re dying? Eat well now!” I think at the heart of the problem is their relationship with food. They fail to consider that there are thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of delicious foods out there that are just as good or better than the foods they’d have to give up, yet they are so fixated on those particular foods, that emotionally, they can’t get past losing them. I know how that is; I was that person for a long time, too. But something strange happens when you finally decide your health really and truly matters more than your appetite: the old foods just don’t matter anymore.

Aside from the nonsensical cravings that come out of nowhere, I’m free from being hungry between meals, my meals leave me satisfied and are delicious, varied, and filling. My relationship with food is much better, and even though I eat amazing food that I enjoy, I don’t eat for pure entertainment. I’m no longer looking forward to my next meal while I’m eating a meal. I now look at meals as energy replenishment, and it’s been one of the most liberating experiences of my life. But I will always be vigilant against my false cravings. I will never give in.

The Secret to My Success

IMG_1894I am asked all the time what is the secret to my success in getting healthy and losing 150 lbs. I tell them that aside from the necessary motivation, dedication, perseverance, support from my wife, and hard work, the biggest secret is food prep. Without it, I would never have had the results I had in the time I achieved them.

I lost 110 lbs in the first year after starting with a Whole30. I then transitioned into the Paleo Diet, and with the help of my wife’s food prep every Sunday ever since, my lunches and most dinners are healthy, properly portioned, and absolutely delicious. Today, for example, I had one of my favorite meals: Chorizo Chipotle Meatloaf. It even has bacon on it! We make a plan every weekend, and we go to the store together to buy ingredients. Then, sometimes I help her with chopping or getting the smoker ready, and other times she pulls the weight and does it all depending on where I am (National Guard drill weekend, for example).

I bring all my lunches to work on Mondays in a big bag and I leave them in a refrigerator in my office that no-one else has access to. It’s a nice luxury to be able to do that; it definitely makes it easier for me to have good lunches when I just have to bring them once a week. I then eat one lunch a day and then my friend Steve and I have lunch together somewhere on Fridays. It’s usually a steak with some asparagus, but lately we’ve been going to a wild game grill that serves some amazing Paleo and Keto friendly meals with meats like elk, ostrich, emu, and wild boar.

I can’t stress enough how important food prep has been to my success. It’s taken away any temptation or difficulties I’d otherwise face when eating lunch during the week and has allowed me to remain 100% Paleo or Keto depending on the diet I’m on at the time. Sure, it takes time and effort, but the results speak for themselves.

The Fight of my Life

IMG_1835I went fishing on Good Friday with my wife and my good friend Steve, and we ended up hooking a crevalle jack, also known as a Jack Fish. I volunteered to bring it in. Without knowing what I was in for, I figured, “How hard can this be?” I didn’t know it would be the fight of my life.

I’ve fished all my life. I started fishing with my father and grandfather when I was a baby, and have fished ever since. I’m no master angler, but I know my way around a rod and reel. I’ve mostly fished rivers or piers, but I have gone on dozens of off-shore fishing expeditions. This time, it was my second time fishing the Intercoastal Highway, a waterway that extends along the entire length of the Gulf Coast, through Florida, and up the East Coast.

I’ve fought lots of fish, and to date, my most fierce battle was against a Bull Red Drum that I caught about 15 years ago on the Sea Wolf Park Pier. It was about 34″, and legal length at the time. It took me about 15-20 minutes to bring it in, and it was a good fight.

The fight I had with this crevalle jack lasted over an hour, and there was no resting except for one time when the skipper of the boat had to adjust the tension on the reel. I took that opportunity to take off my jacket as I was drenched with sweat.

I felt every pulse of the fish as it swam, and it would allow me to pull it closer and then take off, fighting me the entire time. Only after the hour mark did it finally get tired and allowed me to guide it into a net where we pulled it aboard the boat for photos. After we took a few shots, we let it go. It definitely earned it’s right to live. I was exhausted, and I’m sure it was, too.

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While I was fighting the fish, all I could think about was getting it in. I was careful with every move I made, never to give any line and I had to pay attention to every nuance of his direction, speed, and even depth. A few times, the fish tried to get the line caught in the motor to cut the line. Fish are a lot smarter than people give them credit for. I had to push the rod deep into the water to keep the line from tangling or cutting. No matter what that fish did, I had to do something else to make sure I was the victor.

There were times I thought about handing the rod off to someone else on the boat to finish pulling it in. I was exhausted, my arms were burning, and my fingers could barely move the handle on the reel, but I decided that I wanted to finish what I started and that I wouldn’t allow something like soreness or muscle pain keep me from pulling this great fish in.

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I thought about it later, and that fight with the mighty crevalle jack was much like my fight with sugar. It was long and difficult, but as the fight wore on, sugar held less and less of a sway over me, it’s attraction and pull weakening. I persevered and kept myself focused, and eventually I defeated the sugar dragon, regained control of my appetite and health, and now I’m no longer tempted or controlled by sugar.

The fight of my life. I’ve had a few. This past Good Friday, it was with a crevalle jack, but two and a half years ago, it was against a sugar dragon. I’m proud to say I’ve won both times through single-minded perseverance and having set my mind to not accepting defeat. We can do anything we set our mind to, whether it’s catching a 40 lbs fish or cutting sugar out of our lives. It just takes a strong desire to succeed.

 

Watching others succeed while you stand idly by

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That used to be me. I used to watch others start diets, new lifestyles, or fitness regimes and I would stay in my comfort zone and not change a thing. I would watch these people transition from their former selves into the new versions of themselves, typically healthier and in better shape. I would think back to when they started and think to myself, “If only I’d have started something then, I’d be where they are now.”

That used to bother me. As a 50-year old guy, I’ve watched lots of people through the years start one plan or another, and sure, some fail, but when people succeed, it’s motivating and also a little disappointing when you realize that the success that person is having could have been you. It’s part of what motivated me to finally get off my butt and do something about my health.

I remember stepping out of the shower and looking at myself and realizing that I was not just horribly out of shape, but incredibly and morbidly obese. I had to do something. I thought about the people I knew who all started doing something about their health and fitness, and how they left me behind. I could have been right there with them, but I chose to do nothing.

And that’s the point: you chose to do nothing. It’s an active decision to decide to not be an active participant in your own health, fitness, and wellbeing. Watching what you eat, cooking foods from whole ingredients, eating only foods that are made from whole ingredients, avoiding chemicals and artificial ingredients, eating right-sized portions, and getting some activity are all things we should be doing naturally. Instead, we choose to shovel anything into our faces that appears or that tastes good and is easy to prepare, or worse, prepared for us at a fast-food place.

Getting the ingredients for healthy meals takes time and effort. Cooking for yourself takes time and effort. But guess what: that time and effort is good for you. It’s meditative, it teaches you about the food you’re eating, and most importantly, it is healthy for you.

I can think of no fewer than a dozen people I’ve seen over the years transform themselves from unhealthy to healthy, and I recall feeling defeated because I had the same opportunity to start when they did and I chose to not do so. I am glad I chose to be an active participant in my health and to do something about it. A whole new world opened up, and I am no longer on the sidelines or on the couch.