It’s Not As Bad As I Made It Out To Be

So, I’m not eating good food, and I’m eating too much, but I’ve noticed something today: I’m not nearly as bad off as I thought I would be. That’s not to say I think that eating lots of carbs, grains, and sugar is okay. It’s not. It’s just that in my mind, I had this idea or fear that eating any amount of grains or sugar would cause me to swell up and gain weight like crazy.

But I didn’t.

So, at least some of the fear has subsided for me. I am heavier, and yes, a bit puffier from water retention, but it’s not the end of the world. It’ll go away when I eat well, and my weight will get back down to where I like it to be. I haven’t run again since that first time in Dublin, but I plan on running either tomorrow or the day after, so I’ll at least get some cardio while I’m here. I ran twice in Spain over the two weeks I was there, and I will do at least that as a minimum while I’m here in Scotland.

So, it turns out I am my own worst enemy when it comes to putting fears into my head. It’s good to eat right, and I lost 150 lbs eating well, but eating like crap while on vacation isn’t the end of the world. Oh, and I’m having a great time, too!

Never Give Up

I tried more than once to lose weight, and I failed. Miserably. I even gained all the weight back and then some after each attempt. The main reason I failed was because I didn’t understand the relationship between diet and weight loss as compared to fitness and exercise. On top of that, for me, eating carbs and sugar and grains kept my weight up even when I tried to count calories. That just didn’t work for me like it works for others.

When I finally did a Whole30 and then went Paleo, I found great success. Going Keto a few times also gave me the weight loss I had always looked for, and adopting a Paleo and Keto combination diet has allowed me to maintain my weight for almost two full years after starting my weight loss journey nearly three years ago. Although I’m on vacation right now and I’m not being strict with my diet, as soon as I get home, I will be right back to weight-loss mode, and I will be as strict as ever.

I never gave up trying. I realized that not every method works for everyone. It was up to me to find what did work. Although I thought of attempting Whole30 as sort of a last-ditch effort to get healthy, it validated what I’d always known: we are all different, and we lose weight in different ways. I know people who have been successful with Calories-in/Calories-out. I know people who went low-carb. I know people who can eat carbs and still lost weight. I just wasn’t one of those people. I’m lucky I found what did work for me.

If you’ve failed before, that’s a good thing: you have now confirmed what doesn’t work for you. Now, try something different. CICO didn’t work for me. Extreme fitness didn’t work for me. Whole30, Paleo, and Keto did. Find your path, find your success, and stick with it.

Trying Not to Go Crazy

I have mentioned before that I have an eating disorder: I like to eat too much. It is something I’m struggling with as I’m on vacation right now, and I’m eating everything in sight (or so it seems). I have been doing a lot of walking, and I’ve also been running while on vacation, but I know that maintaining my weight is primarily the function of the diet I eat which, admittedly, has included far too much food.

I have some anxiety over this. Okay, a lot of anxiety. I worry about the weight I’ll gain, and I worry about the work I will have to do to lose it again. The only solace I have is the knowledge that diet works to reduce weight, and that I’ve done this before. Successfully. I also know it’s impossible for me to regain all the weight I lose in 12 days, and while I can feel myself swelling from the retained water, I know deep-down that I’m not getting overweight. I’m eating too much: yes. I’m even eating foods I never allow myself to eat: yes. But I’m on a vacation, and possibly on my only trip to Ireland and Scotland, so I will enjoy it to the fullest.

With all that said, it’s hard not to go crazy with anxiety and guilt, but I refuse to deny myself this once-in-a-lifetime experience of living it up in Ireland and Scotland. I’ll deal with my weight when I get home. In the meantime, I’ll be as sensible as I can, and I will get as much exercise as I can to make sure I remain physically fit. I may be a little heavier when I get home, but at least I’ll still be fit.

Eating A Lot on Vacation

I’ll admit it; I’m eating a lot right now. I’m eating mostly foods that are made of whole ingredients, but I’m eating larger volumes as well as foods that contain grains or sugar. I am doing this knowing the following will happen:

  • I am going to gain some water weight; roughly 5-10 lbs in the next two weeks
  • I am going to gain some solid/real weight; roughly 2-3 lbs
  • I will lose some muscle definition, especially in the midsection
  • I will feel slightly guilty while I’m eating, and very guilty afterward (when I get home)

I could be sticking to just Keto or Paleo food, as there are a lot of options here in Ireland for that, but honestly, a big part of traveling is experiencing the culture through its food. I’ve had some of the best fish and chips I’ve ever had, and some of the tastiest ciders I’ve ever tried. I ate a chowder today that, in and of itself, was Keto friendly, but the brown bread I ate with it definitely was not. However, it was very dark, very dense, and actually not that much bread.

I will deal with the guilt later. I’m enjoying my trip, and enjoying the food. It’s not like I eat like this all the time, and Sherry and I will be staring our fifth Whole30 sometime soon after we get home.

I always tell people it’s important to enjoy life, and to not miss out on special occasions and holidays. This vacation for us is a special event, and I’m not going to spoil it for her, for our friends, or for me by sticking to a diet that would keep me from experiencing some of the local flavor. Oh, and the chocolate torte and bread pudding here are to die for!

Bacon and Eggs > Fruit Breakfast

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My favorite breakfast. I’ve been eating this for nearly three years, and it never gets old.

It’s true. Many people still cling to the outdated and oft disproved notion that bacon and eggs are bad for you and persist with thinking that fruits like bananas, pineapple, and drinking orange juice is better for you. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Let’s take a look at the government’s own nutrition facts for a banana.

Nutrition Facts
Bananas
1 medium (7″ to 7-7/8″ long) (118 g)
Calories 105
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.4 g 0%
Saturated fat 0.1 g 0%
Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 1 mg 0%
Potassium 422 mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 27 g 9%
Dietary fiber 3.1 g 12%
Sugar 14 g
Protein 1.3 g 2%
Vitamin A 1% Vitamin C 17%
Calcium 0% Iron 1%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 20%
Vitamin B-12 0% Magnesium 8%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Let’s take a look at the nutrition for a can of Coca Cola.

 

Nutrition Facts
Coca Cola
1 Serving Per Container
Serving Size 1 Can
Amount Per Serving
Calories 140
% Daily Value
Total Fat 0g 0%
Sodium 45mg 2%
Total Carbohydrates39g 14%
Total Sugars 39g
Includes 39 Added Sugars 78%
Protein 0g %
Vitamin D 0%
Calcium 0%
Iron 0%
Potassium 0%

Not a significant source of fat, trans fat, cholesterol, dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium.

Caffeine Content: 34 mg/12 fl oz

 

How about a look at a glass of orange juice in comparison.

Nutrition Facts
Orange juice
1 cup (248 g)
Calories 111
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.5 g 0%
Saturated fat 0.1 g 0%
Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 2 mg 0%
Potassium 496 mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 26 g 8%
Dietary fiber 0.5 g 2%
Sugar 21 g
Protein 1.7 g 3%
Vitamin A 9% Vitamin C 206%
Calcium 2% Iron 2%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 5%
Vitamin B-12 0% Magnesium 6%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

So. From a calories standpoint, a medium banana or a cup of orange juice EACH has nearly the same calories as a can of Coca Cola. When we look at grams of sugar, it gets even scarier:

  • Medium banana: 27g
  • Glass of OJ: 26g
  • Can of Coca Cola: 39g

To put that into perspective, when I’m doing the Keto diet, I take in between 20-30g of sugar FOR THE ENTIRE DAY. So, if you have a banana and a glass of OJ, you’re at over 53g of sugar, and you’re just getting started!

I’ve talked extensively in the past about how sugar is metabolized by the liver with help from the pancreas to turn it into energy the body can use. The excess sugar is turned into fat to store for later, and when we get these shocks of excessive energy, we tend to gain weight through the fat storage. The body is only doing what it’s designed to do. It’s up to use to use it properly.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking: “What about bacon and eggs?” Here are the nutritional labels for each.

Nutrition Facts

Bacon, pan-fried

Amount Per 1 slice cooked (8 g)

Calories 43
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3.3 g 5%
Saturated fat 1.1 g 5%
Polyunsaturated fat 0.4 g
Monounsaturated fat 1.5 g
Trans fat 0 g
Cholesterol 9 mg 3%
Sodium 137 mg 5%
Potassium 45 mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 0.1 g 0%
Dietary fiber 0 g 0%
Sugar 0 g
Protein 3 g 6%
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0% Iron 0%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 0%
Vitamin B-12 1% Magnesium 0%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Nutrition Facts

Egg, fried

Amount Per 1 large (46 g)

Calories 90
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7 g 10%
Saturated fat 2 g 10%
Polyunsaturated fat 1.5 g
Monounsaturated fat 2.8 g
Trans fat 0 g
Cholesterol 184 mg 61%
Sodium 95 mg 3%
Potassium 70 mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 0.4 g 0%
Dietary fiber 0 g 0%
Sugar 0.2 g
Protein 6 g 12%
Vitamin A 7% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 2% Iron 4%
Vitamin D 10% Vitamin B-6 5%
Vitamin B-12 6% Magnesium 1%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

I typically eat two eggs and two slices of bacon which gives me roughly a calorie total of 270 calories. Contrary to what we’ve been told, I don’t worry about the cholesterol intake because I know that:

  1. Cholesterol imbibed orally does not “stick to your arteries.” Our bodies are far more complex than that.
  2. If I eat too much cholesterol, the body gets rid of it. Have you ever had the runs after eating too much fatty food? I have.

So, it’s worth looking at the food you currently think is healthy and really look at what that food is doing to your body and how your body uses it. Bacon and eggs is 100 times better (by my count) than eating a bowl of bananas and pineapples with orange juice.

30 minutes, three times a week

IMG_2145It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, as long as you can get some activity, your heart will thank you for it. I wrote yesterday about exercising when I was obese versus being at a healthier weight, and how much easier it is for me now. With that said, one of the greatest quality of life improvements I made for myself was after I began exercising. I noticed that things just became easier physically, and I began wanting to be more active and doing more.

No, I didn’t set out to run marathons or do an Iron Man (and I still don’t!), but I did endeavor to get out and do things like go zip lining, go on trail hikes, and to go to carnivals, fairs, and museums where the main activity included a lot of walking. These were things that were difficult for me before but now, since I began with some walking and then worked up to light jogging, were easy for me. Fast forward nearly three years, and I’m running 8-ish minute miles consistently and pushing past 60-80 push ups in two minutes regularly.

I am not someone who LOVES exercise. That’s my sister. She loves working out, and I wish that I did, too. I do it because I feel it’s necessary and because of how good it makes me feel afterward. I also do it because I have to: I need to stay in shape as a soldier in the Army National Guard. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I derived some sort of enjoyment out of it. I’m competitive with myself, and I’m always pushing for better times and sometimes even for longer distances.

How did I get into running? Oddly enough, by doing push ups. I started by doing the most I could without straining, which as I remember it, was around 7. I then waited a day and tried again. 7. Took off another day and tried again: 10. And so on until I got to around 60 push ups. Then, something strange happened. I felt like doing push ups just wasn’t enough. After I finished doing my push ups one day, I felt like I needed to do more, so I went out for a walk. I continued walking every other day after my push ups until one day, I felt that the walking just wasn’t doing enough for me, so I tried a light jog. It felt great! It’s as if shackles were removed from my feet, and I felt free! Eventually, light jogging turned into jogging which then turned into running. Now, nearly three years later, I run regularly and I’m striving for a consistent sub-8 minute mile pace on a three mile run.

Once you’ve lost some weight, give exercise a chance. You might find you like it. It’s definitely easier when you’re lighter.

Exercise when obese vs now

IMG_2136When I weighed 312 lbs, I tried in vain to exercise away my bad diet and to lose weight. Needless to say, the attempt was a miserable failure for two reasons:

  1. I didn’t change my diet. I continued to eat carb-rich foods and foods with lots of sweeteners in it that continued to activate the cravings/appetite.
  2. I wasn’t able to exercise effectively due to the discomfort of being obese and a lack of motivation.

The first part is what I finally changed in 2015 when my wife and I did our first Whole30 in August of that year. The second part is something I finally tackled in September of 2016 when I began running.

The fact of the matter is that trying to do strenuous exercise when you are obese is not only dangerous, but extremely difficult and uncomfortable. I remember the simple act of climbing a flight or two of stairs would leave me winded and sweaty. Running, or even jogging, was completely out of the question. Walks would leave me exhausted and drenched in sweat. The sad part is that I thought that the sweat meant I was losing weight. Unfortunately, weight loss has no correlation to the amount you sweat while working out.

I tried and failed to lose weight using exercise when I was morbidly obese. I remember how hard it was, and how defeated I felt. I was in my mid-40’s and bought a mountain bike in an attempt to take up something to help me lose weight. I tried to ride that bike around the neighborhood, but every time I did, I felt horrible. I couldn’t keep my breath, my legs hurt for days afterward, and since I was so heavy, the act of pedalling tires that were bulging under my weight (which makes it hard to move) was all just too much for me. Fast forward three years. I rode my mountain bike on trails for the first time since I was 15 last week, and it was glorious. I grinned like an idiot for the entire 33 minutes, not only because it felt so good to be back out in the woods on a trail again, but because it felt so easy. It was effortless to get moving. I could pedal so hard that I actually did burn outs in the dirt!

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Exercise for me now is actually all about my heart health, getting some good cardio, and making sure I can run fast enough to pass my APFT’s in the National Guard. I don’t exercise to lose weight or for weight control: I eat carefully to maintain my weight. I understand that diet controls weight and exercise controls fitness. I wish I’d have had a better understanding of that 15 or even 30 years ago. My life would have been very different.

Exercising now is a joy. Exercising when I was obese was a dangerous and difficult proposition. If you are obese, consider changing your diet and waiting until you lose some weight before attempting strenuous exercise. You will feel so much better exercising when you’re lighter that you’ll actually be able to stick with it and continue your workouts. Sure, exercise leaves you a little sore if you did it right, but it’s a “Good” kind of sore versus the pain of injury. As I write this, my legs are feeling the burn of last night’s run. The funny part is that now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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