And then… three pounds gone.

I have no idea how it happened, but this is something I used to experience back when I  first embarked upon my journey to better health, and it’s something I never quite got used to: plateaus and jumps. This morning, I realized a jump of three pounds lost.

Wow.

What did I do different than the past few weeks? Well, I ate food my wife made, I ate proper portions, and I didn’t drink any alcohol. I didn’t run after work as I had intended due to impending bad weather (which, incidentally, never came but threatened menacingly for hours after I got home), and I’ll be unable to run tonight due to a dinner engagement with my wife, but I plan on getting back to running for the first time in nearly two weeks. I hurt a nerve in my lower back stretching while I was on annual training, and it’s taken a week for it to stop hurting. I should be okay to get back to running. I can’t believe how much I miss it. Not the work or the running itself, but how I feel afterward.

So… don’t despair. Keep doing the work, keep eating right, and stick to the plan, and eventually, your body will get the hint and drop the pounds. At least, that’s how my body works.

Keeping the Motivation Going

Motivation is like the tide; it ebbs and flows. Sometimes, I find it hard to get going on a run, while other times, I look forward to it all day. The same holds true for eating right. There are days when I feel like I can conquer my appetite or any cravings that come my way, and there are other days where I feel like I will succumb any moment. How do I keep riding the Motivation Express?

I do lots of things.

First of all, I try to do lots of things (see what I did there?). Keeping my mind occupied helps me get past cravings and false appetite. As long as I’m doing something, I find that eventually, the craving will pass.

Second, I get out and do some exercise. Even when I don’t feel like exercising and I’m looking for just about any excuse to not run, I run. Exercise has the double effect of being good for me (cardio is good for my heart, and running keeps my run times fast for the National Guard) and when I run, any cravings or appetite I had fades for at least an hour or more.

Third, I tell myself that it’s not an option. I MUST eat well, or I MUST exercise. There’s more at stake than the short-term instant gratification. More often than not, if I do succumb to a craving or false appetite, I end up regretting it almost immediately. I remind myself how bad it feels afterward, and usually, that’s enough to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Motivation wanes every now and then. I liken it to a pendulum that sways back and forth. It’s normal to lose motivation every now and then. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Just learn how to get past it, how to push yourself beyond a lack of motivation, and how to keep going toward your goal. Sure, it’s not easy (or everyone would be healthier/lighter/fitter/etc), but with some mind hacks, you can do this.

The Toll: Nothing Lost

IMG_3727
A rather silly selfie I took the day before AT was complete.

I had intended (or rather, hoped) to lose about 5 lbs on this past annual training (AT), but it was not to be. I ended up having alcohol on some of the evenings, and ate out for lunch far more often than I otherwise do or normally can during AT due to our being at our home station, but I have to be happy with the fact that there was no weight gained, either. I stayed pretty much flat at the weight I went to AT at.

How do I feel about this? I’m okay with it. Sure, it would have been nice to drop a few pounds, but ultimately, I didn’t gain any, and I had a really good time. I ate good meals, drank good drinks, and had memorable conversations and experiences. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Now that AT is done, I’m back to eating right and my normal routine. I still have 15 lbs to lose to get back to my final goal, but I have time to get there. I know that I will; it just takes some patience. And I have a lot of that.

Motivation: Where Can I Find It?

This is a very personal subject. The reason for that is because we all find motivation in different places and for different reasons. I can’t tell you how to be motivated any more than I can you what your favorite color should be. What I can do, however, is tell you what motivates me and how I found that motivation.

img_1167

When I was overweight and unhealthy, there was no single moment that caused me to change my eating habits. There was no single incident that made me decide I needed to get healthy and lose weight. There was a straw that broke the camel’s back moment, but that wasn’t the only reason. It was something simmering inside me for a long time.

I hated how I looked. Whenever I’d see myself in the mirror, I was disgusted by what I saw. I hated that I used to be thin and fit, and what I saw looking back at me was an overweight, unfit man who had given up on being healthy. It bothered me, and I despaired over it.

I hated how I felt. I was always tired, out of breath, and sweating. No matter how cool it was, I was always sweating. I couldn’t climb a staircase without getting winded. When my wife and I were on vacation or day trips, I would have to take breaks often. My size kept me from being able to partake in certain activities that we otherwise might have enjoyed.

I hated how I made others feel. I could see the look of despair on people’s faces when I boarded a plane and people would be hoping I wasn’t sitting next to them. I would notice people looking at me with disgust when eating in restaurants as I stuffed my face with unbelievable amounts of food. I would see people stare at me as I pushed a cart at the grocery store with all the 2 liter bottles of Coke and bags of Dove chocolates.

I hated being told by every doctor and health professional I ever made contact with that my lifestyle was unhealthy and that I was in poor health. I needed to lose weight, and I was reminded of this every time I went in for anything at all.

Most of all, I hated that I had given up on myself, on health, on fitness, and ultimately, on living a long life. I began realizing that I might not ever get to meet grandchildren; to spoil them, hug them, and love them. Worse yet, they would be denied having a grandfather.

One morning, I got up, and I couldn’t tie my shoes without holding my breath because my gut was so large. Right then and there, I realized something had to change. Fortunately, my cousin had discussed Whole30 and Paleo with me, and my friend Matt had also discussed eliminating sugar from my diet. The rest, as they say, is history.

What motivated me first and foremost was wanting to lose weight for my wife and for my kids. I felt that life was ending for me soon, and it scared me. I didn’t want to leave my wife and kids at a young age. I wanted to be around for them, for whatever they needed me for. I wanted to become fit so that I could start having adventures with my wife. She always wanted to be able to share experiences with me; I was denying her that. A simple thing like taking dance lessons was out of the question for me.

I was further motivated when I lost enough weight to begin exercising. I was able to finally run, and lately, I’ve taken up mountain bicycling. I enjoy both greatly. Then, there’s my military service in the National Guard. It was always something I felt was unfinished: my military service. I wanted to complete my 20 years, and the prospect of being able to get back into the military via the National Guard was a motivator to me as well.

IMG_2136

Today, I am much healthier, lighter, fitter, and in the National Guard. With some luck, I will be around a lot longer for my wife, kids, and friends. What motivated me to get to where I am today may not resonate with you, but hopefully it encourages you to find your own motivation. When you do, hang on to it, treasure it, and honor yourself by feeding off of it to reach your goals. You are the only person who can do that for you.

If You Listen to Only One Thing I Say

If I had the ability to make you listen to just one thing I say, and to follow through with it, I would say it is this: CUT GRAINS. In every form, grains are not our friends.

Sure, drinks/foods with added sugar are bad, but many of those tend to be grain-based. Most meat (with the exception of bacon and sausage) tends to be sugar-free, and most vegetables are better for us than any grain.

With that said, if you only listen to two things I say, I’d add “Anything with added sugar” to the list.

Cutting grains and anything with added sugar will yield you the most impact on your health and weight. Just cutting out sodas alone can help you lose around 2.5 lbs a month. The more sugar you cut, the more weight you will lose. Give it a try.

What Is The Right Portion Size?

file (4)I am asked this question pretty regularly, and my answer is very specific: It depends.

It depends on a lot of things. Here is a list of considerations when trying to determine the appropriate portion size for you:

  • Your weight/overall health
  • Your level of physical activity prior to/coming up after the meal
  • How hungry are you?

Let’s take these individually.

Your weight. Are you overweight? Do you need to lose weight? Do you need to gain weight? Even with the Paleo Diet, you need to be careful to not over-eat. If you are underweight, you obviously need to eat more. But, to figure out the right portion size? Keep reading.

Physical activity. If you ran 5 miles before your meal, you can probably safely have that extra slice of bacon or the extra egg. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t burn fat when you exercise. You are burning energy. What you are trying to create is a deficit of calories over a period of time to keep your body from storing excess energy. If you know you are going to be running after a meal and need some energy, bump the carbs a bit. I usually will have an apple or some almonds 30-45 minutes before a run to help with energy during my run.

How hungry are you? This is my guide. If I’m hungry, I need to listen to my body. If I’m not, once again, I need to listen to my body. There’s nothing worse than over-eating or not eating enough. There is a big difference between hunger and cravings/appetite, however, and you need to be able to recognize the difference

In the end, you know what the right portion size is. Experiment. Eat smaller and smaller portions until you find the right size. Also, put less on your plate than you think you need. My wife and I also use the small plates for meals, now. It’s easy to go get more if you need it, but if you’re like me and tend to clean your plate, don’t load up. You’re just asking for trouble with a loaded plate.

Over 1,000 Posts

IMG_8499Wow.

This is not the 1,000th post on PaleoMarine.com: that happened a few days ago. But only now am I recognizing the fact that I’ve posted over 1,000 times here.

That’s quite a milestone.

I’ve been a blogger since the 90’s, before MySpace, back when Napster was still a thing. AOL was still being used by most people, and ISP’s were finally starting to connect people to high-speed Internet. I began blogging on a self-hosted server, and after transitioning it a few times, I finally settled on WordPress.com where it’s been since.

This blog started in the fall of 2015 when my wife and I finally decided to do something about our health and weight and did our first Whole30. Afterward, we adopted the Paleo Diet with some stints of doing Keto. Nearly three years later, we have successfully kept the weight off, we are both fit, and I’m even in the National Guard.

1,000 posts of my opinions, experiences, tips, recipes, and mind hacks. That’s a lot of info to digest. I recommend you not try to read it all at once!

So, here’s to another 1,000 posts! I hope to be able to provide value, knowledge, and my experience to help others get healthy, get fit, or to lose weight.