Back to Running

After an absence of two weeks from the roads outside my house, I was finally able to return to running today. I hurt a nerve in my lower back while stretching during physical training during annual training, and I was advised by the doctor there to take it easy for a week or two to let it heal properly. Against my own wishes, I followed his advice, and I waited out the two weeks. It was tough, but after today’s run, I have to say it was worth it.

I ran slow: a 10:30/mile pace over the 3.2 miles, but afterward, I felt great. Sure, I was tired, but I wasn’t sore. On top of that, I actually felt amazing. I’ve missed how I feel post-runs.

Sure, I don’t always want to start running. Heck, I think the vast majority of the time, I try to find reasons to not run, but in the end, I can’t find a good enough excuse most of the time, so I just do it. I’ve not yet regretted starting a run, but I do regret every run I have talked myself out of.

I plan on continuing with my running as I was before: 3-4 times a week. I will continue with that while at my military school next month, and I’m hoping to be well back in the swing of things within two to three weeks.

As for push ups, I was able to hit 60 without any problems. My arms, it seems, are still just as strong as before. My legs are probably in much better shape than I’m giving them credit for, but I wanted to take it easy. I did have a little knee discomfort in my right knee at the beginning of the run, but it faded after the first half mile.

30 minutes, three times a week. That’s what you should be shooting for. It doesn’t matter if you are walking, jogging, running, bicycling, swimming, or anything else. Just do something for your heart. You aren’t “Burning fat,” but you are using up calories that otherwise might have been stored up. If you do that often enough, you create a deficit of calories as long as you don’t increase your caloric intake. The net result is weight loss and better heart health.

I know someone who lost a lot of weight on…

IMG_6470If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this, I’d have a lot of money. “I know someone who lost a lot of weight eating only vegetables,” or “…eating only potatoes,” or “…eating cabbage soup,” etc. I don’t doubt that people have been successful on these fringe, alternative, or deprivation diets. It’s possible to lose weight eating just about anything as long as the amount of calories you put in your mouth is less than the amount of calories your body expends in a day. Now, not all calories are made alike, and some are healthier than others (100 calories of apples vs 100 calories of a Snicker’s bar), but ultimately, calories in < calories out will result in weight loss.

What I have found, however, is that the more delicious, varied, and healthy a diet is, the easier it is to adopt it long-term and to stick to it without temptation, cheating, or cravings. That’s why Whole30 and the Paleo Diet have worked so well for me: I get to eat lots of delicious foods that don’t bore me and fill me up.

What you decide to eat is your decisions. I have made my choice, and while it works for me, it may not necessarily work for you. That’s why I advocate finding what works best for you, and then sticking to it. Whatever you do, make sure it’s a diet you can adopt long-term, and that it is something you are comfortable with. The more comfortable you are on a diet, the higher the probability of success will be.

Drinking Tons of Water?

dsc05069I don’t understand this one. There’s this belief out there that you need to drink a ton of water daily to effectively lose weight. While it’s true that we need to be properly hydrated, especially if you’re doing lots of exercise, the fact is that there are many more people who are over-hydrating than under-hydrating. Oh, and you won’t lose more weight by peeing more.

Unless you’re running hard for more than 30 minutes at one time, there’s most likely little to no need for carrying a water bottle or water source with you. Your body is pretty good at being properly hydrated if you drink before a 30 minute run. You cannot possibly deplete your hydration if you are properly hydrated before a 30 minute run within said 30 minutes. The problem arises for those who are not properly hydrated before they go out for a run.

Does being properly hydrated help you lose weight? Sure. We need lots of water for our bodies to process foods properly during digestion, and a part of that is being hydrated enough to flush wastes effectively. But, the fact of the matter is that your body is really good at telling you when you need a drink. It’s a mechanism known as thirst. If you are thirsty, drink.

Are all drinks made alike? Of course they are not (and you knew this). Do you need Gatorade, Powerade, or any other kind of ade if you run 2-3 miles? Most likely not. You have to be engaged in some very seriously tough physical activity to need electrolytes. Unless you are training for a marathon or 10k+, you likely will do well enough with water. If you want to get crazy, maybe add a slice of lemon or a slice of cucumber to your water.

The other important thing to note is that a lot of those “Ades” have a ton of sugar in them; in some cases, as much (or more) than a can of soda. I avoid them. Instead, I prefer to drink coconut water-based drinks post-workout. They contain some carbs which help with muscle recovery, and they are refreshing.

So, with all that said, there’s no need to carry around the jug of water you need to drink every day. That’s just too much. And in case you’re wondering: yes, too much water is bad for you (and can even kill you). So drink when you’re thirsty, pre-hydrate before your exercise sessions, and you will be fine.

Is it really so hard?

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My grandparents were amazing people. The hardships they endured eclipse anything I’ve ever had to deal with. Whenever I am feeling like I’m up against something tough, or that I’m up against the ropes, so to speak, I think about my grandparents and the things they had to endure. And it wasn’t just one thing, mind you: they went through hardship after hardship for about 20 years. They were some very tough people with very big hearts and strong stomachs.

People say that eating right is hard. They say that giving up pizza or bread or pasta is hard, or that they just can’t live without a beer or two. I refuse to accept those answers whenever I ask people why they aren’t eating right. I know things much tougher than giving up ice cream: walking across a border with a 10 month old child and a 10 year old daughter, not knowing if you will make it across, and with an uncertain future in an unknown country. Having everything in your life ripped away from you due to politics. Finding yourself in a new country with no language skills, no place to live, and no money, all while having two kids in tow. Then, try to build a life, raise the kids, and provide for them to not only survive, but to eventually thrive in their new homeland. Then, against all odds, save enough to retire comfortably. THAT is hard. But they did it.

And so, I take my motivation from them. I get stressed out about having to lose another 10 lbs, but I know I can do it. I’ve done it before; I will do it again. I also know that the weight loss takes time, just as it took time for my grandparents to save enough to retire. I know it takes sacrifice: I love pasta, pizza, and bread! But, to remain healthy, fit, and to lose this last 10 lbs, I need to give them up.

I take comfort in knowing how proud of me my grandparents would be today. My grandmother always admonished me to lose weight, and I told her that someday I would. I remember her saying to me, “I will never forgive you if you die before me.” It is for this reason that when I was informed that she had passed away, the first thought in my mind was that I’m off the hook from making her angry at me for dying first. Now, with me having lost all the weight, and with all the positive changes in my life, she would be very happy for me.

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I’ve written in the past about finding your motivation. This is different. This is about putting things into perspective. Is giving up something that’s bad for you really so hard? If you are worth it, and if you want to live longer and healthier, perhaps eating foods made from whole ingredients and without grains, soy, dairy, or added sugar may be worth all the trouble.

My Magic Weight Loss Trick

paleomarinecomimages_8_original_bueenboc3zkI swear it’s a magic trick. It’s something I overlook too often, and find myself smacking myself on the forehead about every time I finally remember. It’s something that slips out of habit easily, and when it does, it wreaks havoc on my weight loss. What is this elusive magic trick? Sleep.

You read right; it’s sleep. Getting a good, solid 8 hours is one of the biggest factors in weight loss. I know there are scientific reasons listed as to why sleep is so important for weight loss, and I could spell it all out for you here, but that’s not what my site is about. I’m all about the mind tricks, motivation, and perseverance. In this case, the mind trick is getting enough sleep to allow your body to fully process and lose the weight, and for your mind to clear for you to be able to keep your head clear and in the game for the coming day.

With sleep, not only will your body fully and properly process the food you’ve taken in the day before, but your mind will be clear so that you can resist the temptations, handle the false appetite, and push past cravings that are only there due to boredom. Whenever I find myself in a plateau, the first place I look is how much sleep I’ve not been getting, and sure enough, I find that I need to increase my sleep amounts.

I know: you’re busy. We’re all busy. But sleep is something we all aren’t getting enough of. From what I understand, the vast majority of Americans are sleep deprived. We feel like there’s so much to do and so little time to do it in that we sacrifice our sleep to get more in. I totally get it; I do the same. But for my body health’s sake, and for my mental health’s sake, I force myself to get sleep. I’m not perfect at it, but I continue to take stock of my sleep amounts, and when I find it lacking, I get to bed early. More often then not, I’m thankful for the extra sleep, and ultimately, what I gave up for the sleep ended up not being so important in the long run. My health and weight loss, on the other hand, mean a lot more to me!

Try to increase your sleep duration. You will find yourself feeling much better, and more likely, you’ll find yourself weighing less in the mornings.

It’s All About the Food

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A delicious Bulgogi Sherry made this weekend during food prep for the week.

When people talk to me about embarking on their own health journey, they go to lengths to tell me about their plans for fitness. It’s as if somehow, they aren’t truly sincere unless they add exercise to their plan. When I tell them that it’s not necessary to work themselves to death to lose weight and get healthy, some people actually get sad or even a bit upset with me. “That can’t be true!” “That’s not what my trainer/coach/workout buddy/friends/etc told me!” “But… but… but…”

Sigh.

Here are facts about losing weight and getting fit:

  • If you want to lose weight, change the makeup and amount of the food you are putting into your mouth.
  • If you want to get fit, exercise.

It literally is that simple. As for what diet you want to use to lose weight (coupled with reasonable amounts of food as servings), that’s up to you. My site is called PaleoMarine.com because I am on the Paleo Diet (although I started with a Whole30 and also do some Keto every now and then), so I recommend it based on my own positive experiences and success on this particular diet, but I would be remiss to dismiss other diets that people have achieved success through.

The bottom line is eat right. Eat the right food in the right amounts. What’s the right amount? Eat slowly until you start to feel full. Then stop. It’s harder than it sounds and takes practice, but your body is really good at telling you when you’ve had enough. You just have to listen carefully.

Erasing Negativity

IMG_3763Something people don’t consider strongly enough is just how much of getting healthy and fit is in their head. Most people assume incorrectly that if they do enough exercise, they will lose weight. They also assume that they can eat anything they want as long as they do so in moderation. If moderation worked, nobody would be overweight because it would be so easy to execute!

The most important thing for anyone undertaking a healthy lifestyle is to erase negativity. Thinking about or focusing on the things you can no longer or should no longer be eating is negative thinking. Instead, here are some things I’ve done to erase negativity and embrace my healthier lifestyle:

  • Make a list of foods you CAN eat. You’ll be surprised at how much food you love and already eat you can continue to eat while losing weight and getting healthy.
  • Stock your pantry and refrigerator with good foods and whole ingredients. Having snacks or food that’s good for you to begin with make it easier to focus on the positives of cooking healthier foods.
  • When you have a craving or false appetite, think of something you enjoy that is a healthier option: nuts, fruits, or even some jerky or a slice of bacon will often do the trick.
  • Fake it until you make it. If you find yourself being negative, literally pretend everything is okay and that any negativity you are feeling is fake and force yourself to think happy thoughts. This sounds corny and ridiculous, but it works! This is how I got myself to enjoy running. Every time I would feel the dread of an upcoming run, I would instead force myself to be happy about it. I didn’t even think of positive aspects; literally, just forced myself to be happy. The craziest part: it worked.

Your mind is your strongest asset when adopting a healthy lifestyle. It’s up to you to make yourself succeed by having a positive mindset to push through and persevere. Getting healthy isn’t easy, but it can be made easier by having a good attitude.