This is one of those days…

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After a holiday weekend full of parties coupled with two nights of imbibing alcohol for various reasons, I find myself weighing more than I’d like. Way more. What does that mean to me? It means it’s time to buckle back down and get my weight back to friendly territory.

The good news is, as I’ve said before, I know how to do it. I’ve done it successfully a few times now, and while my weight is up, it’s still nothing near what I weighed three years ago. As a matter of fact, my weight has been in the range of 170-183 lbs for the past two and a half years. I’m within that range right now; I just prefer to be at the bottom of it (and my real goal is actually to be 165 lbs consistently).

My lunch was a normal food-prepped meal I made this past weekend, as will be my lunch tomorrow. This weekend, I had drill with the National Guard which means a few things: eating out for lunch, and some alcohol consumption. I will do my best to limit the alcohol, and I’ll eat sensibly at the restaurants (as I always do), but I still know I won’t make any real progress until after Monday. Then, it’s right back to it, except even stricter than I have been. I really would like to hit 170 lbs by Thanksgiving to give me a little buffer. I don’t like how my pants fit right now and I’m going to change that.

These lows will happen. Our weight will be up, clothes won’t fit as well as we’d like, and sometimes, even when we’re doing all the right things (which I admittedly have not been this past week), progress will halt or even seem to reverse. The tough part used to be sticking with the process and trusting that it will work. At this stage, it’s easy for me. It’s a formula I know works: eat the right food in the right amounts at the right times, and the weight will come off. It’s that simple. Of course, with temptation, cravings, and old habits, these are much easier said than done. However, with time and with continued perseverance, it gets easier.

As for me, I’m fine. I’m a little cranky or salty, as the kids would say, but it’s all my fault, and I know what I need to do to get myself out of this hole. I’ll do the work and get it done.

When having a life gets in the way

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Sometimes, I have to do social things that include drinking alcohol or eating non-Paleo foods. I am typically okay with the former, but not the latter: I’ll have a few drinks, but when at all possible, I won’t eat non-Paleo foods.

It seems easier for me to not follow up drinking with more drinking than it is to follow up non-Paleo food with Paleo food. I think it has to do with some of the cravings that the non-Paleo foods cause, and it can take 2-3 days sometimes for them to go away after a day of eating non-Paleo foods. This is my experience; yours may be similar, or entirely different.

I enjoy doing things with friends; going to concerts, movies, shows, vacations, restaurants, events, and holidays. I don’t want to miss out on the fun, and while it’s not necessary to drink alcohol all the time, in our society, it plays a role in social functions. I have decided that with all the exercise I do and with how strict I am with my diet, it’s okay for me to imbibe every now and then. I just can’t keep doing it day after day.

I’ve been fortunate; I’ve been able to keep the alcohol consumption to a minimum. But when I do drink, I work to keep the quantity down, and I stay away from beer and high-sugar mixed drinks. It seems to help me recover more quickly.

You have to find a balance that works for you. I’m in maintenance mode, so this works for me now, but never would have worked while I was losing my 150 lbs. Being strict and adopting a policy of NO ALCOHOL was absolutely necessary for me to avoid sabotaging my own progress and leading me off the trail to success.

Your Number One Secret to Success Is…

I’m often asked what my secret weapon was to lose 150 lbs. People assume I’ll say it’s exercise or a very restrictive diet, but actually, it’s neither. I believe that my top secret to success in losing weight and getting healthy was my mindset: perseverance, dedication, and a burning desire to not let yourself sabotage your progress.

Is nutrition important? Very. Is exercise important in weight loss? Not really, but it is beneficial. But without a mindset that allows you to stick to the diet, change your lifestyle, and resist temptation, none of the other stuff matters.

It’s like anything else in life worth attaining: A degree, certification, award, promotion, or just a job well done. It takes work, dedication, and perseverance. Losing weight and getting healthy is no different.

Magical or Miracle Foods: They Don’t Exist

I see it on Facebook at least once or twice a week; a well-made or cute video showing or describing what it supposed to be some sort of super food to either help you lose weight or to start healing your body, “In just 24 hours.” The sad reality is that this just isn’t true.

There are foods out there that are good for you: meat, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Other foods like grains, legumes, dairy, and anything with added-sugar in them won’t kill you on contact, but are best eaten in moderation, or not at all.

I remember seeing the commercials on TV for grapefruit supplements back when grapefruit was the wonder food that would “Magically melt fat from your tummy!” If any food is described as magical, miraculous, or as a super-food, it’s likely nothing more than a marketing ploy to separate  you from your money.

I get it; we all want to get the most result for the least amount of effort. It’s human nature, and it’s why grain-based foods are so popular. They’re fast, cheap, and fill you up. Unfortunately, the effects on our bodies from eating grains is detrimental over long periods of time.

Stick with what works: meat, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Eat healthy portions of healthy foods. You will find yourself feeling better, sleeping better, and having more energy. If that’s not magical, I don’t know what is.

No Exercise November

Seriously. If you’re overweight and looking to lose weight, get healthy, and to make a change in your life that will last longer than the Holiday Season, then commit to a no-exercise November. Why? Because if weight loss is your goal, then exercise is not the best way to go about getting it done. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to become a gym rat, a psycho-cyclist, or a running fool. All you need to do is change your diet.

Now, I’m not talking about going “On” a diet. I’m saying you need to change your diet. Change what you eat, how often you eat, and how much you eat. Let’s break it down Gumby-style (as we say in the Marines).

What you eat. I follow the Paleo Diet, but Whole30, keto, Atkins, or any other low-carb diet will be successful in helping you lose weight and will definitely help in making you healthier. I cut anything with added sugar, grains, alcohol, legumes, soy, and dairy. Why? Because it works for me and many other people I know. I lost 150 lbs on this lifestyle, and 110 lbs of that was within the first year.

How often you eat. I used to eat 5, 6 or even 7 times a day. Snacks were just a thing I did without thinking. Now, I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I don’t get hungry between meals unless I didn’t eat enough at the previous meal. Limiting yourself to meal times is actually good for you and helps your body get used to regulating its energy levels.

How much you eat. Being sensible in portion sizes takes time to learn, but the general rule of thumb is that if you make a cup with both your hands, your food should fit into it. More than that, and you might be over-eating. If you must snack (and let’s face it; sometimes, you just need to), make a cup with one hand and fill it half-way with nuts and eat them slowly. I used to eat very large portions, and I ate those large portions quickly. I’ve since learned to slow down and eat smaller portions. I find it fills me up faster, and allows me to eat a smaller amount of food.

I exercise because I need to remain fit. I’m in the National Guard, and a part of my job is to remain physically prepared to deploy at a moment’s notice, but if you’re not someone whose job or career depends on being physically fit and you find yourself overweight, skip the exercise for now and concentrate on your diet and lifestyle. You might surprise yourself by losing more weight than if you’d have spent your time and energy in the gym instead. Remember, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet, but you can out-diet the lack of a good exercise program as it pertains to weight loss.

Eating Gone Wrong

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I ate like a jack ass yesterday.

Yesterday, despite my best intentions, I had food that I normally don’t eat. At lunch, I was given a free appetizer of fried mushrooms, and I decided to go ahead and eat them. What I didn’t expect was how my body would react to the breading. I was gassy the entire afternoon and I felt over-stuffed. I normally don’t eat large portions, and the normal lunch coupled with an appetizer left me feeling uncomfortably full the rest of the afternoon.

Then, at dinner at a new restaurant, my wife and I were offered a free appetizer that, to her, sounded irresistible. To be fair, I thought it sounded pretty amazing too, so we decided to take them up on the offer. It was delicious, but also had potato, cheese, and sour cream. The result of eating this was a sore stomach and a general feeling of sluggishness and discomfort. Both Sherry and I couldn’t finish our meals. Honestly, I was still stuffed from lunch when we sat down to eat 7 hours after I last ate (and that was after a three mile run, as well).

What yesterday did was to remind me why I eat good foods and normal-sized portions. I had fitful sleep, and I woke up feeling bleh. When I eat my normal food, I sleep solid, get good rest, and I wake up feeling energized and ready for the world.

I eat right because I want to be healthy, and I eat right to control my weight. Now, I’m reminded to eat right because it just plain makes me feel better, and that’s actually a pretty darned good reward in and of itself.

Bacon, Bacon, Bacon!

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I’m a huge fan of bacon, and I’m very happy that it’s not only allowed on Paleo, but actually one of the better foods you can eat. When I was on keto, it was a staple. It’s funny how people who don’t understand nutrition and believe the outdated and incorrect information about fat and carbs look at me eating bacon and they say things like, “You should really eat oatmeal instead,” or “You’re going to have a heart attack eating that stuff.” It’s ironic that it’s the oatmeal that’ll kill you, yet people mistakenly believe it’s so good for you.

There is a lot of science you can find online as to why bacon is good for you. I won’t restate it here, because I’m no scientist. I recommend you search it out for yourself. Beware: there are still a large number of people who refuse to believe the newest research (and, ironically, centuries of experience) that shows that bacon is actually good for us. Look at old photographs and look at how many people are obese. Then, look at what they were eating: lots of fatty foods. Bacon, butter, whole milk, etc. The portions of grains were very low back then: it was a meat, vegetables, and fruit world.

I found this web page which is pretty funny but makes good points about why bacon is good for us (no, it’s not scientific, but it does state some things we’ve learned about bacon that make it good for us in other ways).

I eat bacon almost every day (Except on those days when I’m running late and just eat a Larabar, like this morning). I love it, and I look forward to it. Frankly, I’m kind of bummed I didn’t have any this morning. Now I want bacon. Dang it!