Never Starve

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A weekend of great food and no restraint led to some weight gain.

Back when I used to do “Diets,” I used to starve myself. I wasn’t doing a proper IF: I never went a full 16 hours or more without eating. Instead, I would eat small amounts of food, and I would feel miserable until the next meal. Then, I’d under-eat again, and repeat the cycle. The only problem was that by the time I got to dinner, I would tend to overeat, and any gains I made during the day in regards to calorie deficits were wiped out (and worse, most likely I ate more than I otherwise would have because I was starving).

Part of what I love so much about Whole30 and Paleo is that they taught me to eat good, whole-ingredient foods, and these foods allow me to eat until I’m comfortable and then not feel hungry between meals. Do I ever get hungry between meals? Sure! I find that happens if I either ate too little, or if I am doing a lot of physical activity and burning lots of calories.

My problem lately, however, is that I’ve been allowing myself (once again) to eat larger portions than I should be, and that has slowed my weight loss. This past weekend, I ate and drank a lot of non-Paleo foods due to a weekend trip to San Antonio, and while it was delicious and fun, I’m back to a weight I don’t like. The good news is, however, that a week of IF and Paleo and I’ll be back down to pre-weekend levels.

I never starve. I don’t allow myself to anymore. I eat slowly, and I eat until I feel comfortable. I don’t stuff myself (that’s a different problem entirely), but I eat until I feel like I’ve stated my appetite. This is important because feeling full between meals keeps you from snacking and keeps your mind off food. Further, it keeps you from overeating at the next meal.

If you find yourself hungry between meals, think about the portion you ate, and how you can augment it with more filling foods. Maybe you’re just not eating enough. You shouldn’t be hungry between meals, and worse, you should not be starving yourself. It’s possible to lose weight steadily without starving. I did it, and I know you can do it, too!

Another Case of the “I Could Never Do That’s,” or Try It Before You Give Up

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This morning, I was offered some free breakfast at work. I turned it down and said, “Thank you, but I don’t eat breakfasts right now. I’m doing IF.” Admittedly, that’s far more information than I should have given, and I have decided from now on, I’ll leave that last sentence off. But I said it, and I had to deal with the consequences. “What’s IF?” I explained intermittent fasting, to which she replied, “Oh, I could never do that.”

I bit. I asked why. She said, “Because I would get too light-headed.” I told her that I had the same fear, and that sure, the first day was tough, but it got better. She didn’t want to hear it. “There’s no way I could ever do that” and I was literally waved off.

The reason I am writing this is not because it’s a new experience or because I’ surprised. I’m writing about it because it made me realize something I’ve been doing and I never quite realized it. I have finally gotten to the point where I don’t dismiss things without trying them first. I won’t give up on making myself better, finding a more efficacious diet plan, or a better lifestyle without trying something new first. If it doesn’t work for me, that’s fine. I’m okay with that, because I tried.

I know some people who tried Whole30, Paleo, IF, Keto, and others and couldn’t make it work for them. They tell me that they failed at these diets with sadness or disappointment. I tell them, “That’s cool. Don’t be upset. You tried something and it didn’t work. Now you know what doesn’t work; find what DOES work for you!” Undertaking a new lifestyle is a big step, and one size does not fit all. Sure, it’s based on science, but we are all different in our genetic makeup. It may take a few tries to find the right diet for you. I’m fortunate that I found Whole30 and Paleo, and now I’m augmenting Paleo with IF. It works for me. That’s not to say it will work for you. You need to do the work to find the winning combination for your life. Just don’t give up before you even try.

Trading Discomfort for Discomfort

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A co-worker of mine was telling me about her workout regimen. It was 30 minutes of walking, 20 minutes of cardio, and 10 minutes of running. Just listening to it made me tired, and I have to admit, I was thinking to myself that I couldn’t do that much work. It’s just too much. I’d be too sore. The discomfort is more than I’m willing to accept. I asked her why she was doing this to herself, and she replied that it was to lose weight.

I explain to people that I had to do a lot of work to lose weight, but it’s not the kind of work people expect. I am told more often than not that “You must have spent a lot of time in the gym to lose all that weight.” Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, I vehemently fought doing any sort of exercise in my first year of weight loss. Only when I decided to get back into the military did I start exercising, and that was to improve my fitness level, not to lose weight.

The “Work” did to lose weight, in retrospect, didn’t really feel like much work at all. I wrote in the past about how I felt like I had found a cheat code to life as I was eating bacon, eggs, sausage, brisket, pulled pork, and other foods we’d been taught were bad for us and losing 10+ lbs per month, month after month. Compared to spending time in the gym, it was completely effortless. The only discomfort I felt was in learning a new lifestyle; I honestly was never hungry once I kicked the sugar habit.

The discomfort I felt was traded in preference over any discomfort in the gym (and with that said, I know fully well that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet!). The amount of exercise I’d have to do to burn more calories than I was eating would have me exercising in excess of 6-8 hours a day! I was not willing to accept that, and I took the logical and less discomfortable route: changing my lifestyle.

You’re going to feel some level of discomfort if you undertake losing weight in earnest. You might as well choose the least discomfortable method available. For me, that was changing my diet. It was so easy to do that I’ve adopted the diet for life, and I feel no discomfort at all to this day.

Life is Full of Discomfort

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One thing that has been on my mind lately is how often I’m told by people that they could never do X because they aren’t willing to accept the discomfort associated with it. Whether it’s exercise, abstaining from alcohol, or adopting a new lifestyle; people want change to happen in their lives without any discomfort. Well, I have some bad news: It’s just not possible, and it’s just not going to happen.

Discomfort comes in many forms: physical, emotional, tiredness, loneliness, hunger, among others. When I did my first Whole30, there was a lot of discomfort. Not only did I find myself under emotional duress at not being able to eat all day (something I did for comfort), but I found myself hungry and feeling the most intense flu-like symptoms I’ve had without actually having the flu. The good news is that it passed relatively quickly for me, but in learning a new way of eating, I faced more discomfort as I felt uneasy and awkward with what I could vs couldn’t eat.

Right now, as I write this, I feel slight discomfort. My legs are sore from the great run I had last night, and my arms are sore from the 70 push ups I did within 2 minutes (not my max; I stop before my arms strain too much). My stomach is also grumbling because I’m about 20 minutes out from my regular lunchtime, and since I’m doing IF, I have to stick to the plan. Is this discomfort going to kill me? No. It’s all manageable, and if I am being completely honest, I kind of like it. It reminds me that I’m active, I’m engaged in my health and fitness, and I’m able to persevere past slight discomfort.

I also felt some discomfort last night in the last quarter of a mile of my three-mile run. Now, anytime I feel pain during a run, I make a quick determination as to whether the pain is injury-related, or my body getting used to the exertion. In this case, I quickly realized that it was my body being pushed to its limit, so while I backed off just a tiny bit to allow the pain to subside, I immediately kicked it back up as soon as the pain went away and ended up finishing strong. Again, this was an acceptable amount of discomfort, but it’s all for a good reason: my fitness.

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Have you ever been fishing? If you haven’t, allow me to explain. When you hook a fish, it immediately begins to fight against the hook and your line. Depending on the size and type of fish, these fights can last a long time. I caught a jack earlier this year, and the fight took over an hour. I felt every pulse of the fish as he fought me. I ended up prevailing and the fish eventually tired out and couldn’t fight against me reeling him in. But he never fully gave up. I am certain that he felt all kinds of discomfort (I know I did, and for days afterward!) but the discomfort was worth it to the fish because he believed his life depended on it. In the end, it did not, as I released him back into his home, but the lesson is clear: if you value the outcome enough, no level of discomfort is unacceptable.

Anything worthwhile takes, effort, time, and will often be accompanied by discomfort. You have to learn to accept discomfort if you want to accomplish anything in life, not just weight loss, improved health, and fitness. They do, however, go hand-in-hand. You’d be surprised at the amount of discomfort you can put up with when you value the outcome greatly enough.

Ran… as planned

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Look at that crazy hair! That’s proof I ran fast right there!

I wrote yesterday about not being able to run for a week (which, as it turns out, it has been: 7 whole days). Well, the weather was perfect, and while it was getting dark quickly, I hit the sidewalk “Track” around the lake in front of my house and ran my 3 miles. What I didn’t expect was the pace: I ran it at about the same pace (if not a little faster) than I have been! I also got in 70 push ups, which is about 10 more than usual. Perhaps this little break did me more good than bad.

I won’t be running tonight; I let my legs rest after run days (being older and all), and I also have after-work plans with Sherry to visit our friends for dinner and some Doctor Who watching. Tomorrow, I will be on my feet pretty much all day as we’re going to Wurstfest in New Braunfels followed by a stay at the Emily Morgan in San Antonio. We will be having a fancy dinner to celebrate the Marine Corps Birthday where I’ll wear my Dress Blues uniform and Sherry will wear a nice dress. After that, I look forward to hitting a few bars before turning in for the night.

IF is keeping me happy about my weight. Yesterday, I was down another pound, and this morning, it held steady with last night’s post-run weight. I will be eating strictly according to plan today and will practice IF again tomorrow morning, but I expect some non-Paleo foods to be consumed during the day, and of course, there will be alcohol tomorrow night.

For those Marines out there, I wish you a Happy Birthday!

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Never Give Up

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We go through stretches in life where, regardless of how well we plan and in spite of our best intentions, things just don’t go our way. I planned on running a lot this week, but I haven’t been able to hit the road for one reason or another. Every morning, I tell myself, “Finally. We get to start again this afternoon,” and then something comes up that keeps me from running. The good news for me is that I’m in pretty good shape, so all I’m really losing right now is speed, and since I already took my APFT for the year, that’s not as troubling. I was making some serious and solid progress, though, in both speed and distance. That stinks. But what I know I will be able to do is get right back into it. It’ll take 2-3 weeks to get my speed and distance back, but that’s okay.

I won’t let life getting in the way of my runs get me down. I won’t let this be the end of my running. I can’t. I won’t allow this to make me sad or depressed. I take my frustration and turn it into determination. Tonight, when I get home from work, I WILL run. I WILL get out there. And if I can’t? I’ll set my mind to do it again tomorrow.

Keep in mind, I’m not finding stupid reasons to not run, the worst of which is, “I just don’t feel like doing it.” My reasons have been schedule conflicts, injury, and weather. Anything less than that, and I’d have been out there. So, tonight, I’ll be out there running around the little lake in front of my house. I’ll run my 3 miles minimum, and after that, I’ll have a shower, some dinner, and then some time with some fellow Soldiers.

Never allow yourself to give up. Even if your plan or schedule is delayed, keep trying to get at it. It’s the person who perseveres that accomplishes the mighty and those who give up get nowhere.

Not Just Holding Steady Anymore

file-4In my best radio announcer’s voice, “This morning’s scale victory is brought to you today by Intermittent Fasting!” I haven’t been able to run now in over a week due to schedules and weather, and that leaves me rather grouchy. Not only am I losing all the progress I’ve been working so hard for, but it normally also impacts my ability to control my weight. Last week, I started IF, and I was optimistic that it would help me lose weight. Then, drill weekend happened where I ate bad food and drank a lot of alcohol. However, IF helped me do something I’d never done before: hold my weight steady through a drill weekend. This morning, after two days of normal eating and staying away from alcohol, I’m down almost 2 lbs!

It’s good to see that it’s working. What’s weirder yet is that I’m not as miserable, cranky, or tired as I thought I would be. The first day or two of IF feels weird because when you’re used to eating breakfast every day for years, there’s a part of your routine that’s missing. I also adore bacon and eggs, so not having them in the morning is sad for me. I honestly miss it. But the results have been exceeding my expectations, and I can now see myself possibly getting back into the 160’s sooner rather than never (or later).

The details of what I’m doing are as follows: I skip breakfast, but I do drink coffee. I eat my first meal of the day at 11 am, and I eat my second meal between 5 and 7 pm. That’s it. I don’t snack or eat all through the day, but I do drink coffee. This is a 16/8 IF, although truthfully, I don’t eat throughout that 8 hour window. It’s the window in which I can eat when I do eat.

I have been keeping my serving sizes exactly the same as they were before, and I haven’t found myself feeling hungry or wanting more. Now that I’ve been at this for over a week, I actually feel quite focused in the mornings, and not nearly as hungry. But don’t get me wrong: I could definitely enjoy having a breakfast. But the slight hunger I live with in the mornings seems to dissipate with each passing day as my body adapts to this new lifestyle.

I’m not sure how long I’ll stick to IF. However, if doing IF coupled with Paleo allows me to stray from the norm every now and then without negative repercussions on the scale, I may stick to it. I told Sherry this morning that IF will definitely be a part of any future vacations we take. Gaining 12 lbs after a 10 day trip is not something I want to keep repeating every year.