New Year: New You?

Are you one of the millions of people who made a New Year’s Resolution to either lose weight, get healthy, or get fit? How is that going for you so far? If you feel yourself dragging a bit or not able to stick with it, here’s some advice that I’ve used in the past to get me past the first few weeks.

  1. You’re going to feel bad. This is normal. It’s a part of taking on a new lifestyle, especially if you’re cutting out sugar. Sugar is far more addictive than people care to admit, and it’s one of the hardest addictions to kick. Once you get past feeling like crap, it gets MUCH easier. You just have to stick it out. There’s nothing anyone can do for you. There are no magic pills, shakes, or powders to get you past this stage. It’s all on you.
  2. You’re going to get cravings. It’s normal, and the difference between your success and failure (or lack of progress) will be based on your ability to persevere and discipline yourself past these temptations. I still get tempted, but I do my best to remain strong and just say, “No thanks.”
  3. You may fall off the wagon. This is something people who have lost a lot of weight don’t want to point out, because it is a failure of sorts, but to be completely honest, I can remember a few times over the years where I’ve said, “Forget this, I’m going to have a slice of bread before dinner.” Do I immediately regret it? Sure I do! But something else crazy happens: I survive. I don’t pack on 10 lbs the next day, and I don’t find myself going down the path to cakes and endless spaghetti. The key here is to recognize that you’ve fallen off the wagon and to get right back on as soon as possible. So what if you ate something you shouldn’t have eaten at lunch? Get right back to the plan at dinner. Don’t give up an entire day because you had an english muffin at breakfast. Salvage what’s left of the day by mitigating the impact of that bad food by eating right the rest of the day. The only way to fail is to give up completely.
  4. There are no shortcuts. None. There’s no magic trick or silver bullet to losing weight. There’s no wonder pill, powder, patch, or product to get you to lose weight without effort. There is only ONE way to lose weight: reduce the number of calories that go into your body to create a caloric deficit. In other words, fewer calories in than what your body uses. Of course, the quality of the calories counts for a lot more than people think, and that’s why I advocate a low-carb diet like Whole30 to get started and Paleo for the long-term. You have to do the work, as my cousin told me in the beginning of my own journey. You have to eat right, trust the process, and let it happen, but it won’t happen overnight. You have to give it time and persevere.
  5. It’s not easy, but you’re worth it. Remember this. Nobody can do this for you. Many will try to talk you out of eating right and getting fit. People will mask their own insecurities and jealousy by trying to pull you off the wagon so they won’t feel bad when they see the success you’re enjoying. Don’t let them! Stick with it and when you see that delicious jelly roll or donut, remind yourself of WHY you are eating right and WHY you are going to resist that temptation. We all have our reasons: remind yourself of what those reasons are when you are at your most vulnerable to find your strength.

Sherry and I started our first Whole30 over three years ago. We did our second Whole30 in January 2017, and we did another one last January. This year, we didn’t do another Whole30, but we did rededicate ourselves to eating correct-sized portions, sticking to Paleo-only foods, and cutting out alcohol. It’s not easy, even knowing that the process works and that it just takes time, but I take comfort in knowing that by the end of this month (or next month), I’ll weigh less and be in better shape. I also need to get more sleep, and I’m fixing that, too. It’s all a process, and as long as I’m doing the work, the results will come. Maybe not immediately, and maybe even not next week, but they will eventually arrive. And when they do, I will smile big.

Self Doubt

2015 vs 2016. There was only one year of difference in these photos.

Every now and then, I start to think I’m slipping back to being the way I was before Sherry and I did our first Whole30: morbidly obese, unhappy with my health, and feeling physically worn out and horrible. The stranger part is that, while I’m a little bit heavier now than I was at my lowest weight, I’m still 135 lbs lighter than I was at my heaviest. I’m also still very healthy, I’m fit, and nowhere near as unhealthy as my mind tries to trick me into thinking I am. So why does this happen?

I’m no doctor, psychiatrist, or any other sort of trained person to sleuth this out, but I have my ideas. First, I think it has to do with fear of going back to my old lifestyle which led me to being incredibly unhealthy and morbidly obese. I still crave pizza, garlic bread, pasta, and hamburgers from time to time, and it’s those cravings that bring me fear that I’ll just surrender one day and get right back into the old bad habits.

Second, it likely has something to do with the memories of how hard it was to do simple things like tying my shoes or going up a flight of stairs. It scares the hell out of me to think that my life was filled with so much self-inflicted misery and difficulty.

Third, I think it’s part of the drive to be better, to stay the course, and to continue on the right path. I know this one seems like it’s contrary, but hear me out. I think that fear is a healthy part of motivation. Think about it. There are days when people show up on time to work not because they want to be there, but because if they don’t, they will jeopardize their work performance or get in trouble with their boss. For me, fear of failure or back-slipping helps fuel my desire to keep going.

Fourth and finally, I think it’s possible that since I abhor losing, the fear of losing to cravings, temptation, or lack of effort is completely untenable to me. The self doubt is a reminder that I need to keep kicking myself into gear and to keep moving forward despite the smaller distractions.

Self doubt manifests itself in many ways, and while it stinks and feels like a hurdle, once I wrap my head around it, I turn it into fuel to drive me further, farther, push myself to work harder.

Not Fast, but Getting It Done

Eating: going as planned. I still think my portions are a bit on the bigger side, especially considering I’ve added salad and an apple to my dinners to get more fiber, but aside from that, with IF coupled with my Paleo foods, I think I’m getting a grip on my eating. I could use an extra 1-2 hours of sleep, though, and I will fix that tonight. I will go to sleep earlier. I’ve just been having too much fun playing The Sims 4 over the past few days.

As for running, I got out there again last night after work, and while it wasn’t even close to a good pace and was quite painful due to soreness from Friday still sticking around, I got through the entire three miles. I did have a moment after the first mile where my right knee was hurting. Not just sore, but there was some actual pain. I had to make a decision as to whether it was an injury or just a phantom pain that my body was throwing at me to get me to stop running, and I decided to try to get past it. Sure enough, the pain went away, and I was able to complete my run. The best part; there was NO pain after the run, and I was fine the rest of the night.

As for my time, I was deliberately slow. I could have ran much faster and harder, but I’ve learned that I’ve been training wrong for the past three years. I need to concentrate on distance, not speed. For speed, I need to incorporate sprints, which I’ve avoided. After another two or three weeks of slower distance runs, I’ll start to incorporate sprints. But not yet. I need to get past reconditioning and getting my legs used to running again.

A thought occurred to me last night as I ran. Taking two weeks off from running really took me out of shape. It’s as if I was in a hole on the beach, and with each day of not running, I was scooping in some sand with me in the hole. After two and a half weeks, I was buried pretty well, and working my way out will take a lot more effort and pain than it would have had I kept running. To be fair, the weather was conspiring against me with lots of rain and very cold weather. Add to that a trip to Canada and the holidays and the funeral detail I was on for a week, and it made for very little opportunities for running over the past month. Now I’m paying for it.

The bottom line is this: I can come up with hundreds of reasons every day to not run. That part is easy. The hard part is coming up with the one reason that I can’t ignore to get going. Sometimes it’s as little as, “It’s time.” Yesterday, it literally just came down to that. Time was up: I HAD to run. So, I got it done. Not my pace. Not the distance. Not anything at all. Just getting it done was the biggest victory of all.

I ran

I ran so far away! Ok, that was silly. Sorry. I’ve seen A Flock of Seagulls live twice, and they put on a good show. But why am I talking about an old 80’s band that still tours and puts on great shows? Because I finally got my run in on Friday, and I’m back to it. Of course, I ran too far and too fast on Friday and made myself sore for pretty much the entire weekend, but that’s okay. The important part was that I got started and I didn’t injure myself (being sore is not being injured; it’s a sign of a hard workout).

I took Saturday and Sunday off from running because I needed the recovery, but I will be back at it again this evening unless it’s raining. I don’t start runs in the rain (but I don’t mind finishing them if it starts raining while I’m on a run. Weird).

Texas A&M Bonfire Memorial in College Station, TX.

I did spend a lot of time walking on Saturday, however. Sherry and I ran a bunch of errands in the morning after which we drove to College Station to see the Museum of the GI and the Texas A&M Bonfire Memorial. The museum was a lot of fun, while the memorial was somber but very nicely done. We read the plaques of each of the 12 students who died in that tragedy, and while Sherry didn’t know any of them personally, she knew many who did. She was a student at the school at the time it happened and she remembers it all too well.

Helmet of soldier from 36th Infantry Division in WWI.

My weight is up a bit due to this weekend’s eating. I have to admit that Friday, I ate a very large (albeit Paleo) dinner and even had a dessert (when friends offer, you don’t refuse; that’s just bad manners). I also at a bit more than I’d have liked on Sunday, and I ate breakfast both days. I’m back to my normal IF routine again this morning and even though I forgot to bring the lunch Sherry made for me, I have some Larabars and RXBars that I will choose from at lunch to keep my stomach from digesting itself.

I joked last night with Sherry that I want the weight to go away immediately, and she laughed and said that I sounded like her. She then started telling me the things I always tell her when she gets frustrated: It takes time, trust the process, and perseverance will win. I smiled and told her that, of course, she’s right, and I just need to be patient. So, I’m being patient, but I’m also back to running which helps ease my mind a bit. I know it’s not going to make me lose weight, but it helps relieve stress and will get me back into shape for my APFT this year.

Still Not Running (but I am eating right!)

Lazy? Maybe. It was 46 degrees out, and I decided I wasn’t going to run in that cold weather. How about the kettlebells? I didn’t hit them either because I had some sort of stomach issue that wasn’t making me feel able to do much of anything physical last night. I think it had to do with a small amount of ranch dressing I allowed myself at lunch with my 5 wings. It turns out that even that little bit of dairy messes me up.

Tonight, I will not likely have the opportunity to do much of any exercise due to a standing dinner date Sherry and I have with friends. This weekend, however, I have plans for bike riding, running, and kettlebells, so I should be back on track in terms of fitness very soon.

On the diet side, with the exception of the aforementioned 1 TBSP of ranch dressing, I ate on-track yesterday. I made sure to eat a salad before dinner (which was one of my favorites: the chorizo and beef meatloaf with broccoli and mushrooms) and had an apple afterward. I’m trying to get a lot more fiber into my diet, and the salad and apples will help a lot with that.

On the positive side of not running for the third week is that a lot of aches and pains I’ve had in the past have pretty much subsided or have gone away completely. I’ll be starting fresh again, and with a much better running routine. I’ve got a renewed motivation and I think 2019 will be a good year for my run times. I’m hoping to beat my best 5k time by over a minute later this year. That’s my goal, and I plan on hitting it! I also have the weight to lose and another APFT coming up later this year, and I have to be ready for that, too!

So, thumbs down on me not running yesterday, but thumbs up for eating right! The weight is already coming off; I just need to continue the course of eating right. The fitness stuff will come soon. I just need to hit “Go” on my motivation to do it. Oh, and it needs to warm up a little bit, too.

Starting off with dessert?

Yesterday went really well as it pertains to food with one exception: an unplanned for dessert. A co-worker of Sherry’s made some Hungarian cookies that she gave us, and she specifically wanted me to try them to see how close to authentic they were. So, I had them. They were delicious! But ultimately, it added a day to my official start of eating right.

Today, I skipped breakfast as I’m still practicing Intermittent Fasting (IF), but lunch was 5 wings, some sweet potato fries, and a few pieces of celery. I was worried about how filling 5 wings would actually be since I normally eat 10 at lunch, but surprisingly, I was full after eating! That made me very happy, because I hate feeling hungry. To the contrary, I felt satisfied after eating the 5 wings. What I didn’t feel for the first time in a long time was stuffed. I think I’m finally getting used to just being satisfied without getting stuffed.

Tonight, I hope to either run or swing some kettlebells (depending on the weather). If it’s under 50 degrees, I’ll just swing the bells. I made a rule last year that outside of military or 5k’s, I refuse to run outside if the temperature is less than my age. Well, refuse is strong. More like I take it under serious consideration.

The weight loss has already begun, however, despite the dessert yesterday after dinner. I also got a lot of sleep last night which also helps. I will be careful with the amount of sleep I get, my portions, and the content of my food. I am finding it harder to get started with the exercise this time around, but I know that once I get started, it gets easier. It’s just getting those first few steps or swings in.

Happy New Year!

2019 is here, and along with it, a new resolve to get back to basics and to reduce portion sizes, increase the frequency of my runs/exercise, and to reduce the number of times each week I eat dinner at a restaurant.

I’m pretty healthy. Heck, I went to the doctor on Monday, and he said as much. But, I gained a lot of weight in Ireland and Scotland that I’ve had a hard time getting rid of coupled with a lack of real motivation or determination. Sprinkle in some weekend trips with good food and lots of drink, and the result is a waist that is about 2″ larger and a weight that is around 20 lbs more than I’d like.

SO, as I said: back to basics. I know it works. I know it can be done, and in the end, it’s really not all that difficult for me to do. I just need to care. I guess that’s really at the core of all this health and fitness stuff: you need to CARE about yourself enough to let all the other temptations and indulgences go past you. I haven’t done enough of that in the past 10 months or so, and now, that has come to an end.

Lots of people make New Year’s resolutions. I don’t do that, but I have used the end of the holiday season to strengthen my resolve, rededicate and motivate myself to accomplish the aforementioned items. I will not allow myself to fail, falter, or to be lax.