Preparation for Four Days of RXBars and Epic Bars

For the next four days starting tomorrow morning, I’m going to be living on RXBars and Epic Bars with the occasional nut or Larabar. Why? Because I’m going to be in the field with the Army National Guard, and I prefer to not eat MRE’s (mostly carb-heavy, fortified, and super-calorie dense) or the catered food (which is typically also pasta/carb heavy). That means I live off the “Bars” for a few days. Can it be done?

I did it successfully on my first field operation in over 20 years back in 2017 for two weeks. While I did imbibe the occasional fruit, egg, or meat serving the cooks would serve us, for the most part, I lived on the bars I took with me. It worked exceedingly well. I felt well-fed, my appetite was sated, and I felt full of energy.

I always keep a few bars in my backpack at work in case I have to miss a lunch or other meal, and sometimes, I end up enjoying the bar a lot more than I would have expected. See, I actually like how RXBars, Epic Bars, and Larabars taste. They are like candy, in a way, and I take my time to eat them slowly to savor them. I know some people don’t like them at all; that’s okay. I just happen to be someone who does. I guess I’m lucky that way.

So, tonight’s dinner will be my last real meal until Sunday night. Even then, I may not have real food since my wife will be out of town. I might be living on the Bars for longer than four days. Or maybe I can convince her to make something in the slow cooker or Instant Pot for me while I’m gone so I won’t starve this week. We’ll see how that turns out.

Back to the Fight

And now is the part of weight loss that I dislike; the yo-yo while achieving small losses. My weight will hit a new low, then rise a bit, then go back down (hopefully lower), then back up, etc. It’s annoying. But it’s how it goes. Again, this is all stuff I’ve experienced in the past so it’s nothing new (and shouldn’t bother me), but here we are. I am getting enough sleep, my portions are (for the most part) correct, and I’m doing IF (16-8). The only thing I’m not doing very much of right now is exercise due to my right knee injury and an impending field exercise I don’t want to risk an injury before.

This week will be a rather short one for me in terms of blogging; I won’t be able to do updates from Thursday through Sunday due to being at Fort Hood out in the cold, the rain, and the mud. I will be taking my requisite RXBars and Lara Bars along with some nuts, but that’ll be my sustenance for the four-day period. I may eat what the cooks make us if it’s Paleo enough, but if the past is any indication, it’ll be mostly pasta or something with a bun/muffin/roll/etc.

What determines whether a person succeeds or fails is whether that person can power through adversity and difficulty to success. Right now, this yo-yo period, this is my adversity. I will not allow myself to fail. I will push through, continue the fight, and never surrender (and no more sabotage!).

Stupid Onion Rings

Sherry and I went out for dinner last night to a wing place here locally that we enjoy. The food is always good, and the wings aren’t super-over-sized and the side serving of sweet potatoes is not ridiculously huge. However, we were offered a free appetizer of onion rings, and Sherry and I decided to go for it.

We shouldn’t have.

I was sweating all night long in the bed, and I tossed and turned. My body was working overtime to get rid of the carbs in the breading that was on the onion rings. Then, the scale: Up 2 lbs. Of course. Every time I eat something with breading, the weight goes up due to the water retention.

So, I sabotaged myself. Sherry and I talked about it, and we are both going to make sure the other doesn’t do stupid stuff like this anymore. Were they tasty? Heck yes! But was the loss of progress worth it? Heck no!

I remind myself that this is an ongoing process. A journey. There is no real destination; only a road we travel that we have to navigate past and around pot holes, hazards, and other people. In this case, we hit the pothole head-on and dented the wheel a little, but that’s okay. We will learn from this and move forward without onion rings.

It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it

Last night, I went out with some friends for dinner at a bar. This is a local bar that I really like; the steaks there are absolutely fantastic. The cuts of meat are generous and of very high quality, and the proprietor/chef does an amazing job preparing them. The bar itself is fun: not trying too hard to be hip or trendy, yet hitting those chords perfectly. The drinks are good, and the service is always spot-on. What drew me there last night was the filet mignon served with a salad and garlic mashed potatoes. What I wanted to avoid was the alcohol.

It wasn’t easy. I was tempted more than a few times to have a drink, but I resisted. No, I’m not an alcoholic, and I don’t feel drawn to drinking. It’s just that after a long day or a long week, a cider really tastes good. I get it. But the thing is, while I thought having a cider would have been nice, I kept coming back to, “I’m in strict diet mode right now. I have to avoid the alcohol.” Eating the potatoes was as far as nearly off the reservation as I was allowing myself to go. Alcohol was simply unacceptable, and I kept it that way.

You know what? My friends were totally cool with it and understanding. No peer pressure or judgment from them (which is the opposite of what I got from the bartender who gave me a judgy look for ordering “Un-sweet iced tea.” I know it was in jest, but still.

The other thing that was amazing is how empowered I felt after dinner. On my drive home, I had time to think about the evening, how nice the food was, and the conversations and laughs with friends. But I also thought about how not drinking didn’t ruin the evening, how it allowed me to continue making progress in getting to my weight and size goals, and how much better I felt for that.

The best part; this morning, I was down another 2 lbs. That’s 7 total in four days. The Paleo Diet works if you give it all the effort you have. And no, I haven’t exercised AT ALL this week due to my knee injury. Maybe next week I’ll get back to running, but so far, I’m just letting my body heal a bit before I start with exercise again.

What is Healthy Food, Anyway?

Last night, I decided to stop at the local healthy food store to pick up some grass-fed steak, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes for a dinner I was making for Sherry and I. While I was checking out, I took notice of the food that my fellow shoppers were buying in a bid to be healthy. NONE of it was what I’d consider to be healthy food, yet these people were shopping at this place and purchasing food that they believed would help them be healthy and to lose weight (it was pretty obvious that they were trying to lose weight based on the choices; I know, because I made those exact same choices in the past when I was trying to lose weight before I knew about Paleo, Whole30, Keto, etc).

Once again, as it always does, it made me sad. But, I didn’t say anything. It’s not my place to be the diet police, nor is it acceptable for me to just bluntly give advice when it’s not asked for. I just watched the items get checked out by the grocer, and two of the people in front of me even had a conversation about how the food they were buying was so bland but “All the stuff that’s good for you just tastes so bad.”


Healthy food is fuel that doesn’t negatively affect your health. It doesn’t cause cravings and false appetite. Healthy food doesn’t spike your blood sugar, and it doesn’t force your body to store excess energy faster than you can use it. Healthy food is food that leaves your body fulfilled until the next meal. It nourishes and fuels you for whatever it is you do. Healthy food doesn’t mean organic. There is organic cane sugar that is as bad for you as any hard drug. Organic doesn’t mean healthy. And that’s a big part of the problem. Misunderstanding.

I have spoken to so many people who mistakenly believe that organic means healthy. There are also countless number of people who still believe that things like bacon, butter, and fat is bad for them. These very same people eat oatmeal, bread, and peanut butter in a feeble attempt to get healthy. When they are successful, it’s likely due to CICO: Calories In/Calories Out. They simply ate fewer calories than they took in. But it’s not because the organic whole wheat bread with peanut butter and organic jelly is actually good for them.

I was asked today what long-term studies have shown that the Paleo Diet is good for you. There are many studies under way, and there have been studies done in the past, but to me, the most telling study is that of my own grandparents and great-grandparents who ate high-fat low-carb diets and all lived well into their 80’s and 90’s. That’s all I need to know about what’s good for my body. Oh, and the fact that I still feel great at 51 (better, in fact, than I did at 30!) and my blood work backs it up has sold me on the lifestyle.

Four (Almost Five!) Pounds in Three Days

Just as I expected, I have already lost half of the weight I gained in San Francisco in three days. This is completely normal, and pretty much how it goes every time I drink for more than two days in a row. I gain weight, and three days later, it’s gone. Only this time, the weight I’m still carrying is weight I earned through eating lots of carbs. Oh well; I knew that, too, and I know what’s next: eat right and lose the rest.

That’s the beauty of having been doing this for almost four years: I know how my body reacts and responds to the different types and quantities of food. I know that if I stick to my portions and the types of food that Sherry and I make, that I will lose weight consistently and safely. Add in a smattering of exercise, and I can accelerate the rate of loss a bit.

The biggest jump in weight loss was last night; almost three pounds. Did I have that large of a bowel movement? Hardly. The strange thing to accept when losing weight is how much of that is lost while we sleep through breathing. Yes, you read that right: we literally exhale weight. In my case, a lot of that was water weight from being bloated due to alcohol consumption, but you also release “stuff” in the form of vapor as you sleep. Remember all those posts where I tell you to get enough sleep? There’s a reason for that. Oh, and while I’m talking about sleep, I’m averaging 8+ hours a night right now. That definitely helps with weight loss (and having a load of energy every morning at work).

I jokingly refer to my weight loss as science, but it’s true: I can accurately predict my weight loss based on what I eat and how much of it I eat. I can accurately predict the trends based on my actions, and that is why I get so hard on myself sometimes when I do things contrary to what I know will allow me to lose weight. It’s why I abhor sabotage (what some people call cheat meals). The dangerous side of knowing how easy it is to lose weight is that I sometimes have allowed myself to do things contrary to my best interest because I justify it by saying, “Eh, just a few pounds. That’s easy enough to lose.” Sure it is, but it’s a slippery slope, and the next thing you know, you’ve got to lose 20 lbs.

Now comes the rest of the work: two months should get me back to my comfort zone. I can’t wait to be there again.

Too Good of a Time

This past weekend, my wife Sherry and I spent some time in San Francisco and the Napa Valley. I flew out on Thursday evening, and we returned home Monday evening. In the four days we were there, we had a great time. We ate a lot of delicious food, drank a lot of delicious drinks, and gained a lot of stupid weight.

I knew going into the weekend that this would happen, and I accepted the consequences. I knew, almost to the pound, exactly what the toll would be. How? Because I’ve done this before. I also know how quickly I can make that weight disappear, which is why I accepted the consequences. Within two weeks, I can erase the effects of the past four days through good eating and moderate exercise. The hitch this time is that my right knee is still giving me problems, and I’m having a very hard time getting any exercise in.

After work tonight, I will try to ride the stationary cycle we own. The treadmill is still out of the question. I woke up with pain in my knee last night (meaning that the pain in my knee was enough to wake me), so I’m still being very tender with it. However, being in the National Guard, I can’t let my physical readiness slip too much. I have to do something.

Last night, Sherry and I prepared our lunches for the week. She cooked two of my new favorites: Picadillo and Cashew Chicken. Well, I helped with peeling/slicing some ingredients and I did the dishes while she cooked. It may not seem like much, but she seems to like the help and I gladly give it. Sherry also made the chia pudding I love so much. This time, she made it with 100% coconut milk instead of the 50/50% mix of almond milk and coconut milk she made it with the first time and 100% almond milk she made it with last time. The 50/50% mix was good, while the 100% almond milk was runnier (but still delicious). I’m looking forward to trying the 100% coconut milk version. It has a much thicker consistency; more like a chocolate mousse.

What was the damage from four days of off-the-rails eating? 9 lbs. I have 9 lbs to lose on top of the weight I was already wanting to lose. That puts me back to about two years ago in terms of where I was with my weight, but I have been doing a good job of keeping the weight off, and now, I’m going to make sure I get back down to 165 lbs and stay there. Fortunately, we don’t have any holidays or trips scheduled for the next three or four months, so I should be able to reach my goal by my birthday.

Solved: Not Enough Poop

I know. This is a TMI blog post, for sure. It’s a taboo subject at most social gatherings (especially since most social gatherings are round meal time or food), but it’s something that I feel I need to talk about. I’m going to make the assumption that you’re not eating as you’re reading this. If you are, you may want to stop. Or not. It’s your call. But I’m going to continue to talk about poop.

One of the first things I noticed when I cut out foods with added sugar and grains is that I stopped pooping as much. Also, my poop became much denser, and much more difficult to move. I was told that this passes for some people, but I wasn’t one of those. For the past nearly four years, I’ve been dealing with finding ways to get more fiber into my diet. I’ve tried to avoid most commercial stool softeners because so many rely on grains, and I’ve also tried a few other methods with mediocre success, but nothing ever got me back to the daily moves. I missed those daily moves.

Then, I wrote that blog entry about the sources of fiber. I was shocked and surprised to discover that chocolate ranked so high on the list (no, I didn’t start eating a bunch of chocolate… or did I?), but most importantly, chia was on the list at a whopping 34% fiber by volume. This was HUGE. What happened next is a testament to the love of my amazing wife who is always going out of her way to solve problems for me, even when I don’t ask her to (in the BEST way, not that annoying, “I’m going to fix you against your will” kind of way. Ew.)

She did some research and found that there’s a whole group of puddings made from chia seeds. These recipes are simple, quick, and actually amazingly delicious. Best yet: they offer the fiber that many of us on the Paleo diet miss out on by not eating grains. She made me a chocolate chia pudding, and I have to say, that even if it didn’t offer any other benefit besides it’s tasting amazing, I’d ask for it all the time. But no. Something wonderful happened. Within a few hours of eating it, I had to go! I started eating a 1/2 cup serving after lunch and dinner (I’m still doing IF, so no breakfast), and lo and behold, I am back to pooping once and actually on most days, even twice a day! It’s AMAZING! I don’t feel stopped up anymore, and my gut feels all amazing and I actually feel better!

Sherry made me another batch of it yesterday morning before she went to work (because, as she put it, it’s super-easy to put together) and I’ll be eating some more of it starting tonight when I get home (I forgot to bring a lunch portion with me). The great part is that I know I’ll still be able to poop regularly, and she promised to try some other recipes of the chia puddings to change things up so I don’t get tired of the same chocolate pudding. I don’t think that’s possible, but some of the flavors she described are pretty amazing.

Check out chia puddings if you are having problems moving your poop. It’s helped me immensely!

The Busy Life

This past weekend, I had drill. It was very busy, as not only did I participate in a full physical, I received a number of shots (there are at least five holes in my arm right now) and I stood out in the cold for a few hours waiting in line to get my hearing tested. On top of that, I started a new job last week, and I am now into my second week of learning my new position.

That’s left me with some odd food choices. Last week, I ate mostly pre-prepared food that my wife made for us. With the exception of one day last week, I was able to eat Paleo food. Saturday, however, was a different story. At drill, my Lieutenant wanted to eat sushi for lunch, and who was I to tell her that it’s difficult for me to find food there? I decided “The heck with it,” and just went along with it. For science. No, seriously, I wanted to see how well my body could handle an off-the-rails lunch. It turns out that my body took it all in stride and with the exception of a little bit of sweating at night while I slept (as my body was burning off the excess carbs), I was okay. My weight held steady the next morning. Oh, and yes, the sushi was delicious!

Sunday, I ate wings which is typically a Paleo-ish lunch, and dinner at home. This week, I have some really delicious Paleo foods to eat that my wife made on Sunday while I was at drill, and Thursday evening, I will be traveling to San Francisco for a weekend there with Sherry for Valentine’s Day (weekend). I know I’ll be eating and drinking all kinds of ridiculous things then, and I’ll be beating myself up for it afterwards, but it is what it is. I’m going to enjoy myself, and the time there with my wife.

In terms of exercise, a knee injury is keeping me from running which is troubling. I think I may have done some damage to my knee, and if the pain persists after my weekend trip, I’ll be visiting a doctor to see what’s up. I am buying an knee brace today, and hopefully that helps resolve the tendon/ligament pain I’m experiencing. Wish me luck!

Eating Right at a New Job

I haven’t posted in a few days because I started a new job on Monday. It’s a great opportunity that gets me back into a more technical role in IT, and I am very excited to be starting this new chapter in my career. What it’s also brought, however unintentional, is a new level of stress, not only about the job and my getting “Snapped in,” as we called it in the Marines, but also with the food choices I’ve been presented with.

I started my first week by being in five hour meetings in which lunch is served. I literally went straight from new employee orientation to a meeting without even seeing my office first. At that first lunch, it was catered by Freebird’s which is a burrito place, kind of like Chipotle. It was easy enough for me to find good food, because I just had some beef and chicken fajitas with some grilled onions and peppers with a dollop of guacamole. The second day, however, was impossible: Philly Cheesesteaks. There was no healthy option available. I had to eat half of a Cheesesteak sandwich. Fortunately, it didn’t affect me too much, but it did leave me feeling hungry since I tried to mitigate the negative impacts by eating so little. Fortunately, I had a good dinner at home complete with a chocolate chia pudding!

Wednesday, my new manager took me and our team out for a welcome lunch for me, and we went to a Persian restaurant which had some amazing and delicious healthy food choices. I can’t remember the name of the dish I ate, but it was basically steak cut into cubes and grilled on a skewer with vegetables. I asked for a salad in place of the rice, and they happily complied.

Today, I brought my lunch. I’m in another all-day meeting that is catered, but I found out that the catering is by Firehouse Subs, which I really used to love, but is completely incompatible with my diet. I won’t lie when I say that I’m going to be a little sad that I can’t partake in the subs, but it is made all that much easier when the food I have is incredibly delicious and healthy. I also brought a little bit of that chocolate chia pudding that my wife made as a little dessert.

My unhealthy work lunch mitigation methods are:

  1. Pick and choose the parts that are healthy and leave the parts that are unhealthy.
  2. If you can’t pick a healthy part, eat a very small portion (enough to keep you from feeling hungry until you can get a healthy meal in).
  3. Bring meals from home when you know the catered meal is going to be unhealthy.
  4. This is the option I wish I had on Tuesday: make sure you have RXBars or Epic Bars or Larabars (or something you like) that you can eat in place of a catered meal if you were unable to bring a prepped meal with you.

Between those four options, I can get through just about any situation. Obviously, some are better than others, but the fact remains that you can get through any meal situation with a little planning.