My Strategy for a Week Without Sherry

Sherry and I on a sunset cruise on Lake Travis, TX

My wife will be going out on a business trip all next week, leaving me to make sure I feed myself good, quality Whole30-compliant foods. That’s no small task, and so far, my wife has been my secret weapon when it comes to my success with getting healthy and losing weight. I guess now it’s time for me to test myself: can I do it alone?

I will be smoking a brisket on Saturday and packaging it up to eat for lunches and dinners this coming week. I will also make some sweet potatoes to put into the containers for lunches. I will probably make some kind of egg casserole or something like that to package up for lunches as well as have some kind of meat around for a dinner or two during the week. I’ll likely have some Buffalo Wings on Wednesday night with some of my friends from the National Guard, but I’ll skip the ranch dressing and I’ll have the wings dry with a garlic powder on it. I’ll also limit myself to 5 and a small side of the sweet potatoes.

I think I will be alright. I am certain I won’t “Cheat” or sabotage myself, so that’s not the issue or concern. My main challenge will be to make sure I don’t get palate fatigue by eating too much brisket. Well, after I wrote that, I realized how silly that is: I can never get tired of good brisket. That’s like saying I might get tired of bacon. That can never happen.

Time for some facts

My weight on Monday morning: 193.7 lbs. My weight this morning: 188.2 lbs. My goal for this Whole30: 175 lbs. (I know, I KNOW! You’re not supposed to weigh yourself on a Whole30. Well, I break that rule because I log my process, and I monitor closely how different foods affect my body. Yes, even Whole30 compliant foods affect my body differently, and I like to know the cause/effect of those different foods).

I was doing IF (Intermittent Fasting) prior to this Whole30. I am not doing that now and have resumed eating my two eggs and two slices of bacon breakfast that I ate for three years. Why? Because this formula worked for me in the past three Whole30’s, and I’m not going to mess with a recipe that has been successful three times in a row.

How is it possible that I lost 5 lbs in three days? Well, the majority of that weight was bloating due to the increased carb and alcohol intake this past weekend. I’d guess about 3-4 lbs of it was just water weight. I am expecting another 5 lbs by the end of the month, but realistically, I should be able to see 2.5 lbs a week on average over the next four weeks (as I did the last three times we did this).

Challenges coming up for me: my wife will be out of town next week on a business trip. That will leave me to fend for myself. She’s been the foundation upon which my Whole30’s rested (and the reason I was successful). Now I will have to try to figure out the food part myself. I’m up for the challenge, and I have some ideas. More on this later.

Annual Training (AT) in the National Guard. I have a two-week AT coming up in June. The last two weeks of my Whole30, in fact, will be during AT. AT is a stressful time and five days of that will be in the field at Fort Hood. I’ll have to carry all my food with me (Epic bars, RXBars, and nuts) and I’ll have to make sure I drink a lot of water and stick to just my own food. I’ve done this before in 2017. I even lost a little weight in the field. I’m hoping for a repeat of that success this year.

I’m still feeling a bit of the flu-like symptoms this morning, but nothing like yesterday. Yesterday was brutal. Sherry and I are expecting more of the symptoms this weekend, so we will try to do things to keep busy and to keep our minds off of the discomfort and any hunger. I remember the hunger part took a week or so to subside last time. At least I know it’s normal and I know what to expect next.

Whole30’s aren’t easy. Many people don’t succeed their first, second, or even their third times around. Sherry and I were fortunate in that we had each other to lean on, and that we made it through them before. I have new challenges this time, but I think now that I’m a veteran of three prior Whole30’s, I can do this. I must do this.

Oh, and running? I haven’t run since last week. The trip to Austin coupled with a bunch of things to do after work Tuesday kept me from getting out there and stretching my legs. I will do that this afternoon after work. If I can’t run outside, I’ll run on our treadmill. One way or the other, it’s going to get done.

Oh, that Whole30 Flu!

Sherry and I zip lining at Lake Travis, TX.

Today is the second full day of our Whole30, and even though it’s our fourth time around, I forgot about the flu-like symptoms. I didn’t experience them yesterday, although I was a little hungry after each meal. Today, however, I have the full-on headache. I feel a bit under the weather. My body is rebelling. These are all signs to me that I allowed too much sugar back into my diet. Then again, I also went a little carb-crazy this past weekend, so I’m sure that didn’t help this transition.

Otherwise, I feel good. Sure, I have a headache and I feel a bit groggy, but I also know what this feeling leads to: a much better me. I know that this will pass within the next 1-3 days, and by next Monday, I’ll be feeling awesome and back to reaping the benefits of eating fully healthy for over a week.

This is the worst part; the beginning. After the first week is over, I’ll feel much better, and I know that I’ll be making the progress I’m looking for. I just need to make sure I keep getting enough sleep.

Whole30 Round 4

It’s time again. I recognize that I need to do something drastic again to reset my appetite, my habits, and to get myself back down 10-15 lbs. I’ve tried just eating right, but I’ve not done a good enough job. I’ve let some bad habits creep back in. Whenever that happens, I turn to Whole30 to reset me.

Today, is day one of my fourth round of Whole30. I’ve done this before. Three times, in fact. It’s never easy, yet I don’t find it difficult. I know what to expect, and I know how to do it. Now, I just need to make sure I stick with it, get enough sleep, and get exercise. That’s a winning combination that equals weight loss and feeling better every time.

I’m excited for this today. I’m excited for where this will take me. I’m excited to be doing a virtual CTL-ALT-DEL on my eating habits.

I’m No Expert

I’m not an expert at losing weight. I’m a guy who lost 130 lbs through Whole30 and Paleo. I lost an additional 20 lbs through exercise and Paleo. That means I unlocked the keys to understanding how my body reacts and responds to different foods, and what it takes for me to lose weight.

I’m not a fitness expert. I’m a 51 year old man, former active duty Marine, and current National Guard Soldier who exercises 3x a week to stay in shape (and yeah, I should do it more often than that!).

I’m not a health guru. I’m a guy who eats healthy because I want to give my body a chance to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

I don’t write this blog as any authority figure. I write it to motivate those who are either still looking for the right combination of factors to get healthy, lose weight, and/or get fit, or for those who are already there but like to read about others who, like them, fight the good fight to stay healthy, to stay lean, and to stay fit.

Beware of anyone who says they have the one true plan that works for everyone. CICO didn’t work for me. South Beach didn’t work for me. A shit ton of exercise coupled with bad eating habits didn’t work for me. Whole30, Paleo, and exercise did. Find what works for you, and do it to the best of your ability.

If I am the expert of anything, it’s perseverance. I kept trying until I found what worked. I’m lucky I never gave up after all the failures. If you’re still trying to find your path, keep looking. You will find it. Sometimes, it’s buried behind bushes or under a waterfall.

Quick Results

Yesterday, I wrote about how I’ve not been doing the right things to lose the weight I’m wanting to lose. Well, I ate perfectly all day yesterday and got a good run in yesterday afternoon. I went into the pool afterwards as well to let the cool water ice my legs down a bit, and I’m finding that it helps a lot (thanks to my cousin Sarah for suggesting icing my legs down!). I got to sleep before 11 pm (which is my goal), and I awoke this morning feeling energized and wide-awake. My weight was down over 3.5 lbs from yesterday!

How is that even possible? Well, there’s a lot going on, but I think it’s the perfect storm of a bunch of factors that all come into play:

  • Eat right
  • Exercise
  • Lots of rest

This isn’t anything new. This is what you hear, see, and read about all the time. Eat right and exercise. The only thing I’ve added to that list is get lots of rest. It’s far more important than people give it credit for. I can’t stress enough that when I eat right and exercise yet don’t get enough sleep, my weight stalls. Every. Single. Time. However, when I get enough sleep, the weight comes off me with relative ease (as long as I’m still doing the “Eat right and get exercise” part).

I’m going to squeeze one last thing into this post: water. I don’t carry water with me when I run unless it’s over 100 degrees fahrenheit. I don’t prescribe to the school of thought that you must be ultra-hydrated at all times. To the contrary, I believe that I should get my body adapted to being slightly dehydrated due to my military service and the fact that I may be required to exert a lot of physical activity without the presence of a lot of water. I’ve been doing this for years and I have gotten quite adapted to it without any ill effects.

So, the point of this post is eat right, exercise, and get your rest. It works. You just have to do it right; cutting corners or taking shortcuts won’t do you any favors.

Where I am Today

I started my journey with health in 2015 at between 312 and 320 lbs. I don’t know exactly how high it was because I was too afraid to look. On August 31, 2015, I weighed myself at 312 lbs. My wife and I began our first Whole30, and within a month, I had lost over 20 lbs. 11 months later and adhering to a strict Paleo diet and without exercise, an additional 110 lbs was shed. Adding exercise, I lost an additional 20 lbs.

Today, I weigh around 184 lbs. The lowest I ever got to was 160 lbs, and I was able to stay in the mid 170’s for a long time until I went to Scotland last year. Since returning, my weight has been in the 180’s. This is due mostly to a lack of steady exercise, a lack of solid sleep, and some bad eating habits.

Three years and eight months after my wife and I took our first steps toward being healthier, I’m still down 130 lbs. I’m actively recommitted to dropping at least 10 lbs, with 20 lbs being the ultimate goal. With that said, I’m much healthier now than I was, and even if I were to remain at my current weight for the rest of my life, I’d be happy with it. I can wear normal clothes, I’m active and fit, and I feel great.

Was it easy? Well, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but no, it wasn’t easy. I had to use a lot of discipline and motivation, but I had learned about delayed gratification and working towards a goal. I set my mind toward success and never let anything get in the way between me and my goals.

Today, I’m a little heavier than I’d like, but I’m working on it. I allow myself too many opportunities to eat foods that aren’t Paleo and to imbibe alcohol on occasions where I should just say no. Part of the problem is that I know how relatively easy it really is to lose weight. It’s not nearly as hard as I thought it would be, so that allows me to be a little lax. I need to cut that out.

But, with all that said, I’m proof that you can lose a lot of weight and keep it off. I’m actually below my one year loss weight, which I will take as a great success. Sure, I’m not at my lightest, but I’m also okay with that. As long as I can get to within 10-15 lbs of that, I’ll be happy.

Sometimes up, sometimes down

That’s my weight. I’m running. I’m eating well. The only thing I’m not doing again is getting enough sleep. I plan to change that starting tonight.

When things aren’t going the way I expect, I have to take a step back and analyze what’s keeping me from seeing the results I want to see. In this case, it’s not losing weight despite doing what I thought was everything right.

Nope. I need more sleep.

If you’re not seeing the results you want to see, you must take a very critical look at all the inputs. Sure, sometimes we don’t want to face the truth, but truth is the only thing that will allow you to get to the root of the issue and get back on track.

Getting Into the Winning Mindset

I’ve said it time and time again: losing weight and getting healthy is 90% diet and 10% exercise, but to get to the point where you can even begin to seriously work on diet, you have to get 100% committed to the work required. Food prep, discipline, and avoiding temptation. Perseverance is the name of the game, and until you can commit fully to the change required, you will spend a lot of time spinning your wheels, so to speak.

I have been stuck in a plateau for a very long time. The reasons are many but all boil down to one simple fact: I have not been fully committed. I’ve been sort-of, kind-of working on maintaining my weight below 190 lbs, and I’ve been successful at it. My weight has gone between 180 and 189 lbs over the past year, with it mostly sticking closer to 186 lbs. Why? There are a few reasons for this.

First, my body has reached an equilibrium with the amount of food I eat compared with the amount of physical exertion I’ve been expending. I sit a lot, and I haven’t been running 3x a week as I’d like to, so I’ve been stuck in the 180’s.

Second, I haven’t really committed to eating ONLY healthy foods. I eat ranch dressing with my wings, my portion sizes are a little on the big side, and I have allowed myself to imbibe alcohol on more occasions than I used to.

That has all changed. I’m back in the game. Fully. My mind is set on getting back into the low 170’s, or even into the 160’s again. I want to get my run times back down below 8 minutes/mile.

Without a mindset that is willing to sacrifice comfort, you can never get into making change. Change is uncomfortable, but the payoff is better health and lower weight. Keeping the benefits of that change involve sticking with the plan, even when it’s hard. Even when it hurts.

I’m fully committed to getting back down to where I was in weight and run times. I will not quit until I’m back there.

The Responsibility of Good Health

Sherry and I on a hike this weekend. The weather was beautiful, and we had a wonderful time together.

Let’s be honest. There are things about living a healthy lifestyle that, when you are accustomed to a life without rules, really stink. For me, some of those things include not having pasta, pizza, or hot dogs anymore. But when I thought about it (and I did think about this a lot), what I finally realized was that I had to say goodbye to being careless. I had to begin thinking about my health as an adult: being responsible, having a plan, and thinking for the long-term.

As a husband, a father, a Staff Sergeant, and hopefully one day as a grandfather, I have to consider other people before myself. I have to ensure that I am able to continue in my assigned or appointed role as long as possible. Not because I think I’m special, but because people need me or rely upon me for emotional or other support. I have a responsibility to keep myself around as long as possible, and in a way that doesn’t place a burden upon them. Being healthy is my duty.

Before I decided to be healthy, I could do what I wanted (especially if that meant not doing anything physical or active). I could eat what I wanted without a care. It was actually quite nice to be in that much control of things (even while my health was careening out of control, I felt like I was in complete control. Oh, the irony!). What I didn’t realize was I was trading my health for an artificial sense of freedom. While it’s nice to be able to do what you want, when you want, the reality is that the consequences were still there; I was just ignoring them. Once I became aware of the consequences of my carefree life, it became readily apparent to me that I needed to change my ways. And fast.

Fast forward three and a half years: I’m physically fit, I weigh 130 lbs less than I did when I began, and working to drop another 20 lbs to get back to my lowest weight a year ago. I let myself get lazy; I know how to lose weight, and I have unlocked the secret to doing so without a lot of pain and suffering, so I have let myself get lax. That ended this morning. While this weekend was a lot of fun and I spent it with all of my favorite people, the toll was heavy on my body. I’m back to my 2016 mindset: if it’s not 100% healthy, it’s not going in my mouth.

Some people see living healthy as being restrictive and most people don’t like living without the ability to do what they want, when they want. They see it as a negative, and regardless of the benefits, concentrate or focus on the bad parts (having to avoid sweets, alcohol, grains, etc). I see it as ensuring that I’m responsible for my health, ensuring that I have the best chance possible at living longer, and having a quality of life that makes it worth living. Most of all, I am taking responsibility for being around as long as I can for my wife, my kids, my friends, and my community. I have a lot to give, and I feel that being selfish and eating with abandon is disrespectful not only to them, but to my own health.

It’s not always easy, and sometimes I miss out on foods and drinks that may be amazing. I have to accept that as the cost for ensuring my health is as good as I can make it, and while I have to keep reminding myself of that, in the end, I think it will be worth it. I can’t change what genetics holds for my future, but I can make sure I don’t negatively impact my health through bad decisions and a lack of responsibility. That’s the best I can hope for.