Chili Cook-off

Yesterday at work, our company had a chili cook-off benefiting the United Way. My two teammates and I decided on a Mean Girls (the movie) theme. What does Mean Girls have to do with chili? Nothing! But we decided that since our recipe was so fetch, we just had to build the theme around it!

My co-workers Jenny and Crissy with me in blue.

I spent Thursday afternoon and evening making the chili, and Crissy and Jenny spent days making all the decorations and props. In the end, it turned out great, because while the chili didn’t win, our theme did!

Don’t eat the Kalteen bars. Just don’t.

One thing that I was adamant about was making sure the chili was Paleo, Keto, Whole30 compliant, and gluten-free. And, being that we are in Texas, no beans! What I didn’t expect was how many people reacted positively to being Paleo, Keto and Gluten Free (we didn’t call out Whole30, but that’s due to me forgetting more than anything else).

The point of this post is that even when you’re taking part in pot lucks, or having to bring food in for events, you can find a creative way to make it healthy and delicious. We did that for our chili cook-off, and people really liked our chili!

New study shows the effects of obesity mirror those of aging

I knew it!

I always find it interesting when a medical study confirms something I’ve experienced. When I lost over 150 lbs, I remarked that I felt young again, and that perhaps what I felt when I was heavier wasn’t age, but a lack of good health and fitness. Well, it turns out that there may be more to that than I thought.

This recently published medical study confirms what I had experienced firsthand. Things like DNA damage, increased chances of developing Type-2 Diabetes, cognition issues, and a host of others are all experienced by both the elderly and people suffering from obesity.

At the genetic level, the researchers write that obesity influences a number of alterations associated with aging. These include the shortening of protective caps found on the ends of chromosomes, called telomeres. Telomeres in patients with obesity can be more than 25 per cent shorter than those seen in control patients, for instance.

Obesity and ageing: Two sides of the same coin

I had Type-2 Diabetes, I was always tired and had problems concentrating, and I had fatty liver disease. I had problems with mobility and exercise, and always felt drained.

Please take a look at that article. If you are over 30 and obese, that feeling “Old” may be nothing more than the weight. In my personal experience, losing the weight has made me feel young again, and I feel like I have a new lease on life!

Giving Up

I’ve given up in the past. I’ve reached the point where I just couldn’t continue whatever it was. Whether it was a diet, a run, or a healthy lifestyle, I reached a point where I just couldn’t keep putting in the work and making the sacrifices required to succeed.

Giving up made me feel terrible, and each time I gave up, it made it easier and easier to give up. After a while, I got used to giving up, and each new diet, exercise plan, or lifestyle change lasted shorter and shorter durations. Eventually, I gave up even trying.

I lived for a few years without even considering making any changes. I’d reached a point where I accepted my poor health, my lack of any physical fitness, and the fact that I’d likely die young due to my decisions.

They say that all revolutions require a spark, and for me, that spark was the morning that I couldn’t tie my shoes without having to hold my breath. My stomach was so large that I couldn’t bend over without holding my breath. That was the spark for me. Something had to change.

The problem I had was that I had failed and given up so many times in the past. I knew that my chances for success were slim based on my past performance. But then I happened to hear something that gave me hope: success is built on a ladder of failure, with each rung a different failure. We get closer to success with each failure because we learn what didn’t work.

I began looking into people who were obese and were successful with losing weight. Reddit became a huge part of my success, namely the subreddit known as /r/progresspics. This subreddit of progress pictures of people who were successful at losing weight truly motivated me. Most of the people were much younger than me, but that was okay. The main take-away for me was the fact that all these people were losing incredible amounts of weight, and the vast majority of them were doing it without surgery, procedures, pills, powders, or weird programs. They were doing it through diet and exercise.

As I began researching losing weight, I came across Whole30 and the Paleo Diet, and while they looked interesting, I didn’t really look too much into it any further until, by chance, my cousin Sarah came to visit. She’s a Physician Assistant, and she’s done Whole30’s. She talked to me about my health, and she was concerned that I wouldn’t last long on my current trajectory. I told her I agreed, but I felt helpless without a plan that excluded exercise. I was too heavy and my joints too worn out to exercise at my heavy weight. She told me more about Whole30 and the Paleo Diet, and I began doing my own research in earnest.

Without Sarah’s talk, I’m not sure if I’d have ended up on Whole30 and the Paleo Diet. The more reading I did, the more convinced I was that I could do this. Once I convinced my wife to try it with me, the rest is history, as they say. We both lost an incredible amount of weight our first year: I lost 130 lbs, and Sherry lost 65 lbs (to be fair, I had a lot more weight to lose).

Giving up isn’t the end. It is the beginning to your next attempt at success. It’s another thing you learn that you use to be successful later. I failed many, many times with diets and lifestyle changes. I gave up more times than I can count. But in the end, I persevered, tried again, and used my failures to fuel my success. You can do the same, not just with your diet and exercise, but with anything in life. This is one of those things that applies to literally everything.

So go out there and give it a try. If you fail or give up, that’s okay. Think about what happened, analyze, regroup, and try again! Who knows. A year from now, you might be writing your own blog entry about losing a bunch of weight or getting back in shape!

First 3 Mile Run in a While

It doesn’t tell the whole story…

I set out for my first run on pavement in quite a while. Well, it’s been since August of last year, actually, when I hurt my Achilles’ tendon. Since then, I took a five month break from all running to allow the injury to heal, and then started running on a treadmill in our gym at home. Yesterday, the weather was perfect, and I wanted to go out for a real run, so I set out to run 3 miles regardless of time.

The run started out good; decent pace and not a lot of pain. My ankles still get sore when I run, but I think that’s age more than anything else. The first mile was easy enough, but the second mile was not. It wasn’t hard, but I did have to push myself. The third mile started out okay, but the last half was amazing. My legs felt great, my breathing was easy, and my pace dropped to 8:30/Mile. I almost wanted to keep running once I hit my goal of 3 miles, but I knew that I’d be pushing it and that I’d be courting an injury, so I forced myself to stop. I walked an additional half mile to cool down, and I honestly felt great afterward.

I’ll be doing my weightlifting today after work. This will be my first foray into weights since I hurt my shoulder back in November. Hopefully it goes well.

Weight wise, I’m back in the 180’s. That’s my pre-Las Vegas weight. It took two weeks to recover fully from that, but I’m there now and making more progress.

Do the work, put in the time, and success will come. It doesn’t matter if it’s weightlifting, running, or anything else. Perseverance is key. You have to set a goal for yourself and stick to it. Nothing more; nothing less.

Finally Got Sleep (and Weight Loss Resumed)

It was 39 degrees this morning and that means one thing: sweater weather!

Just as I thought; I finally got a good night’s rest last night, and I dropped weight again. It always seems to go hand-in-hand for me. It’s the one secret ingredient that seems to make the most difference, yet is the one thing that is so often overlooked.

I can’t stress enough just how important sleep is for losing weight. In my own experience, I can do EVERYTHING right and not lose weight if I don’t get enough sleep. I tested this (unknowingly) for a few weeks straight when I did everything right (healthy food, normal portion sizes, regular exercise) and lost nothing. NOTHING. It was infuriating and was demotivating, but I persevered and analyzed everything when I found that the one thing I ignored was the amount of sleep I was getting. When I made the effort to get 7.5+ hours of sleep a night: BOOM! Immediate weight loss. I kept ensuring I slept well each night, and the weight loss continued.

Long story short: get more sleep. If you are in a plateau, there’s a good chance you’re not getting enough sleep. If you are, and you’re still in a plateau, then look at EVERY aspect of your program and find where you’re lacking. The body can be complicated to figure out, and it adjusts to changes well, so more tweaking may be necessary to facilitate more weight loss. But there’s always a successful formula to lost weight and get healthy. You just need to do the work to find yours.

Never Surrender Mindset

My weight is back up after the Las Vegas trip. I knew it would happen, and I was ready to accept the consequences. So, here we are.

I’m eating right, exercising, and the one thing I haven’t been able to do is get a good night’s sleep. It’s not from lack of trying; I’ve gone to bed at 9 pm every night this week except Sunday night (because our flight didn’t arrive until 11:30 pm). I just can’t fall asleep. I don’t know if it’s the pain in my jaw from the bone graft/implant, or something else, but I’ve been unable to fall asleep and then, I wake up super-early.

Sleep is one of the most important factors in weight loss. Without good sleep, weight loss is almost impossible to achieve for me. I took a nap yesterday afternoon because I was exhausted; maybe that’s why I couldn’t fall asleep last night. Hmmm.

Whatever; the real thing I need to hold onto is perseverance. I need to continue to do all the right things. Even though my arms and legs are sore today, I will do my push-ups and my run. Even though it’d be more comfortable to go home and sit down, I’m not going to do that. The only way to get stronger to face obstacles in the future is to face them and defeat them today.

I cannot and will not accept defeat. Heck, I won’t even accept the status quo as it pertains to my weight, health, and fitness. I want to improve, and I want to make progress. I’m going to keep working until I see the results I want, and until I can reach the goals I’ve set for myself.

You own your experience. You’re the driver of your journey. It’s up to you and no one else. I can’t do this for you. Nobody can do this for you. Your success rests upon your shoulders. Make today count, and never surrender!

Las Vegas and a Bone Graft

The view from our hotel room in Las Vegas

This past weekend, my wife Sherry and I went to Las Vegas for a Valentine’s Day weekend. We arrived Friday and immediately set upon having a great time. We ate a very reasonable and tasty lunch, but that all went out the window at dinner. We had a large dinner as a Valentine’s day package, and while it was all healthy (save for the dessert), the volume of food was monumental. Suffice it to say that we didn’t eat it all; that would have been impossible. We did sample the desserts, and they were yummy, but again, we couldn’t eat it all.

I actually won at the Golden Nugget playing Blackjack. I really enjoyed this place, and the people working there were all very nice!

The next day, Saturday, started off with a healthy breakfast in the MGM Signature’s Deli. We both had scrambles that were both delicious and normal in portion size (for us). Afterward, we hit the old Downtown area of Las Vegas and did a walking tour which we greatly enjoyed. We even stopped in at the Pawn Stars TV show’s actual pawn shop location. It was neat to see it in person after seeing it on TV for years. For lunch. we ate at Pizza Rock. I know; pizza is not Paleo, but we ate the cracker thin Chicago crust, and the pizza was delicious! We ended up skipping dinner that day. We also visited the Mob Museum, and that evening, we saw Gwen Stefani! It was a great show, and a great end to the evening!

Gwen Stefani on stage at Show 46 of her residency in Las Vegas.

Sunday morning was to be our trip home, but our flight was delayed once, and then a second time when the gate crew notified us that we should find other flights home. Sherry quickly booked us a flight that would get us home later that night with one catch; we had to fly through San Francisco. Fortunately, that flight left on-time, and when it arrived in San Francisco, we were relieved to find that the departing flight to Houston was in the very next gate! We ate a quick healthy dinner and boarded our flight home. We arrived home at 11:30 p.m., but that was okay. We were home, safe and sound.

Our formerly assigned plane (broken down) as seen from our plane bound for San Francisco.

All in all, it was one of the best weekend trips Sherry and I have taken. We did a lot, saw a lot, laughed a lot, and loved a lot. It’s weekends like this that make all the time in-between working worth it.

Then came Monday: bone graft and implant.

Maria, the dental assistant, numbing me up for a bunch of shots.

Four months ago, I had a severe abscess that required removal of a tooth and some jaw bone material that was infected. I had to wait the past 4 months for bone to grow back into the area enough for my dentist to insert an implant for a future implanted tooth. Since the bone loss in the area due to the infection was pretty great, it was also necessary to do a bone graft.

Dr. Caldwell, Maria, and me (with my mouth open.

The procedure went well, and the doctor said that everything went perfectly. Honestly, it was the least painful experience I’ve ever had with a dentist. Seriously. I was shocked that I felt nothing at all. I was a little nervous this time (unlike during the extraction; I’ve done many of those before), so I asked for nitrous oxide. I’m glad I did; it made me feel intoxicated, and took away my anxiety. The best part is that when I was done, 10 breaths of fresh air later, the intoxication effect was gone and I was able to safely leave the office and drive home.

All in all, I did gain a few pounds back after the weekend, but that was to be expected (and I had planned for it). I rested yesterday and ran in the afternoon and felt good. Today, I will restart my weightlifting regimen and see how it goes. If the shoulder can handle it, I’ll be back to working out 6 days a week which will help with burning calories required for a calorie deficit. I’m also back to eating home-cooked food, and tonight, I plan on making something to hold us over for lunches over the next three days.

18 lbs in 49 Days

I found a sweater vest I received for Christmas that I’d forgotten about. Thankfully, it’s cold enough for me to wear comfortably.

Sherry and I started our last Whole30 on January 5th, a day ahead of schedule, because we’d had enough. We had been eating horribly for a month in December, and our bodies were reeling from it. Bloated, overweight, and sluggish, we couldn’t endure another day of eating poorly. Sure, the food was delicious, but we’d gotten to the point where the novelty of eating “Anything” had worn off, and honestly, the flavors weren’t worth the horrible feeling we were experiencing. We’d gotten used to our bodies feeling “Good.”

The Whole30 itself was a success. I had reset my portions, kicked the new addiction to sugar, and I lost 12 lbs. The initial weight loss of 10 lbs happened in the first week. The next 2 lbs came the following week. And then? Nothing. Plateau.

I finished the Whole30 happy with my success. Even though I was in a plateau, I was happy. Everything was looking up. I knew I just had to keep doing the right things, and the scale and the way I felt in my clothes (NSV) would reward me. Sure enough, two weeks after the end of this last Whole30, I’ve lost 6 more lbs bringing 2020’s total to 18 lbs.

Yes, my clothes all feel much better now; back to normal. My mind has regained its clarity. My runs are getting easier, not only because I run every other day, but because it’s easier to run when you’re lighter. Best of all, I feel so much better overall. It’s just a great feeling to not be bloated, sluggish, and feeling as if in a mental fog.

This journey is one that requires perseverance and patience. In the beginning of our Whole30, I was lamenting the fact that it was taking forever, and Sherry threw my words back at me: “Didn’t you just write something about patience?” She asked. “Well, yeah, but…” She just raised an eyebrow at me. She was right. I needed to heed my own words.

And I did. In the evenings, after my runs, I have a habit of talking to myself in the mirror as I wait for the water to reach a comfortable temperature for me (which Sherry says is cold. Not everyone likes to shower in water fit for a lobster, Sherry!). No, I don’t answer, but I motivate myself. I tell myself things we need to do to continue to make progress, or sometimes I just congratulate myself for a good workout. Most days in the past two months, it’s been, “Keep doing the right things. You’ll get the results you’re looking for.” It feels good when it finally starts to happen, day after day.

I think back to my first weight loss adventure four years ago when I was losing, on average, 10 lbs per month. I remember how great it felt week after week seeing the numbers go down, and even being confused once when it dropped so much I thought I’d remembered my previous weight incorrectly (I didn’t). That’s how it feels now being in the mid-180’s.

Moral of this long post: stick with the plan. Even if you’re not seeing the results you want, keep doing the work. Continue to analyze what you’re doing, and make small adjustments if you think that an improvement can be made. Also, be realistic. Science is your friend. Sometimes, it’s possible you’re getting too LITTLE to eat, or that you just need an extra half hour to sleep. Maybe the portions are a little too big, or that extra handful of nuts in the afternoon should be reduced or eliminated. Some little things can make a big difference.


Feeling good this morning, even if I look like I’m not smiling in this picture. I am. It’s just a slight NCO smile.

It struck me today as I stepped on the scale and found that I’d lost 3 lbs; weight loss is like an avalanche. Very rarely in my experience does weight drop steadily. Sure, if you look at a trend over weeks and months, the weight will come off pretty steadily if you do the work and follow the plan, but day-to-day, weight typically bounces up and down a bit with an overall downward trend, but rarely will you see actual drops. But when you do, they are pretty big.

This morning was one of those “Pretty big” drops. 3 lbs.

Why does this happen? I’ve read that it’s because it takes 30-45 days for your body to flush fat cells that are no longer being used. This is why you can’t “Burn” fat cells. They don’t go away. They deflate like a balloon. The human body is very smart, and it doesn’t immediately get rid of fat cells once you’ve depleted their stored energy. The body figures you’re going to fill those cells back up, so it holds on to them for a while until you’ve proven that they will no longer be needed. Then, and only then, does the body flush them.

I remember seeing this when I was on my first-year 110 lbs weight loss journey. I would drop a lot, then plateau for a few days, then drop a lot, etc. The cycle continued for a solid year. It was annoying and exhilarating at the same time. I hated the plateaus, but each time the weight dropped, it was exciting and motivating.

That’s how I feel this morning: motivated. Finally, I saw the first big jump on the scale. Then it hit me; losing weight is like an avalanche. The weight sticks around until it’s no longer sustainable at the current caloric intake levels coupled with activity, and then, the body has to flush the excess cells it’s no longer using or has use for. Then… WHOOSH! Weight loss.

It’s an amazing feeling. My pants also feel a lot looser this morning, and I generally feel better. I know that the psychological effect is playing a big role in that this morning, but that’s okay. This is what it’s all about. These are the non-scale victories (NSV’s) I enjoy the most: the ones that make me feel good. The ones that put me into a good mood.

Just a few more months, and I’ll be right back where I want to be. Just a few more months of hard work in the gym, and I’ll be back to where I was before my multiple injuries. I just need to stay smart, take it slow and steady, and not overdo it. My shoulder still has pain from time to time, and I’m waiting it out like I did with my heel.

In the meantime, I’m going to do a happy dance for the weight loss. I’m back in the 180’s again. Finally.

Back from Training

The start of an early day at drill.

I’m back!

I had a week-long drill with my National Guard unit last week which always puts a damper on my writing for this blog. As you would guess, we’re busy from sun-up until past sundown, with not much time in between activities to write blog entries. In the past, I would pre-write blog posts, but this time, I did’t think I’d need to. Lesson learned.

I ended my Whole30 during this drill, and while I wasn’t able to weigh myself on that last day, I did weigh myself when I got home. Total weight lost: 12 lbs. Not the 15 lbs I’d hope for, but I’ll take it. I do feel a lot better, and I wake up more energized. I have lost a bit in the waist; not as much as I need or wanted, but it’s a step. Glaciers don’t melt in a day. I have 20 lbs more to go, and I know it’s going to take a lot of time and effort.

I ran HIIT for the first time since hurting my Achilles heel back in August. It went far better than expected, and I’ll be introducing HIIT into my weekly routine starting this week. I will also start concentrating more on abs on my non-running days starting this week. My unit introduced me to a bunch of exercises that I’ll be able to do without using my hurt shoulder, which is great!

As for eating, I continued to eat well using nut bars for breakfast. My unit is very accommodating when it comes to my Paleo Diet, and I am proud to say that they ensured every lunch they provided me was Paleo-friendly and actually strictly adhered to the diet. My dinners were also Paleo compliant, as I had control over those. This allowed me to feel good throughout the week. Sleep was something I was careful with as well, and I was able to get 7.5 hours minimum each night.

I have to say that this last drill was my most Paleo-friendly drill ever. It helps when the people around you are doing everything they can to help you succeed. That pours over professionally; I feel like my unit cares, so I put 110% effort into everything I do for them in return.