Making it through the holidays

My plan is simple: survive the holidays with as little weight gain as possible. I’m going into the holiday season knowing I’ll be eating and drinking foods I typically avoid, and that’s okay. I suggest you make peace with this and do the same. Why? Because life is short, and friends and family are precious, and the time we spend with them should be joyous. I’m not advocating throwing all caution to the wind, but I am suggesting you enjoy the season with its unique foods and drinks.

Mindset has a lot to do with this. Sure, you can be “Good” through the holidays. I’ve done that before, and yes, it’s possible, but at what cost? Your family and friends will be somewhat distressed by this, and while that is troublesome in and of itself on some levels, ultimately, is it worth the strange looks and uncomfortable conversations to avoid a cookie and some gluhwein? Also, if you enjoy yourself, you’re making indelible and lasting memories full of joy, happiness, and love. That is worth it right there.

Sure, if you’re like me, you’ll feel a little grumpy about not losing any weight, or worse, gaining some weight. Make peace with it beforehand. Know that it’s coming. When you expect it, it’s not as bad when it comes to fruition. You know what it takes to get back on track, how to lose weight, and you know how to be disciplined. You have a plan that you can put into place once the holidays are over. Get over it, and enjoy yourself!

My plan is to do another Whole30 starting January 2nd. I know it’s coming; I need it. While my weight isn’t out of control, it’s higher than I would like it to be. I know I can lose it all within a month, but right now is not the time to do it. Instead, I’m going to enjoy the holidays with some simple coping mechanisms I’ve written about in the past. To summarize those, I will:

  • Limit the amount of alcohol I consume
  • Limit the amount of non-Paleo foods I consume
  • Try to make healthy choices where possible
  • Continue Intermittent Fasting (IF) through the holidays

This will mitigate the impact the holiday food and drinks will have on me, my health, and my weight. It’s worked in the past, and I am certain it’ll work for me again.

I actually look forward to the Whole30 in January. I look forward to getting back down to a more comfortable weight for me, even if it is mostly a psychological issue for me. It’s just a number: I’m not overweight or fat by any stretch of the imagination, but some of my favorite clothes don’t fit just right anymore. I know that losing 10 lbs will fix that, and will also make me feel better.

Enjoy the holidays. Enjoy being with family and friends. Live your life, and make the best decisions you can without guilt. Pledge to get back to it after the holidays. I am.

Jingle Bells 5k Run (Complete!)

On Saturday, Sherry and I took part in the Jingle Bells 5k to raise money for Arthritis research, and boy was it a crummy morning: 46 degrees and raining. I was already not looking forward to it because I hadn’t had the time to prepare as much as I wanted to. Between my foot injury that kept me from running for a few weeks to the chest/head cold I had last week, I felt unprepared for this run. Regardless, I knew I could do it fairly well, so I did it anyway.

The weather was miserable, to say the least. It wasn’t the coldest; the previous two years were far colder. But this time, to add to the misery, it rained. Not a downpour, mind you, but a steady rain throughout the entire run. I felt pretty good for the entire run, however, and while my time was only my second best out of the three times I’ve run this event, I had a surprise: I came in third for my age group. I didn’t realize I’d done so well and went straight to my car. I didn’t think I did well enough to check the results, so I missed out on getting an actual third place medal and standing up on stage to receive my medal. Oh well. Sherry contacted the race organizers to find out if I can get that medal somehow.

So, I’m pretty happy with the run. Sure, it was slower. Yes, it was miserable. But I did it, regardless of how much I complained to my wife about it, and I got it done.

Where Motivation Lives

People attribute my success in changing my life and becoming healthy to my ability to motivate myself. They posit that this has to be a military thing, something I learned in the Marines. While it’s true that I grew up in the Corps, in many ways, the fact of the matter is that for over 20 years, I didn’t use any of that motivation to be healthy. In fact, I did pretty much everything in my life on whims based on which direction the winds of my life was blowing.

I have written in the past about finding motivation, but I think people inferred that somehow, you will find the motivation in external sources. This is very wrong. Motivation comes from one place alone: inside. Sure, there are things that can bolster or support your motivation, but ultimately, it’s something you have to dig deep down inside for, find, and nurture. Like anything else, you have to use it to grow it.

Can a scary diagnosis or admonitions from your doctor or health care professional scare you into eating better? Sure. But ultimately, it’s your own motivation that drives you. Can something like being unable to tie your own shoes push you to make better decisions with your health? Yes, but again, it’s your own motivation that makes this happen.

We all have motivation. It’s that drive behind what we do. Some people don’t recognize their motivation, or worse, they dismiss their having any. These are the people who think they can’t live without certain foods (Spoiler: yes you can!). These very same people have no problem getting up on time, getting to work on time, paying their bills, getting their kids to school on time, making swim practice on time five days a week, getting the desserts together for that pot luck at work, and many other things. These all take motivation, yet people dismiss it because these are all things that “Need to be done.” Well guess what: eating right, being healthy, and losing weight all need to be done, too. Heck, I’ll be bold enough to say that focusing on your health, weight, and fitness should be everyone’s primary concern. Staying healthy, within our control, should be something we all strive to do. It’s what allows us to be mobile, to work, to play, and to live longer to love longer.

Motivation is within you. It’s within me. It’s within all of us. You have to harness that power and use it. Think of all the things you get done on a daily basis. Think of those things you hate doing, but you do them anyway. Make a list. Seriously; take out a pen/pencil and a piece of paper (or for you tech-savvy people, grab your phone and make a list in the Notes app) of all the things you do that you don’t like but you get done anyway because you have to. Look at that list. Do you see how long it is? That’s your motivation getting you through!!! You can use that very same superpower and eat right. You can avoid the high-sugar foods. You can avoid the grains and the carbs. You can make progress and get healthy again.

But, as always, it’s up to you. Without you making the effort, nobody can get it done for you. This rests solely on your shoulders. Good thing you have that motivation to rely on!

Like a Broken Record

I’m going to say this again: it’s never okay to accept poor health caused by being overweight. YOU are in control of what goes into your mouth. YOU are the person who has the final say in what you eat. YOU can be stronger than whatever appetite or craving you experience.

I’m really tired of hearing, “I just can’t stop eating bread,” or “I could never stop eating rice and beans.” Yes you could! You can do ANYTHING you set your mind to! I see people day after day eating food that is making them unhealthy and they continue to gain weight. These same people say to me, “You’re so lucky you have the strength to not eat donuts and bad foods,” and when I tell them that they have the very same power, they disagree. Yet somehow, they get to work on time day after day. They pay their bills. They take their kids to activities, day after day, and on-time. They do all these other things that require discipline, yet they can’t control what they eat? That’s a load of you-know-what.

It’s a cop out, is what it is. It’s easier to say you are powerless than to admit the truth: that you’re too lazy to even try. You’ve failed before, and instead of trying again, you surrendered and decided to just let your health be what it is, regardless of how bad it gets. 

I get it. I’ve been there. I surrendered for a long time until I got so fat I couldn’t even tie my own shoes without holding my breath. My health was failing, and my family and friends were afraid for me. I made the choice to change my life. I did a lot of reading, and I asked a lot of questions from people who knew nutrition and health. I made the decision to change my lifestyle, not for the short-term, but forever. I wanted to get healthy and to stay healthy. It’s a never-ending process. I can’t say I’ve reached my goal, because my goal is to stay as healthy as I can and at a healthy weight until I die.

Stop saying it’s too hard. Stop saying you can’t do this. Stop thinking you can’t stop eating foods that are hurting you. Like any relationship, your relationship with food is in your hands. Break up with sugar and start eating better today. I don’t care what method you use; pick a healthy one, adopt it, and live by it. No, you won’t be perfect, but if you strive to improve for the long-haul and adopt a healthy lifestyle, you will find yourself much happier, much healthier, and with some luck and discipline, much lighter. But stop saying you can’t do this. It’s like a broken record.

Never Stop Trying

There are times when, regardless of how hard we try, we just can’t seem to get a good, solid start to eating right. Sometimes, even those of us who have had great success with being very strict and motivated have a tough time getting back up on that horse. It’s not something to be ashamed of; we’re all human. Heck, over the past few weeks, I’ve not been nearly as diligent as I’d like to be in eating right. The result: my weight is up. But I won’t let it get me down, and I’m not going to stop trying.

I ate right yesterday, and not just for a meal or two; I ate right all day. I didn’t drink any alcohol, either, which has been a big part of my diet lately due to the holidays and gatherings. I also ran, which is something else I need to get back into the habit of doing regularly. I’ve been running 1-2 times a week instead of the 3-4 times that I prefer. I will continue to work on this as best I can through the holidays, and I’ll be doing everything I can to stay motivated.

It’s easy to give up. It’s easy to not even start, but once you’ve made progress and fall off the wagon, it’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security that you can return somewhat to your pre-diet eating habits. Then, you see the scale report back the toll all this bad food is having: increased weight. To be fair, I’m not up that much. But, it’s enough to trouble me, and enough to cause concern. Heck, I have lots of pants that are tighter than I like them to be, and they don’t feel as comfortable anymore. I got rid of all my larger pants, and I refuse to buy new larger pants, so getting back to eating right is my only option.

I know it’s not easy; if it was, we would all do it without effort, and I wouldn’t be writing about my journey in getting healthy and losing weight in an attempt to help others. I’m experiencing the challenges myself, and I’m right there with you. What defines successful people is their ability to get back up, dust themselves off, and get right back up on that horse after a fall. I may fall day after day, but I will never give up getting back up on that horse. I will continue to eat right and to get some exercise. You can do this, too. 

What Are You Waiting For?

I used to put off losing weight and getting healthy because I just loved food so much. I figured I had all the time in the world to get healthy, so why start now? For me, things came to a head when I was trying to tie my shoes one morning, and I found I couldn’t do so without holding my breath; my stomach was so large, it physically impeded me from tying my own shoes comfortably. What didn’t get me to start losing weight on their own merits were the following:

  • Diabetes. I was on Metformin for two years, but that wasn’t enough for me to begin adopting a healthy lifestyle.
  • Obesity. I weighed over 312 lbs, yet this was’t reason enough either.
  • Fatty Liver Disease. I figured this was irreversible.
  • Unable to climb a single flight of stairs without being winded. 
  • Failing eye sight (due to Diabetes).
  • Numbness and tingling in lower extremities (due to circulation issues)
  • XXXL clothing. It was getting hard to find clothing to fit me outside of t-shirts and jeans or sweat pants.

Now, to be fair, after I realized that tying my own shoes had become a major issue, it was more like the straw that broke the camel’s back. Once I realized that something had to change, all those aforementioned bullet points hit me at once. I realized my life had to change.

So, what is keeping you from adopting a healthier lifestyle? What are you waiting for? What reasons do  you have that are compelling enough to keep you from living your best life?

Busy Drill Weekend

My wife and I with “Lady Luck,” an M119A3 105mm Howitzer.

This weekend was very busy as it not only involved a lot of training for my Soldiers, but it was also the weekend when we hold our annual St. Barbara’s Ball. St. Barbara is the patron saint of the Field Artillery, and we have a ball annually to honor and celebrate members of the Field Artillery, past and present. If you know anything about military balls, then you also know it involves a lot of drinking.

The holiday season is tough enough without drinking, but like I’ve said many times before, certain life events are too important and too memorable to skip. While I could easily have gone to the ball and not drank any alcohol, many of the traditions include toasts and drinking of the “Grog,” which is an alcoholic beverage. I was not going to miss out on tradition, so I partook.

Fortunately,  I didn’t drink too much, and while I did have a headache the next morning, I felt fine within a few hours of waking up. Hydration is a necessity when drinking, and I let myself down in that regard.

Today is Monday, and I’m back on my strict eating plan: strict Paleo, and no alcohol. I have a 5k run coming up on Saturday, and there is a good chance I’ll be attending a military career development course in January, so I need to not only kick up my running and exercise to 3-4 times a week, but I also need to lose some weight. While I’m not very much over my max, I am by a few pounds. I’d rather not have to resort to measuring my body fat.

This holiday season, enjoy your time with your family and friends. I’m not condoning throwing all common sense out the window, but employing some moderation and making smart choices to mitigate the damage goes a long way toward holding your ground when it comes to your health and your weight.