Celebrate the Changes

My most recent selfie. I should have taken the pen out of my pocket.

It’s easy to forget how far we’ve come, or how much progress we’ve made unless we remind ourselves. This is important, not for vanity’s sake, but for motivation. It’s hard to work at something that has no real end state when you don’t have feedback on your progress. This is especially true for me, as I’m not working toward a target weight, a target strength goal, or a target run time. I am working toward the never-ending and always-moving target of staying fit, staying healthy, and keeping old age at bay.

What I’ve found does help me, however, is to take any small victory I can and celebrate it. This morning as I got ready for work, I walked into the closed to pick out a shirt to wear for the day as I do every day I go into the office. This time, my eye was drawn to a shirt I always liked to wear, but have been unable to due to weight gain/swelling after my surgery. I tried to put this shirt on about a month ago and could barely get it buttoned over my midsection. It made me sad, and honestly, left me kind of depressed for a few weeks afterward. I was terrified that this new body shape might become a new normal.

Well, after seeing the changes in how my trousers fit, I decided to give the shirt a try. I pulled it off the rack and took the shirt off the hanger. As I put my arm into the sleeve, I braced myself for disappointment. I watched carefully in the mirror as I buttoned each button, and to my surprise and pleasure, I was able to not only get the shirt buttoned all the way, but it fit properly. Not too loose, not too tight; just as it used to fit prior to my surgery. There was one change, however, but this is one that I will happily accept: my arms fill out the upper sleeves a bit more. If I flex, my arm fills the shirt completely and actually stretches it.

So, I’m gaining access to much more of my wardrobe. Fortunately, I like the clothes in my closet, so I will actually wear them all again. It’s amazing how much better I feel about myself, my health, my fitness progress, and life in general. I shouldn’t be so concerned with my body shape, but honestly, as someone in the military whose career partly depends on my physical fitness and adherence to height/weight regulations, it is always in the back of my mind.

I had an outstanding lifting session and run yesterday, and afterward, Sherry and I went out to eat some Indian food and I ate a spicy Vindaloo that was phenomenal. This morning, I tried a new Paleo-friendly cereal with a coconut/almond milk blend, and it was quite tasty (although I ate too much of it; a little bit of this “cereal” goes a long way).

I am actually looking forward to my lifting and run tomorrow afternoon, as it’s getting fun again. I finally got past the “Getting back into it” phase and I think I’ve psychologically and physically moved into the “This is fun; let’s keep building” phase.

Seeing and feeling the fruits of my labors realized by being able to wear this shirt really has helped me immensely. I’m glad I took a chance on this shirt. Oh, I think it looks pretty snazzy, too, so there’s a bonus.

You Are Stronger Than You Think

This was me after my assessment and selection to the SFAB. I got through a lot more than I thought I was capable of back then, too.

Those were the words my daughter left me with on Friday afternoon as I ended our call before I went on post to attend my first official week of Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS). I had expressed to her some anxiety and a little bit of fear about some of the physical aspects of the training I was about to undertake. Later that day, I was to take the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) which is a newly-implemented fitness test that currently has a high failure rate. I had taken one three weeks prior, but I was unable to complete one primary event (the leg-tuck) and had to substitute it with a 2-minute plank (which I was able to complete).

I had set my goal on improving each of the six areas of the ACFT which include:

  • Repetition Strength Deadlift (three deadlifts)
  • Standing Power Throw (throw a 10 lbs medicine ball behind you)
  • Arm Extension Push-Up
  • 250-Meter Sprint, Drag, Carry
  • Leg Tuck
  • The 2-mile Run

My results last time were good enough to pass:

  • 140 lbs deadlift
  • 7.2m standing power throw
  • 20 arm extension push-ups
  • 2:30 250m sprint-drag-carry
  • 0 leg tucks, but successful 2-minute plank
  • 19:47 2-mile run

Those were good, but personally, not good enough. I wanted to not only be able to show improvement through my efforts between drills, but I wanted to push myself to improve for personal reasons. I never like passing any sort of assessment with bare minimums; I want to have some wiggle room just in case I’m not able to perform at my best, I know I can still pass. So, I put in the work, and the following were my results:

  • 180 lbs deadlift
  • 8.5m standing power throw
  • 26 arm extension push-ups
  • 2:12 250m sprint-drag-carry
  • 4 leg tucks
  • 19:17 2-mile run

These are good improvements, but I’m setting a goal for myself to reach the next level of success. There are three levels of testing: Moderate, Significant, and Heavy. As a Warrant Officer, we are required to pass the ACFT at the Moderate, or “Gold” standard which is:

  • 140 lbs deadlift
  • 4.5m standing power throw
  • 10 extension push-ups
  • 3:00 250m sprint-drag-carry
  • 1 leg tuck
  • 21:00 2-mile run

The Significant standard is:

  • 180 lbs deadlift
  • 6.5m standing power throw
  • 20 extension push-ups
  • 2:30 250m sprint-drag-carry
  • 3 leg tucks
  • 19:00 2-mile run

Comparing my results against the Significant standard, I completed everything go Significant standard except for the run. For me to get there, I just needed to run a little faster. It is kind of painful knowing I missed making the significant standard by 17 seconds. 17 seconds is what seperated me from making significant standard across the board.

However, like anything, I have a goal, and I have a process to get me there. I will continue to train and push myself to attain the results I want. Will I ever make it to Heavy standard? Here’s what it takes for the Heavy standard:

  • 200 lbs deadlift
  • 8m standing power throw
  • 30 extension push-ups
  • 2:10 250m sprint-drag-carry
  • 5 leg tucks
  • 18:00 2-mile run

I think that getting the deadlift will be easy. My workouts will have me at 200 lbs deadlifts within the week, so doing a three-lift repetition for the test when I do 5 lift repetitions will be easy. I already can meet the standing power throw, and getting to 30 push-ups shouldn’t be problematic. The 2:10 sprint-drag-carry is a goal I’m already very close to, and with some more High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), I should be able to meet that standard. I’m only 1 leg tuck away from meeting the 5 leg tucks standard, and I think I will be able to get there and beyond soon enough. The most challenging of the six events for me will be the 2-mile run in 18 minutes. I have short legs, and running has never been my forte. However, I’ve actually run as fast as 16:47 in my two-mile runs in the past, but not after a smoke session like the ACFT.

The ACFT, unlike the older Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) is an endurance event that tests not only our physical capabilities and strength, but also our ability to balance our effort between the six events. If I smoke myself on the deadlifts to get a high score, that could detrimentally effect my ability to complete the sprint-drag-carry and the 2-mile run later in the test.

So, how does my daughter come into play with my experience this past friday with the ACFT? It’s because her words echoed to me throughout the entire text period. Every time I had some sort of doubt in myself or my abilities, I heard her saying, “You’re stronger than you think you are. You’ve got this.” Every time I heard those words, I pushed harder. I didn’t want to let her down, and I also needed to take her words to heart. It’s easy to slow down on a run when you’re feeling tired, but her words made me analyze how I was feeling. Am I out of breath? No; just breathing hard. Are my legs smoked? A little, but they aren’t sore or hurting. Can I push a little harder? Probably; let’s do this!

I challenge anyone reading this to consider that you are stronger than you think you are. There is more inside you than you likely are willing to admit, or want to admit. It’s easy to slow down or to stop, but if you slow down and aren’t breathing hard or aren’t exerting yourself during exercise, are you realling going to get the results you’re after? My dad always used to say if you’re going to do something, do it right the first time. That can apply to exercise: put in the work, and make it good, solid work. You will never see the results you’re after unless you push yourself, and the strength within you is greater than you think.

In case I had any doubts…

I am most definitely in Ketosis! Well, at least there are ketones in my urine which is a good indicator that my body is producing them and getting adapted to use ketogens as energy. In another month or so, it will be harder to test via urine for ketones as my body gets more keto adapted, but at least now, not only can I feel it, but I can see it in a tangible test. I saw the lower amounts on Monday, but the test results have been getting darker almost daily. 1.5 is decent. I’m happy with that. If I can get it higher, even better, but for now, I’m losing weight steadily and I’m feeling great.


Today I am 50

Today, I turn 50 years old. I never imagined that I would be as healthy and as fit as I am today when I was young. I hoped, but never really gave it much thought. 50 was so far off; why would I consider what it would be like to be 50 when I was 21? 25? 30? Nobody really thinks about it, and it creeps up on you. BAM! Just like that, I’m 50!

The weird part for me is that I feel better today at 50 than when I turned 40. When I turned 40, my wife threw me an amazing surprise party at an aviation museum in Galveston, Texas. My family and closest friends were there, and it was a special time. I was very overweight back then, and I remember thinking for the first time that my next big birthday was just 10 years off, and I began to wonder if I would make it that long. My health was okay but becoming troublesome, and fitness was something I couldn’t even imagine nor contemplate. I thought that 40 was the beginning of a decline for me that would end in my death sometime within the next decade.

Two years ago, things turned around for me in a big way. First, I did a Whole30 and then adopted the Paleo Diet. Then, exactly a year later, I began running. Now, I eat clean and I run 3-4 times a week. I can do 100 push ups without effort, and I can buy clothing off the rack anywhere. I can fit into booths, economy airline seats, and I can sqeeze through tight spots with ease. I can climb stairs without getting winded, tie my shoes without holding my breath, and I can do housework without breaking into a sweat. These are all amazing things that we take for granted when we’re young and fit, but these are all things I had given up on long ago.

Fifty isn’t old. At least it doesn’t feel old to me. I feel as good, or better, than I did when I turned 30. I’m definitely in better shape now, which is hard to believe. I remember thinking 50 was old when I was a kid. Now I know that I was wrong. Age is but a number; I feel young, and I will continue to do lots of fun things as long as I’m able. If I have anything to do with it, I’ll be here to annoy and pester my wife for a long time on the many adventures we hope to have together.

Happy birthday to me! This is the best one I’ve had in a long time, and I’m looking forward to celebrating a lot more of them!

Birthday Week Meals

Last night, Sherry took my cousin and I to Charivari, a special restaurant that has some amazing Eastern European food to include some Hungarian specials. I split a Foie Gras with Apple Slices with Sherry as an appetizer, and we both ate Jaegerschnitzel with Spaetzle as our main courses. I know; Spaetzle is non-Paleo, but it was a special occasion: my cousin and I haven’t seen each other since last year and he flew out specifically to surprise me for my birthday. For dessert, the three of us split a delicious and perfectly made Dobos cake. Again, non-Paleo, but so be it.

My cousin and I aboard the USS Cavalla, a WWII Gato-class submarine.

This morning, my weight was exactly where it was the day before; not an ounce gained. Perfect. For breakfast, I ate the pulled pork and apple egg casserole that Sherry had made earlier in the week. For lunch, we went to Gaido’s in Galveston where I had a grilled grouper with crab topping served with asparagus: a 100% Paleo lunch. For dinner, we went to a local favorite, Alicia’s, where I had the Puntas Chimino which is ham, bacon, beef, mushroom, onions, and jalapeños grilled in a cast iron pan with a side of grilled vegetables (zucchini, squash, carrots, and onions) and pico de gallo with avocado as a relish. Once again, a 100% Paleo meal, although it was a bit on the large side. I ate all of it, and nearly two hours later, I’m still stuffed.

I know that there’s a good chance I will gain a little weight, if only because of the volume of food I’ve been eating. I will run tomorrow morning to work off some of the excess calories and water weight, but truth be told, it’s all worth it. It was a day of amazing food, amazing company, and a special visit for my 50th birthday.

I always say that you have to live a little, even if you’re on Paleo. I made the best food decisions I could with a little bit extra here and there. I know the consequences, and I fully accepted them, and it was totally worth it.

End of the third Whole30

Yesterday marked the end of our third Whole30. The first Whole30 Sherry and I did was back in 2015. We started it in September, and it kicked off our healthy lifestyle and a weight loss of 150 lbs for me. We transitioned from Whole30 into the Paleo Diet, and it’s been our lifestyle ever since. We started a second Whole30 about six months later, but it didn’t last the duration. I don’t remember why, but for whatever reason, we fell off. It wasn’t such a big deal because we were well aware of the food rules, how to eat, what to eat, and we were continuing to make good progress in our health and weight loss.

About two or three months ago, Sherry told me she wanted to do another Whole30. She said that she had picked up some bad habits such as relying on snacks, desserts, and increased portion sizes in her meals coupled with a slight weight gain and inability to fit into some of her newer, smaller dresses. I agreed to do this Whole30 with her for a few reasons I’ve discussed earlier in blog posts a while back: solidarity, and a desire for me to lose a final few pounds to get to my final goal. Well, I’m happy to announce that I’m now firmly at and past my goal weight. I got down to 162.9 lbs, although my actual weight right now is hovering around 164 lbs. The reasons for this have more to do with muscle mass as my body fat ratio is around 10.5% as evidenced by my abs showing. From everything I’ve read, your abs only show when you’re around 10-11% body fat percentage or lower. There are some days they show better than others, especially after my runs, but I’m very happy with my body composition right now and with my weight. I fit into 31” trousers comfortably, and I can easily wear US small and medium or Europe M/L sized shirts.

Did I learn anything this time around on the Whole30? Not really. I learned what I needed to learn the first time through, but this time it kept me off of some sugars I would have likely eaten, even if they were Paleo-approved. It turns out that even the “Good” carbs can cause me to hold onto water weight or cause me to gain a little weight. Having done this last Whole30 coupled with the running and push ups I do regularly has really been a boon to my weight loss, and put me exactly where I want to be.

What’s next for Sherry and me? More of the same. We won’t be changing much up, although I will now have a little more freedom to eat a Paleo cookie after dinner if I really want one. Being an active runner forces me to eat some carbs, more than I normally would, after runs to help rebuild my muscles, so I will have a little more leeway to do that now. Since I weigh myself daily, I will continue to monitor my weight and analyze the previous day’s food intake and its effect on my body. I know that weight is but a single measure among a host of data points I use to analyze my overall health and fitness, and it’s difficult sometimes to reconcile a little weight gain with a smaller waist size, increased fitness performance, and reduction in body fat percentage. However, when analyzing the overall picture, I continue to make progress and I am surprised almost daily with at least one win in any given area. That’s huge.

Don’t underestimate what a Whole30 can do for you. I know a few people who are starting their own Whole30 soon, and I wish them luck and any help or advice they are looking for. I’m here for you! Don’t be shy; message me, PM me, or email me. Heck, if you have my number, text or call! I want to help you be as successful on your Whole30 as I was on mine. It really is a life-changer if you stick to it properly.

New Lowest Weight Reached

It seems that every few days lately, I’m reaching a new low weight. Whole30 isn’t designed specifically to lose weight, yet it is exactly what I’m experiencing right now. What is radical to me about it this time, on my third round of doing a Whole30, is that I’m losing weight so easily.

I lost 110 lbs in a year: 20 lbs in the first month on a Whole30 and the remaining 90 lbs in 11 months on the Paleo Diet. It took me another 8 months to lose an additional 30 lbs.

In the past week, I’ve lost 3 lbs. That’s a little over 2% weight loss in one week. That’s incredible.

Don’t tell me it’s exercise; it’s not. I’m not doing any more (or less) than I normally do. Don’t tell me it’s because I’m starving myself; I’m not. I eat pretty heartily and I’m stuffed after my meals.

I know exactly what is different this week versus the week before last: Whole30. I have been eating meat and vegetables in standard portion sizes (well, except for last night where I ate a little more than usual). My body responds well to this, and rewards me with shedding excess weight.

I’m pretty solid; my body fat is relatively low for someone my age. Losing weight is hard for me because right now, it’s mostly muscle and I don’t necessarily want to lose muscle weight. I do, however, still have some areas of stored fat and extra skin that I’m happy to see going away. It’s nice to see the body adapting to my diet and fitness and shed those extra pounds.

I now weigh 162.9 lbs. That’s a new low for me. I hope to go lower, but again, I’m in the bonus area, so even if I stop here, I’m happy. I just don’t ever want to see it go past 170 lbs ever again. Ever.

Mission Accomplished: 165 lbs


I did it. By sticking with the Paleo Diet and doing another Whole30 to help me get past the last 2 lbs, I finally reached my goal of 165 lbs.

I thought I’d do a happy dance or something silly, but after seeing the scale (and re-weighing myself three times to be sure), I raised my arms in victory, and then almost cried. I say almost, because there were no tears, but my eyes did water up, and I had to sit down to let it sink in.

I did it.

It took 20 months, but I went from 312 lbs to 165 lbs. My body fat went from an astonishing 47% to 11%. I went from living a sedentary lifestyle to being a runner who is also in the National Guard.

My wife says I’ve completely reconfigured myself. The crazy part is how much of the rest of my life followed suit. Changing my diet has changed much in my life, and all of it is for the better.

As my wife congratulated me yesterday on reaching 165 lbs, I thanked her because there’s no way I could have done it without her. Aside from the cooking of our lunches and many dinners, she’s motivated me and helped keep me on the right track more than once. This was possible because we are a team, and this was a team effort.

Now, as we’re doing our third Whole30, she’s already lost 4 lbs in 4 days (I know, we’re not supposed to weigh ourselves, but we always break that rule) and she’s feeling much better again already. As for me? I lost 2 lbs this week to push me past 165 lbs. I’m sticking with the Whole30, so I may get some more bonus weigh loss out of it. At this point, for me, I’m in bonus territory; any further weight loss is just bonus.

I feel good and look good at 165 lbs. I haven’t felt this accomplished of anything in a while. It feels good.

Happy Birthday to my Sister!

One of my biggest inspirations in health has been my sister. She has been into fitness for a long time now, and has always been the model of health and fitness to me and everyone in the family. She regularly participates in Spartan runs, mud runs, fun runs, 5k’s, and all kinds of other runs. In the past few years, she’s even gotten involved with body building and has won some awards!

This girl is only 2 years younger than me!!!

I hope one day she and I can do some of these runs together. I won’t be doing any body building contests, but running? I can do that! We used to do lots of stuff together as kids; it’d be nice to do so again as adults.

I wish her a HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY, and many more years of health and fitness!

She doesn’t just look good; she hits harder than a Mack truck, too!

New low and SO CLOSE!

Enjoying a cool morning before a dentist appointment with Buddy, our dog.

I weighed myself this morning as per my normal routine, and found that I’ve reached a new low weight: 166.9 lbs! That puts me at just under 2 more pounds until I reach my goal of 165 lbs! I’m really excited!

At my current sustained rate of weight loss, I should be there within the next week or two. I will celebrate once I’m there!