Cooped Up and Comfort Foods

There’s a lot of uncertainty right now in the world with COVID-19. I know a lot of people are stressing about this, and food is one of those things that brings people comfort, hence the area of foods known as “Comfort Foods.” Many of these tend to be carb-heavy and are foods that take us back to a happier time in our lives, most often childhood. For me, there are many comfort foods that I can’t eat anymore, but fortunately, as I thought about it, I was able to find a few that were meat and vegetable based.

One way to stay motivated is to keep eating right. Do what you can to continue with your chosen diet, whether it’s Whole30, Paleo, Keto, etc. Sure, it might be more difficult to stick to it now with shortages in staple food items, but the shortages will be short-term as the supplies restock as people realize they bought too much, or don’t need to keep hoarding so much. The more difficult part is the psychological burden COVID-19 is putting on us all. Comfort foods are very tempting right now.

Make a list of the comfort foods you love. Yes, even the carb-filled ones. Once your list is done, cross off all the items your diet doesn’t support. Hopefully, you have a few left that aren’t crossed out that you can make for yourself. If your entire list is crossed out, then do a Google search on an alternative version that doesn’t contain elements not compliant with your diet. For me, that would be either Whole30 or Paleo versions.

Sure, there will be some foods you just can’t find an alternative for, but you’ll be surprised how many foods have alternate ingredient versions that are much healthier for you.

Keep your head up, and keep isolating yourselves. If we do our part, this virus will come and go and hopefully skip you and your friends and family. There’s no need to give up on your health. Stick to the plan and do what you can to get some exercise and eat right!

Love in the Time of COVID-19

Let’s all head on down to the Winchester and wait for all this to blow over.

Love in the Time of Cholera is a pretty famous book that is referenced in a lot of movies. Typically love movies. Why? Because the book talks about finding those people in your world who you would want to keep close to you. In the book, the couple knew they’d be separated when their ship docked in port, so they rose a Cholera flag which kept them at sea.

What does that book have to do with Coronavirus? Well, we have an opportunity here to be with those people we would want to keep close to us in a 14-day quarantine. I can’t think of a better way to spend 14 days inside than with Sherry. For those who were thinking about doing a Whole30 or starting the Paleo Diet, it’s also a good time to deplete your personal stock of non-compliant foods.

Now hear me out. I know that it’s hard to find groceries right now, and right now might not be the best time to try to start eating healthy when you can’t find meat and veggies in the stores. However, now is a good time to prepare for when things get back to normal by getting rid of all the bad foods while you’re stuck inside by eating it all.

This goes against what I’d normally recommend, but during a pandemic and national emergency (heck, a GLOBAL emergency!), it’s foolish to throw anything away right now. So, all those bags of chips? Cookies? Candy? Noodles? Beans? Rice? Eat it all! Use it all up! And when you’re done with them, replace them with good stuff: meat and veggies and fruit.

Remember to wash your hands, avoid crowded areas, and don’t go out unless you have to. If you are going to get together with folks, try to avoid touching and sharing glasses/cups/eating utensils/etc. You don’t have to become a Bubble Boy, but you should be careful. Even if the virus won’t kill you, you could carry it to someone who is vulnerable and could kill them.

As for Sherry and me, we’ll be at the Winchester waiting for all this to blow over.

I am the turtle

I have to keep telling myself that progress is progress, even when it’s slow. Perseverance is the name of the game. It’s the strategy the turtle used to beat the hare. It’s the strategy I’m using to get to my final weight goal.

However, while rethinking my weight goal last night, I realized that it might not be realistic given the amount of physical activity I’m doing now. I am not only running, but weightlifting. This is going to build more muscle, and while I will definitely continue to lose some of the fat I’ve added to my body over the past six months, I’m going to be building heavier, denser muscle in its place.

This is why it’s so important to use a number of data points when analyzing your overall health and fitness. While I may never see 160 lbs again, I will definitely be stronger, healthier, and more fit.

I am doing all the right things now: getting enough sleep, eating smaller and healthier portions, and getting exercise. The final ingredient is time: I just need to continue to put in the work, and the results will come.

A Week of Duty

Me wearing my fancy rain jacket because… well, it was raining.

I’m back! Sorry for being gone for a week, but I had military duty last week and I was a bit busy. I was learning about a computer system that aids forward observers in calling for fire support from artillery or close air support from air assets. It was fascinating and actually a lot of fun! The hardware worked properly, and more importantly, the instructor was very good. I scored a 98% on my final exam which made me happy!

As for health and fitness, my wife Sherry meal prepped for me, so most meals were home-cooked. The hotel I stayed in had a kitchenette which made it easy for me to warm up the food. The meals I ate that weren’t prepped were all Paleo-friendly and I made sure to control my portions.

For exercise, I ran and did my push-ups. I ran around the hotel, and on the one day it was cold and rainy, I ran on the treadmill in the hotel’s gym. I felt great, and it was good to be able to continue my fitness regimen.

In the hotel right after a three mile run in the gym.

This week, I will concentrate on some HIIT and distance as well as trying to get back into my weightlifting. My shoulder is more or less better now, although it’s still tender to the touch. I can lift things without pain, so hopefully, I’ll be able to get back into the weightlifting and start making gains again.

Your health depends on how high a priority you place on it. Even though I was out of town, I made sure to keep my health and fitness at the top of my priorities, and even though there was an In-n-Out Burger within a mile of my hotel, I never once went there. I was tempted, but my health and progress is far more important than the temporary satisfaction of a burger and fries.

If you make your health and fitness a priority, everything will fall in behind them, and you’ll find that it really wasn’t so difficult to stay in shape and to stay healthy. So many people say they don’t have time to exercise or they can’t spare the effort in planning meals and eating right. These same people complain about being overweight and being out of shape and wishing there was something easy they could do to reverse both. The reality is that there is no fast and easy way. It’s all done the old fashioned way: eat right and get exercise. Once you get past the hurdle of committing and starting, the rest is easy.

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!