The Obstacle Is The Way

This is the way.

I saw this quote this morning, and it really hit home for me.

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

Marcus Aurelius

I wanted to be healthy, but to me, there were obstacles I thought I could never get past. These were:

  • Healthy diet
  • Exercise
  • Healthy lifestyle

I reached a point where I had to either tackle the obstacles, one by one, or I would not live much longer. I had tried, in the past, to get healthy, to eat right, and to exercise, but each time, the attempts crashed and failed. I was working with bad information, or misinformation, and no matter how hard I tried, I always ended up worse off than if I’d never tried. I had almost given up until a perfect storm of advice and life events brought me to making the decision to change my life.

2016 vs 2021.

Tackling diet and exercise at the same time, for me, was unthinkable. I decided that the best thing to do was to first change my diet. The first obstacle we tackled was our unhealthy diet. Sherry and I did our first Whole30 and went all-in on healthy eating. We transitioned into Paleo and never looked back. Within the first month (on Whole30), I lost 20 lbs, and for the following 11 months on Paleo, I lost an additional 110 lbs. What was more striking to me was that the entire time I was on Paleo and losing weight, I was never hungry, I didn’t starve, and I didn’t crave sweets or snacks. This “New” way of eating for me became the norm, and I actually enjoyed and preferred it. Not only because of how I felt, or because I was losing weight (and getting much healthier!), but because I even preferred the way the food tasted. This was our first example of the obstacle becoming the way. Over five years later, we are still Paleo, still doing the occasional Whole30, and now, it’s just the way we eat.

Hiking up a small mountain for ziplining.

That brings me to the next obstacle: exercise. When I did my first Whole30, and admittedly, throughout my entire first year of Paleo, I was vehemently and militantly against exercise. I didn’t want anything to do with fitness or exercise, and I thought I could go on forever without it. But something funny happened. I realized that being lighter wasn’t enough; that I needed exercise to complete my healthy lifestyle. I also decided that I wanted to try to get back into the military, and fitness is a big part of that. I dove head-first into fitness and found, once again, that the obstacle became the way. I began doing push-ups, then walking which turned into jogging which turned into running. I even started weightlifting. Now, I feel anxious when I can’t get my exercise, and my legs feel like they’re fully charged and ready for action unless I can run at least every other day (as I write this, I’m looking forward to my weightlifting and running later today!).

Today, in 2021, I find myself living a healthy lifestyle, something I could have never imagined 6 years ago. Looking back, there’s very little I miss from my life back then: health problems, decreased self esteem, moodiness, and a lack of mobility. Today, I get to mountain bike, kayak, hike, zip-line, go camping, and I get to do cool stuff in the National Guard.

I have a road march (with a 48 lbs pack) coming up very soon, and every time I do one of these “Ruck” marches, at some point, I always smile when I realize that I’m still doing this crazy stuff at my age. I smile because six years ago, being on a trail with a heavy ruck on my back, walking for 4 or 6 miles, was something unthinkable. It was such a surmountable obstacle that I couldn’t even fathom a walk that long, let alone within a 16:30 minute/mile pace with a heavy ruck on my back. And yet, here I am: the obstacle has become the way.

I am very fortunate to be able to do cool stuff like this at my age.

What seems impossible today can become the norm for you, but it’s not an easy path to follow. It will take hard work, persistence, and sacrifice. It takes time. Sometimes, a lot of time. But it’s a journey without a destination; it just becomes The Way.

Playing the Pendulum Game (Losing Size vs Losing Weight)

On this Whole30, just like every other one before it, my weight loss is not linear; It’s like steps on stairs. I can go for a few days without losing any weight and all, and then all of the sudden, 2-3 lbs are gone. It’s been like this for me every time I’ve done a Whole30, and it was this way for an entire year when I lost my first 130 lbs on the Paleo Diet.

This past weekend, I did EVERYTHING perfect: portion sizes, Whole30 compliant food, got enough sleep, and even exercise. How much weight did I drop? 0.0 lbs. BUT, and this is the most important part: I had to pull my belt in an inch. A FULL INCH. I am certain that there are scientists or physicians who can tell me the science behind this, but it seems to me that I’m either losing size or weight. My guess is that you don’t actually lose fat cells; they just “Deflate” for a while until the body decides that they aren’t needed anymore and THEN gets rid of them. The result is the weight or size pendulum.

I can already see a difference in my face and in my abdomen. I look less bloated and I’m beginning to see more definition in my abs (which is something, because I have A LOT of spare skin there). I’m starting to feel much better now that the first week is over. The first week on Whole30 is always pretty rough, and this one was no exception. I had the headache, the soreness, the lack of energy, and feeling otherwise not well. Today, I awoke feeling much better than even yesterday which, I thought, was my best morning yet.

I always say, and firmly believe, that weight should not be the sole measure of success for a healthy diet. It is, however, a data point to be considered in a holistic approach to one’s health. By holistic, I am refering to the textbook definition: “Characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.” So, when we say that we’re improving our health, we are talking about many different areas that are interconnected and are part of the whole. One part in and of itself does not define the whole. I have known plenty of people who were considered, “Thin” and appropriate weight and still had heart disease, fatty liver disease, Type-2 Diabetes, and high cholesterol while I’ve known people who are considered overweight to have none of these issues other than high weight. Which of these individuals would be considered healthier?

What are some other metrics I use to gauge my health?

  • How do I feel? Do I feel more alert? Did I get better sleep? Is it easier to concentrate on things? I always see improvements in my general mood and alertness as my health improves.
  • How well do my clothes fit? Do I need to wear a size M or size L t-shirt? As I lose weight and size, I feel more comfortable in my clothes.
  • How do my joints feel? Do I have any soreness? As I get healthier, and lose weight, there’s less stress on my joints, ligaments, and tendons.
  • How is my skin? Any rashes, dryness, or other issues? The healthier I eat, the better my skin seems to get.
  • How are my bowel movements? Normal? I have written about this at length in the past, and while I won’t get too much into it here, let’s just say that things are MUCH better when I’m eating healthy.
  • How easy is it to run 3 miles? The less I weigh, the easier the runs are (and yes, I can feel the difference 5 lbs makes!).
  • How flexible am I? The less bulk I have, the more flexible I seem to get.

So, while weight is not the primary measure of health, it is one of the easiest to comprehend. We like numbers, and it’s easy for us to equate lower numbers with high quality of health, although this is not always true. I want to dispel one thing, however, before I end this post: being obese and fit is a myth. I know there are people out there who are obese and can run 5k’s, 10k’s, and even a few who run marathons, but being obese is most definitely not healthy and is taxing the body’s systems at a much higher rate than if they weighed less. It’s not about being thin, but it’s about not carrying so much extra weight that your body is working overtime.

I am happy with my results so far, and I’m looking forward to the end of this month and the end of this Whole30. I asked Sherry about Paleo Pizza, and she reminded me that it’s not Whole30 compliant. I love Paleo Pizza… mmmmm… Pizza….

The First Things to Happen on a Whole30

I joked a few days ago about starting a non-Whole30 Whole30. The reason for the joke was that my wife and I have done so many of them, at this point, they’re just another facet of our health and fitness journeys. Sunday comes every week; our Whole30’s come after every holiday cluster. So, I’m in week one right now, and have experienced some of the same symptoms I always get on Whole30:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Feeling tired
  • Anxiety
  • Cravings and increased appetite

Those are the negatives that everyone is afraid of, and quite frankly, that most people focus on. However, there are also some positives I’ve exerperienced not only this week, but every time I’ve done a Whole30. So far this week:

  • Pants already feel looser due to decreased bloating
  • Face feels less puffy (also due to decreased bloating)
  • Day 5 brought increased energy and mental clarity
  • Already noticing that smaller portions fill me up

That last bullet surprised me the most. I thought it would take longer for the smaller portions to feel like they’re enough, but it’s already happened. Yesterday at dinner, I had a standard Whole30 portion of a dish Sherry meal prepped for us on Sunday, and afterward, I was not only satisfied, but not craving any follow-up food or dessert. For the previous 4 days, I had to augment dinner with an apple to make up for some bulk to make me feel full. Last night? Not needed.

The one major Whole30 rule I always break (since the very first one) is to not weigh yourself. However, I don’t prescribe to the “One size fits all” approach to this rule because for me (and many other people I know), daily weighing allows for immediate feedback and better/closer analysis of how the foods we eat impact our bodies and in turn, our health. I weighed myself on my first day on the Whole30, and already, I’m down 5 lbs. I know it’s water weight, but that’s important, because that’s what the decreased bloating was. That’s why my pants have gotten a little looser, and my belts need to be brought in another belt hole.

I’ve been getting more sleep, sticking to my exercise, and eating only the meals we have prepped and not eating beyond the suggested serving sizes. I’m not feeling starved, hungry, or wanting more food. Admittedly, coffee helps, but I switch to tea in the afternoons to help me sleep through the night. I’ve found that I’m no longer able to drink coffee into the night and sleep soundly. If I cut off the coffee by 1 pm daily, my nightly sleep is much more restful. Since sleep is so important to not only weight loss but to our general health, I’ve placed a higher priority on getting the sleep and making sure I can get the best quality sleep possible.

So, my first week of Whole30 is going exactly as planned. My goal for the first week of any Whole30 is to lose the 5 lbs of water weight and to drop an additional 5 lbs over the following three weeks. I also aim to reduce my intake of foods with higher carbs (even if Paleo), and to reduce the volume of food I eat (which is the root of my problem with my weight/health). I know that my chances of getting my weight back down in the 170’s may be unattainable, but I’m not backing down. I want to get back to that weight as I felt my best there. It will take me some time, but with some hard work and perseverance, I’ll make it. Maybe not this month or even next month, but I will get there. I’m playing the long game; no need to rush or hurry things.

Day 1 of the non-Whole30 Whole30 2021

This is an older photo from when I put some fresh bacon bits on top, but it’s otherwise the same breakfast I had this morning.

Last night, I noticed Sherry reading a long article on her iPhone and I asked her if she was reading anything interesting. She said, “Your last blog entry; I want to see what you’ve committed me to.” I had to laugh. I actually went out of my way to not commit her (or us) to anything beyond what we already agreed upon. Maybe it wasn’t a formal handshake agreement, but as far as I was concerned, we had a good plan, and there was no reason for me to add to that.

This morning began our first day of our non-Whole30 Whole30 for 2021. We started with smoked salmon on scrambled eggs with a coconut cream and avocado mayonnaise ranch dressing with sliced avocados on top. This has been a staple breakfast of ours for the past few months, and I have to say I really enjoy it. We ate bacon and eggs for breakfast for over five years with rare exceptions, and while I enjoy it, I have to admit that the salmon still feels like a treat. The fact that it’s so incredibly healthy for us is bonus.

Sherry meal prepped our food for the week, and (surprise!) it’s all Whole30 compliant, so I’ll be good in that department. I will be working out later today which means I’ll have my banana half before and the other banana half afterwards. A tip given to me by a TAC Officer at Warrant Officer Candidate School was to eat half a banana before my workout and follow the workout with the other half. I wasn’t sure if it would make a big difference, but I swear I can feel when the sugar hits my blood as I feel like I have more power as I lift. After my run is complete, eating the other half of the banana seems to reduce my muscle pain. This may all be in my head; I don’t care. It feels like it works and that’s all I need.

Some things for me to remember for today and the next few days:

  • Sugar withdrawls are going to be tough, but they will be over in a few days.
  • No snacking; keep yourself busy!
  • Portion sizes; you want to eat more because it feels good. Don’t. Stick to the normal portions, and soon, the normal portions will be enough.
  • No desserts. There’s no need for them. After the sugar cravings are gone, the desire for desserts will also subside.
  • Whole30 works (even if this isn’t a Whole30). Trust it like you have before and you will get the same results.

Who am I kidding. We’re doing a Whole30. There’s a lot of pressure on us every time we do one, though, but honestly, I need that. I picked up a few pounds over the past two weeks that I need/want to get rid of, and I need my fitness level to elevate as I prepare for this month’s WOCS drill where I will need to do a 4-mile ruck (what we call a road march). I will likely do a 4-mile ruck of my own this Wednesday to prep for it mentally. Last month, I did a 2-mile ruck after a really hard run two days earlier and I learned that it was a mistake to run so hard two days before a ruck. I made it with a lot of time to spare, but my legs were far more worn out than they should have been or than they were when I did the 3.1-mile ruck in October. This time, I’ll make sure to skip my Wednesday run before my weekend drill to make sure my legs are as fresh and ready as possible.

So, that’s where I am as we start 2021. What are your plans? Did you make any resolutions? Are you continuing on any gains from 2020? Let’s crush 2021 together and get it done!

Another Whole30…

It’s that time again. Every now and then, after a serious examination of my eating habits and health, I find it necessary to do a reboot of the ol’ diet. After the amazing vacation Sherry and I just completed, we found it was time for another Whole30. While we didn’t go as far off the reservation as we did when we were in Scotland a few years ago, we did drink wine every night and allowed ourselves to go off-plan a few times. That’s to be expected on a vacation, but I have something coming up soon that I MUST be at my healthiest for: I’m going to be attending Warrant Officer Candidate School in a little over a month.

My weight is higher than it should be, and with nearly a month without exercise due to injury followed immedately by vacation, I find myself in the precarious situation of being overweight and not in top shape. I’m taking the next five weeks to rectify that situation.

It’s not easy. Exercise on Whole30 is possible, but it can feel harder since I won’t be having nearly as many carbs as I do on Paleo. Add to that the fact that the first week of Whole30 is hellish on it’s own, and that makes for a really unpleasant experience. Fortunately, I’ve done Whole30 a time or nine, so it’s nothing new. I know not only what to expect, but I know that once I get through this week, I’ll feel so much better, and my body will be so much healthier.

How do we get into the situations where we NEED a Whole30 for a reset? I think it’s due to human nature, old habits, and our culture.

Human nature is to eat, eat, eat. It’s a survival mechanism. We love food, and that’s an instinct that drives us to consume when we can to guard against the lean times. Our ancestors needed these instincts. Today in our world of abundance? It leads to obesity and overeating.

Old habits die hard. I used to eat for the pleasure of eating. I still love to eat, and I still enjoy food, but I need to actively remember that eating is for fueling our body and not for entertainment.

Our culture, as every culture around the world, is focused on food. Think of every social gathering you have ever been to. It either had food or alcohol at it’s core. Snacks, full-on meals, drinks, etc: they all count as food-centered activities. Even going to a little league game has snacks like nachos, chips, and sugar-filled drinks like sodas readily available.

I’m in the thick of it today, and will be for another three or four days, but I see light at the end of the tunnel. I know what to expect, and I know it’s going to be great. I just keep reminding myself that this is temporary, and soon I will be on the other side of hell week. I just need to not kill anyone before I get there.

Whole30 Day 29 Wrap-Up

One more day to go!

I was recovering from the flu today, so I stayed home from work and ate a weird schedule. I still had my three meals, though.

My stock Pork, Apple, and Egg Casserole photo.

Breakfast: Pork, apple, and egg casserole. While it’s in the refrigerator, I will eat it!

This stuff is delicious!!!

Lunch: Paleo/Whole30 compliant Shepherd’s Pie. Sherry made this on Sunday, it was very delicious and filling!

The other plate in the picture was Sherry’s dinner.

Dinner: As I was feeling much better, and yesterday was my late father’s birthday, we went out for dinner tonight. Usually we do it on his birthday, but I was feeling far too sick to go out. We ate Mexican at a local favorite, Alicia’s. I had a Red Snapper with crab meat, crawfish, and artichoke sauce with some grilled vegetables. It was really filling, and definitely hit the spot. My dad would have liked this one. The only thing I didn’t get to do as I always do by tradition is have a Margarita. I’ll hoist a drink for my dad this weekend when I’m done with this Whole30.

Whole30 Day 28 Wrap-Up

This is my, “I don’t feel well” face.

It’s been four weeks! Of course, I’m still not feeling well, but I am excited for the end of this Whole30! Why? Because it’s made a big difference already in helping me reset my appetite, serving sizes, and it helped strengthen my discipline. All good things. Oh yeah: lost some weight, too!


Breakfast: Pork, apple, and egg casserole. YUMMY!


Lunch: Bacon-covered Chorizo Meat Loaf!!! I LOVE this stuff!!! It’s probably my favorite Whole30 meal, and I was very happy to see containers of it in the refrigerator when I went to pull out a lunch. This kept me completely satisfied, and was amazing!

Dinner: Left-over bacon-wrapped cod with asparagus. I had roughly three pieces of the cod and about 7 sprigs of asparagus. I followed that up with a bit of cantaloupe to calm my stomach. I feel much better now.

Whole30 Day 22 Wrap-Up

We are now day one into our fourth and final week! This is exciting!

Portion sizes are holding steady; I eat as much as it takes to fill me up. I’m not gaining any weight, and while I’m not necessarily seeing much movement on the scale, I do feel great and my clothing (and rings on my fingers) are all much looser. I know my body composition is changing again to leaner. Coupled with my running, this healthier eating is giving me many benefits I knew normally happen, but I didn’t expect to be so noticable for someone like me who has been Paleo for over two years. Wow.


Breakfast: This is where it gets weird. I had some medical tests scheduled for today, so I had to fast in the morning prior to a blood test. Therefore, I didn’t eat my normal breakfast, and I was only able to eat a bag of nuts after the blood test and before lunch. So, my breakfast was small and basically eaten just to stave off some hunger.

Lunch: 10 small-ish chicken wings with mild Buffalo sauce and roughly 6 pieces of carrot and 6 pieces of celery. No sauce for dipping; I just ate these straight. I didn’t get a photo because it would have been weird in the restaurant, but I think everyone can picture what this looked like.


Dinner: Sherry made sous-vide steak with some zucchini that she grilled in a pan with some coconut oil. It was delicious! I seared the steak after she cooked them to give them grill marks and they turned out beautiful!

Whole30 Day 16 Wrap-Up

OK. So I was bad again, and slept in really late. In doing so, I forfeited breakfast. I know it’s not the best thing to do, but I don’t want to get completely off-schedule with my eating for the day since I won’t be staying up late and I don’t want to eat a dinner too late in the day. So, I ate a bigger portion of lunch than usual, and had dinner a little earlier than normal. In the end, I think the calories will even out.

Breakfast: Skipped while sleeping. It was so nice and comfy and warm in my bed when I initially got up that I didn’t want to get out of bed. I fell back asleep and got a lot of rest. I feel great, but I am paying for it by skipping a meal.

Layered Taco Casserole. Delicious!

Lunch: Some kind of great Mexican-inspired dish made by Sherry called Layered Taco Casserole which has plantains as the base layer and guacamole as the top layer. It tastes great, and it was very filling!

Dinner: We went to a local favorite called Nik’s Steak and Seafood. My dinner started with a dinner salad with oil and vinegar after which I had the 8 oz grilled snapper and six grilled shrimp served with brocolli and sweet potato. This is one of my favorite “Out for dinner” places as the prices are very reasonable and the food is EXCELLENT. The bad news: I forgot to take photos! I was so excited to get my dinner that I immediately dug in. Sorry!