Food’s Power Over Us

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Food holds an incredible power over us. We need it to survive, and we need to refuel often and regularly. Our bodies can only use so much energy, and the rest is typically stored for later use, although our body prefers to use new energy to keep stored energy available in the event a new energy source in unavailable. For this reason, our brains are wired to acquire new sources of energy throughout the day. One of our most basic urges is to eat and drink. We can’t get eliminate this basic need, but we can decide what energy we fuel ourselves with.

When it comes to food I eat, I try to choose foods that were purchased whole, and natural. Meat, vegetables, and fruits. The fuel I put into my body is the best I can put into it. Afterall, we do become what we eat. I want to be the best I can be.

When dealing with our most basic need, it’s impossible to ignore the impulses. Hunger is one of the strongest (if not the strongest) feeling we have aside from fear. What a lot of people don’t realize, however, is that while we can’t get rid of hunger, you have the power to decide how you sate that feeling. The food you eat to make that feeling go away is completely within your power. If you’re craving something specific, it doesn’t matter.

I am a sugar addict. Much like others are addicted to drugs or alcohol, I feel like I’m a recovering sugar addict. It’s why I am so adamant about not cheating/sabotaging my lifestyle. It feels like a very slippery slope. In fact, while on vacation to Ireland and Scotland earlier this year, I allowed myself to eat anything and everything, which was great! But when I got home, it was very hard to get back to eating right. I had the cravings and false appetite for days afterward. It was miserable.

I eventually got over the cravings, but it once again reinforced to me how powerful sugar is, and how easily I can get addicted to it. It also reinforced to me the importance of sticking to my healthy lifestyle, with eating foods made from whole ingredients, and of sticking to/with food prep (and helping Sherry as much as I can when she makes our food).

Don’t let food run your life. Make food the fuel for your life. You decide what you do, when you do it. Don’t let food make those decisions for you. The more you practice restraint and control, the easier it gets. It never stops being a concern, but at least you gain control over your eating habits and can better control your hunger.

Who ran 5 miles yesterday and didn’t die?

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A joke I used to make after EVERY SINGLE RUN I finished on Facebook was, “…and I didn’t die.” I made that joke because of a comment I made years earlier that I don’t run because I would probably die.

Yesterday after work, I set out to complete a 4+ mile run. The weather was beautiful: 81 degrees Fahrenheit with a slight, cool breeze from the East. I started with a slow pace, knowing that I’d be running a longer distance than usual. I left myself open to the option of doing 5 miles but figured I’d make that call when I hit mile 3. Well, I hit mile 3, and decided to go for a new distance best (since starting to run again two years ago) and try to complete 5 miles. The crazy part is I did it and I felt good.

I was tired. My legs were tired. But I wasn’t spent. I didn’t feel like I just wanted to sit and not move. I actually felt alright. My pace was still slow, but honestly, it was right at what most training sites say it should be based on my fastest run times right now. The science part of my wanting to run longer distances is that it helps your shorter distance runs by building up the mitochondria in your cells to store more energy. You can then draw on that energy on shorter runs by running faster. Since I have an APFT coming up soon, I’m doing what I can to increase my 2 mile run speed. As far as push ups (and most likely sit ups) are concerned, I’m good. Honestly, I can pass the run, but I want to do the best I can.

As for food, I ate some carnitas Sherry and I made on Sunday along with some caulirice that had some of my home made chipotle in it. It was yummy! I also had an apple to help with my muscle recovery. I then went to sleep a bit early and slept like a log. When I woke up this morning, I felt great, energized, and only slightly sore from yesterday’s efforts. The scale was nice to me, and I dropped about 4 solid lbs from yesterday morning’s weigh in (which was high, I’m sure, due to the sweet potatoes I had at dinner the night before).

Tonight, I’ll be going to a Johnny Marr concert (he was the guitar player and co-writer for The Smiths), so I won’t be doing any normal exercise, but I will be on my feet for a few hours, and I’ll likely be jumping around, so there’s that. I plan on doing a much shorter and faster run tomorrow after work, and then a bike ride on Sunday morning with Sherry.

Remember: I lost 130 lbs before I even began to exercise. Weight is lost in the kitchen; fitness is built in the gym or on the road. You surely can exercise while losing weight; the mental benefits are huge. But you cannot exercise away a poor diet. That five mile run I did last night? It burned 655 calories (roughly). Think about that. That’s a Snicker’s bar worth of calories I spent nearly an hour running for. A much more effective way to build a calorie deficit is to eat less than your body burns during the day.

The Run I Hated

Monday’s run was terrible. I had high hopes for hitting 5 miles, but set a mental minimum of 4, yet I couldn’t do it. I had to stop at 3. Why? Because my legs were burning so badly, I couldn’t contemplate another mile. I hadn’t actually felt this spent during a run in the past three years, so I had to consider why it was happening, and I had to listen to my body.

To be fair, I had run 4.5 miles the previous Monday, 3 miles fast on Wednesday, and then walked all day at the Texas Renaissance Festival on Saturday. Sunday morning, Sherry and I rode 9.3 miles on our bikes, and then I set out for a long and slow run on Monday. It seems like I was being too aggressive, and my body was screaming at me. I tried to push on. The extreme soreness actually started when I hit mile 2, but I pushed onward to at least complete 3 miles. Then, I stopped.

I took Tuesday off, and today, I feel much better and prepared to hit another four mile run this afternoon. The weather should be nice enough, and my legs feel strong enough. I’m hoping to hit at 10 minute/mile pace or better, but I’m not pushing it. At this point, I’m trying to hit distances, not speed. I work on speed during my 3 mile and less runs.

The lesson in this is while we all set goals and we work hard to meet them, it’s important to listen to your body to avoid hurting  yourself. I probably could have pushed to go to 4 miles, but at what cost? And for what good reason? There were none. Now, I feel rested, ready, and able to hit 4 miles tonight. I’m actually looking forward to it.

Renaissance Festival and Bike Riding

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My son, me, and my wife at the Texas Renaissance Festival this past weekend.

This weekend was full of a lot of activities for Sherry and me. Saturday morning, we went to the Texas Renaissance Festival with our son and two close friends. We had a great time, and while I did drink some ciders and ate a few pieces of funnel cake, I was otherwise pretty good and ate all Paleo-friendly foods. Well, that bite or two of a churro I had was definitely not Paleo, but it was delicious.

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Sunday morning, Sherry and I started off the day with a 9.3 mile bike ride. We went to a park close to home and hit the trail, which is nice and paved (and how Sherry likes bike trails). Personally, I prefer the dirt trails, but this trail is exceptionally nice with some slight hills and the distance allows for a good workout. Next week, we will shoot for a 10+ mile ride. We were disappointed to find we barely missed making 10 miles this week.

Tonight, I will run again. My goal is to run 5 miles slowly. I won’t be pushing hard for speed; I just want to finish. Last week, my 4.5 mile run was about at my limit, and I’m hoping to be able to complete the 5 mile run. I have two more weeks until my APFT, and I’m still hoping to increase my pace through the work I’m doing this week and next week. Like I said in an earlier post, I already know I can pass the test. I just want to maximize my score (and beat the heck out of younger soldiers in the process!).

Sherry and I prepped my food for the week, and I’m really looking forward to the amazing new recipes she tried. These include Buffalo Chicken Soup, Pork Carnitas made with an orange marinade, and a beef roast.

I have weight to lose. Still. I’m sticking with it, but increasing my exercise. I don’t know what else I could do differently other than to perhaps look at going keto again. I have to consider that I’ve been building so much muscle that there’s a chance I’m just getting heavier with no real chance of being lighter unless I stop exercising (which isn’t going to happen). I have some more things to try (namely increasing exercise), but otherwise, I’m kind of at my wit’s end as to what I could do differently than I’m doing now without going full keto and/or even implementing IF (which I don’t want to do). So, here’s to a fresh week of experimentation and possible (hopeful!) weight loss!

It’s Your Journey: Take it by the Horns

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I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know it all. I sure as heck don’t take the time and effort to explain all the science behind Whole30, the Paleo Diet, Ketogenic Diet, intermittent fasting, or other methods I’ve experimented with. Think of me as someone who has been to a town or through a country that you are planning to visit, and you’re looking for advice on things to see and do. Perhaps (in keeping with the theme of my site), maybe asking what the best dishes and restaurants are. I have my opinions, and my ideas all based off personal experience, but the fact of the matter remains: your experience is uniquely your own. Just because I love a certain spice or type of food is no guarantee you will adore the same. Conversely, what works for me when losing weight may not be what is most efficacious to your own efforts.

As my Captain in the National Guard says often, “You do you.” I know you’re here for advice, motivation, and perhaps ideas. But ultimately, you decide which parts of what I have to say makes sense to you, which doesn’t, and apply accordingly. I will caution you, however, that much like a person telling you to avoid a certain street or highway due to pot holes and hazards, I try to point out things that can derail your process or take you off the path to success as it pertains to your health. I don’t take this responsibility lightly; it’s why I always offer as many alternatives as I can. It’s why I recommend low-carb diets over any other: because through my own experience and through the experience of those near to me, I see that it works. I know it works.

My way is not the only way. It’s the way I’ve found to be the best for me, but it may not be the best for you. You need to do what I did: experiment. Tweak your eating plan. Always be looking for recipes that are delicious, easy to make, and healthy. Always look for ingredients that are natural and wholesome. You will find your path and you will succeed. It may not happen on the first try, but with a little help from people who have been there (like me!), with a lot of perseverance,  and with a little luck, you’ll be well on your way to success in being a healthier you!

There’s no excuse for being overweight

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I don’t care if you’re 30, 50, or 80. I don’t care if you have hurt knees, feel muscle pain, or think that giving up certain foods is too hard. There is no valid excuse for being overweight. None. If you try to convince me otherwise, I’m going to shoot it down. Here’s why: I lost 150 lbs with NO EXERCISE by changing my diet to a healthier low-carb Paleo diet.

ANYONE can do this. It takes no additional physical effort. It does take some effort in planning and preparation, and perhaps some discipline, but that’s about it. Sprinkle some perseverance into the mix, and you’re losing weight and well on your way to a normal weight.

I see people on my Facebook feed posting time and time again how they’re too old to lose weight. They feel that they can no longer make an effective change in their lives. Others say they could never give up pizza, pasta, sodas, or other foods. Dismissing the problem doesn’t make it go away. Dismissing even the possibility of making a positive change in one’s health is silly, at best, and dangerous at worst.

We’ve all done something difficult. Whether it’s graduate school, raise children, serve in the military, or work in a profession that requires learning. We have proven to ourselves time and time again that we are capable of doing impressive things. Prove to yourself that you’re worth the time and effort to get healthy. I know you can do it. You just need to believe in yourself.

How I Look Isn’t Important

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Do I like how I look now that I’ve lost 150 lbs? Certainly. However, that wasn’t the reason I lost weight. I decided to adopt a healthy lifestyle because I wanted to be healthy, avoid discomfort, and possibly give myself a chance at living a longer life (you know, so I could annoy and chase my wife around longer).

I hear too often that people think that weight loss is all about how they look. I think that this is a problem our society has: we base too much of a person’s value or worth mainly on appearance. We teach little girls to be pretty, little boys to be handsome. We criticize and tease those who are overweight and call them names like, “Fatty,” or “Tubby,” which causes them to have issues with self-worth and self esteem. As these kids grow up, they become adults with low self esteem that feel they need to change their appearance to be accepted.

If your sole reason for losing weight is because you feel under pressure to do so because of society, please think about it. Doing anything for other people is difficult, at best. I implore you to reevaluate your reasons for doing this, and make sure that it’s a positive change that you are making. For you to be successful long-term, this needs to be for yourself.

We need to place less emphasis on how we look and more on how healthy we are. I see many articles in media today about acceptance of obesity and people who are overweight, and I understand what they’re getting at, but I think people are latching on to the wrong aspect of it. Being obese is not healthy, it’s not good for anyone, and it most certainly causes health issues and increases mortality. With that said, nobody ever should be ridiculed, criticized, or preached to based on their weight. Nobody should be ever made to feel less important due to their weight.

I undertook a healthier lifestyle for my health, for my comfort, and so that I may live a little longer. I don’t know how much more time I bought myself by getting healthier, but I can’t help but to think that I was on a much steeper down-hill tumble when I was morbidly obese.