Day 90 – Reflections Of My Journey… So Far

Career change.  These are words that produce a certain amount of anxiety especially when the career change requires a state license. Part of the reason for the long silent period between blogs lately is because I did not want to be part of the 50% who fail the 4 hour long state exam the first time so I was spending a lot of time studying for it.  Now that I have taken the exam and passed it  (I almost aced it), I am back to paying attention to my blog… and workouts… and eating habits…  Throughout my break I rarely went to the rec center but maintained, for the most part, my healthy diet.  As a result, I am still between 245 and 250 pounds.  Now that my days will be fuller with my new career, I will have to figure out how I will work in my workout.

Here is what is NEW:

JUICING
I have learned when things happen three times in a row it is usually God trying to tell me something.  This time it was juicing.  The first instance happened when Mandi (my beautiful daughter) told me about a juicing bar she discovered near her home.  She said one of the owners became sick and standard medicine didn’t work so he turned to juicing.  In time he recovered and believed in juicing so much he opened a juice bar.  The next instance happened when my friend Warren told me about the movie Sick, Fat and Nearly Dead, which is about a man who became sick and, like the juice bar owner, medicine didn’t help so he turned to juicing, as well.  Finally, one of my emails from a health subscription mentioned the alternative to preparing a meal was to concoct a juice and drink it for instant super nutrients.  Three times is the charm so being the Type-A guy I am, I went to the fridge and started throwing things in the blender.

Juicing is taking veggies and fruit and making a juice from them to replace or supplement a meal.  It can be done in a blender or in a juicer and I don’t mean the kind that you had as a kid where you twisted the orange on it to get the juice out.  Nope.  The juicers they use now start at $150 and go up.  These old juicers can’t juice a carrot but the new ones can.  Since I don’t yet have a juicer I throw it all into the blender, add water and turn on the blender until is pulverizes everything into a light pulp.It can be messy but it can also be fun and it is very healthy.  Here is one of my favorite recipes:

1/2 Red Pepper
1 Banana
12 – 15 Red Grapes
1/8 Cantaloup
Handful of Spinach Greens
1 Small Tomato
1/2 Lemon

Next, fill the hopper 3/4 with water and let her rip.  My blender does a poor job of pulping the grape skins but who cares.  It comes out kind of thick but you get used to drinking it all down in no time.  I know it doesn’t sound appetizing but it tastes surprisingly good. I find that through juicing I am eating foods every day that I normally would not eat.  As a result, I feel healthier and I am eating less.  Warning!  Juicing may cause more frequent trips to the restroom.  I now have at least one juice concoction a day and sometimes two.

LOCALLY GROWN FOOD
Living in a rural area offers a treasure of food sources I have just recently become aware of.  Within ten miles from my house I have discovered a Guernsey farm that sells farm fresh milk, farm fresh eggs, and farm fresh butter.  The farmer keeps it all in a refrigerator in his garage where people wander in, take what they need and leave the money in jar. There are no hormones or steroids and the cows are happy so there are no stress toxins in the milk.  Pam and I have discovered the milk tastes different when it is straight from the cow.  It is sweeter, creamier, and just plain awesome.  In fact, it is so creamy we discovered it is a great replacement for half and half in our coffee.  The farmer says that the balance of protein and fat in his milk is such that is actually less fattening than processed whole milk at the grocery store even though it has a higher fat content.  Not sure how that works but if you can’t trust an Okie farmer who can you trust?

I also discovered local farmers sell their fresh produce in the parking lot of the Expo Center in Claremore every Saturday morning.  We can buy almost anything and it is all organic with no artificial coloring or chemicals added.  And, there is an Amish butcher shop that sells any cut of meat you can imagine.  The prices for this locally grown, healthy food is far cheaper than Whole Foods Market and is fresher.  I love it.

MY OWN GARDEN
I have never been interested in keeping a veggie garden. But, since finding my favorite veggies at the farmer’s market is sometimes a crap shoot I decided to grow my own red peppers, poblanos, and sweet onions.  Again, being a Type-A personality I just couldn’t stop there. Pam and I also planted green beans, broccoli, and a host of other veggies.  Not only is it healthy, it is also fun.  In fact, this may turn out to be a hobby.

When I think back to January it is amazing how much has changed in our lives – especially mine.  Before I was fat, felt tired all the time, and in a rut.  The company where I worked was a cesspool of stress and mismanaged by a guy who has no business in business.  I ate too much and what I did eat was slowly killing me.  Today, I have a new career, I eat healthy and happily, I work out and I feel great.  In fact, I am finding I am rethinking a lot of things.  With all these physical improvements I am starting to reflect on who I am, as well.  The idea of being a better husband, father,and friend is becoming even more important than ever to me.  If I can improve what I put into my body I can also improve what I put into my spirit.  I am just liking life much more today than I have in years.

End of Day 90

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Day 46 – Tight Jeans, Trigycerides, and Infomercials

Weight:  246
Workout:  Run, walk, sprint – 80 deep knee bends, 30 push-ups, lower body circuit
Breakfast:  Egg, sausage
Lunch:  Tri-tip steak, red pepper (raw), half orange
Dinner:  Chicken and fried red/green bell peppers

Those of us who have experienced a wide range of numbers on the scale have several things common.  First, most of us have a few token articles of clothing we have kept around from a time when we could fit in them.  I don’t understand why this is. People generally get rid of the things they can no longer use but for some reason unknown to science people who gain weight over time always keep a few things around that no longer fit our larger structure.  I think it is a milestone thing, like we somehow knew we would pass that way again.  My old collection included two pairs of jeans that have been hanging in my closet for at least six years – one black, one blue.  The other day I tried them on for kicks and to my surprise they fit.  The black ones were a little tight but I could get them zipped up which is a feat that has escaped me for a long time.

Another thing we have in common is a general distrust (and disgust) of anything that can be purchased with three equal payments and has a money back guarantee.  This would include Zumba, Insanity, Fitness Gym, Magic Abs and all the rest of the get-fit infomercials on TV.  I wish these people would just once have someone with a 30 day before and after picture that resembles mine.  Get real. No amount of money in the world can transform a 350 pound man into a lean, mean, buffed up,175 pound, ab chiseled krunk of a man in just 30 days for three equal payments of $29.99.  I find it intellectually dishonest and personally insulting due to the fact it makes me feel like I will never look like the ex-fat guy turned Schwarzenegger unless I pony up with a credit card.  Guess what fitness gurus, I don’t need you.  Actually, I am intrigued with the idea of putting my routine on a DVD and selling it for three equal payments to people who want to get healthy.  I should get something out of all my research.  Right?

I went and had my annual check-up and something interesting happened.  My doctor called me several days after the blood test to tell me my triglycerides were at 270.  When I asked what a triglyceride was he told me it was fat in the blood.  The last time I was tested my triglycerides were 125 so he was curious if I had changed my diet.  Well… yes as a matter of a fact I have.  I told him about the Paleo plan and he surprisingly supported the plan but  insisted I take 1000 MGs of Omega 3 Fish Oil twice a day and come back in 90 days to be retested.  The blood test also reported my cholesterol was 134 and everything else was within the norms.

With everything there is going to be adjustments and corrections.  As these things go, Fish Oil is a minor one to contend with.  At least I  won’t be trying to return my Zumba program for a full refund because it didn’t make me look like Tarzan in 30 days.

Day 36 – SACRIFICE!

Weight:  246 (-3)
Workout:  20 minute run, 10 minute walk, 50 Deep Knee Bends, 35 pushups, circuit
Breakfast:  Grapes, carrots
Lunch:  Tri-tip steak, red pepper (raw), half orange
Dinner:  Pork Sausage (Whole Foods Market), half red pepper, tomato, ¼ orange

I made another worthwhile sacrifice today:  I gave up my beloved Coffee Mate creamer.  If there was an FBI most wanted list of ingredients that are harmful, you will find them on the Coffee Mate creamer label.  The thing is, I never used cream in my coffee until a about 10 years ago when I went on the Atkins diet.  Starbucks offers an Atkins latte that uses heavy cream instead of milk.  Wow! I couldn’t get enough of these things!  When I failed at the Atkins diet like everybody does, I had to stop using heavy cream in my coffee and switched to milk.  Another wave of self improvement made me switch to Coffee Mate thinking it was better for me.  What did I gain by this? Nothing.  I still got the fat but added all the crap like HFCS.  So, good-bye Coffee Mate.  It’s back to milk in my coffee, for now.

It is important to point out something here about the concept of “sacrifice.”  The word sacrifice is a bad word for most of us.  It was for me for a long time.  Sacrifice denotes loss, pain and the uncomfortable feeling of having to do without.  The truth is, sacrifice should be one of those things we revisit from time to time to tweak our lives for the better.  All of us have things in our lives that need to go.  Things like unhealthy habits, gossip, lying, judgmentalism, racism, and even some people in our lives.  When any of these things become so embedded in our lives that the thought of losing them registers as a sacrifice it is time for them to go.  Sacrifice is usually not a bad thing; it is usually an uncomfortable thing that simply needs to be.  For me, Coffee Mate was one of those things.  So was Patty Cahoun in the second grade.  Oh well, what doesn’t kill you just makes you stronger. Right?

Since I have been at a plateau for a week I decided to bust out yesterday with a strenuous workout and it worked.  I lost three pounds and am now at 246.  I ran 2.5 miles, did 50 deep knee bends, 35 pushups, went back to the track and power walked another mile and then hit the weights.  I am a little sore this morning but any soreness is outweighed by the results of a breakthrough.  When I break 245 I will have passed my lowest weight in over 12 years. I hope that happens this week.

End of Day 36

Day 35 – Hormones Anyone?

Armed with my new knowledge of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and the many health dangers associated with it, I dawned my wife’s reading glasses (I couldn’t find mine) and headed to Whole Foods Market for our weekly grocery shopping. The idea was to ensure we reduced or eliminated HFCS from our family’s diet. Unfortunately, this effort opened a whole-nuther (see Oklahoma dictionary) can of worms for me.

Last week after learning about HFCS I discovered all my favorite yogurts used HFCS as a sweetener – so I tossed them. My youngest daughter told me about how much she liked Greek yogurt and suggested I try some. So, while at Whole Foods Market I went hunting for a healthy Greek yogurt to replace my HFCS laced yogurt. As I peered through my wife’s reading glasses at the various labels I noticed a statement on several of them. It read, “No significant difference has been shown between milk derived from cows treated with hormones and milk from non-treated cows.” What? What does that mean? So I looked it up and found an FDA Guidance Document claiming there is no danger in these hormones and producers are allowed to use this phrase on their products. What it really means is the yogurt makers with this statement are using milk from hormone treated cows and the others are not. More research on the subject turned up several articles contradicting the FDA findings and suggest there are health dangers associated with the controversial rBGH, IGF-1, rbST and bST hormones given to cows to increase milk production. Particularly, the rBGH and the IGF-1 hormones can cause colon, breast, and prostate cancers according to the Cancer Prevention Coalition (click here for article).

I suppose the question is how many people have to get sick or die while the FDA gives a wink and nod to food producers who put dangerous chemicals, hormones, steroids, and cancer causing substances in our food so they can squeeze every ounce of production out of every animal? And why, with so many reliable counter claims, does the FDA approve these practices? Instead of the Health and Human Services Dept. (governing agency of the FDA) arguing about who is going to get free contraceptives they should be looking into serious issues like dangerous hormones used in cows and other issues where there is solid evidence of health threats. That is why the FDA was established!

In the end I bought OIKOS Greek Blueberry yogurt and it was really, really good.

I am at yet another plateau as I weigh in anywhere between 248 and 250 depending on the day.  Perhaps I need to change up my workouts again.

As each week passes the type and quantity of food I eat changes. I would say about 60% of my food intake is meat, 20% veggies, 15% fruit, and 5% other. The only processed food I am eating now is my hormone free OIKOS yogurt. This week I am aiming at losing five pounds.

End of Day 35

Day 30 – First Month Wrap-Up

Weight:  249 (even)
Workout:  10 minutes elliptical
Breakfast:  Half banana, small hamburger patty
Lunch:  Charlies Chicken 1/4 rotisserie dark, green beans, half banana
Dinner:  Pulled pork, colored peppers fried in coconut oil, carrots

One month ago I started on the journey to lose weight and get back in shape.  In the last 30 days I have lost 21 pounds, shaped up, got my wind, and in the process discovered I have made a major lifestyle change that I hope is sustainable for the rest of my life.  But more importantly, I have learned a great deal about the Great America Diet – and it is not good.  In just 30 days I think I have just scratched the surface.  For me it is more than weight loss and fitness.  At 53, it is also about long term health.  Here is what I have achieved so far:

  • I discovered what toxins and antioxidants are and how they play a role in our health.
  • I discovered much of the meat we eat is stuffed with steroids and hormones because the meat processors and ranchers want more, faster.
  • I discovered whole grains are not as good for you as everyone wants you to think.
  • I discovered regular exercise leads to a sharper mind and may reduce my chances of contracting a brain centered disease like Alzheimer’s or Dementia.
  • I discovered high fructose corn syrup replaced natural sugar in our diets almost overnight in 1975 resulting in an onslaught of lifestyle diseases in America like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and many mental health issues.
  • I discovered common joint pain is caused by cell oxidation and toxins but can be eliminated quickly with proper diet, exercise and antioxidants.
  • My cholesterol is steady at 144.
  • My blood pressure is steady at around 100/60.
  • I feel better about myself.

The health results have been quick and sure.  I think clearer, breath better, am not plagued with seasonal allergies, emotionally more stable, sleep less, have more energy, look better, don’t suffer from joint pain anymore, more focused and eat less while feeling more satisfied.

If this is the first time reading this blog you may be wondering how I accomplished so much in such a short period of time.  It is simple.  I have adopted the paleo/primal diet, I exercise, and I take certain antioxidants.  It is so easy a caveman could do it!

As I continue I am learning more and more thanks to people like my daughter, Mandi, Mark Sisson at Mark’s Daily Apple, the Paleo Plan, Dr. Mercola and many more.  Thank you all for your esteemed wisdom and willingness to share it personally with me.

Finally, to all the super seniors at the Claremore Recreation Center I want to say I appreciate your youthful desire to hit the weights and track to stay healthy.  Yes, I like to highlight some of your moments but as a pre-senior I hope I am as alive as you are when I am your age. Click here to meet the prototypical seniors at the rec center.

Next month my goals are:

  • Lose a minimum of 15 more pounds
  • Tweak my diet to improve my healthy food intake even more
  • Incorporate sprints into my exercise plan

Also, I have enjoyed all the blogs authored by so many.  I appreciate your support, as well, and I look forward to reading about your insights and adventures in March.

God Bless!

End of Day 30!

Day 28 – Fat Kids, Fat Parents and The Fatheads Peddling Bad Health


 

 

Unless you are watching what you eat every day – I mean reading the labels and researching the products you buy for your family – you are probably on a high fructose diet.  As a result, you may be exposing yourself and your family to serious health problems including childhood obesity, mental disorders, diabetes, cancer and liver disease. The fact is, fructose is consumed either naturally from fruits and vegetables or through processed foods.  When consumed naturally the average person will consume about 15 grams of fructose. However, when consumed through processed foods the average person will consume over 70 grams a day causing serious insulin spikes that store fat, cause hunger, increase weight and lead to serious health problems, especially diabetes.  What is the conduit for high fructose in processed foods?  Corn syrup!

Corn syrup was invented in Japan in the 1960s and introduced in the US in 1975 as an inexpensive sweetener.  Of course, processed food producers and beverage makers jumped on it and began incorporating it into the American diet.  Since, lifestyle disease like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer have surpassed communicable diseases – including AIDS – in killing people.  The worst part about it?  No one is talking about the dangerous effects corn syrup has on our health.

Please watch this video from medical doctor and health researcher, Dr. Mercola.

Ever wonder why we have a problem with child obesity?  Here is a list of processed foods highest in corn syrup.

Capri-Sun Iced Tea
Capri-Sun Juice Drink – Fruit Punch
Capri-Sun Juice Drink – Grape
Capri-Sun Juice Drink – Lemonade
Capri-Sun Juice Drink – Mountain Cooler
Capri-Sun Juice Drink – Orange
Capri-Sun Juice Drink – Pacific Cooler
Capri-Sun Juice Drink – Red Berry……….. and all the rest of the Capri Sun Drinks
 
Coca-Cola
Pepsi
A&W Root Beer
PowerAde
Sprite
Tropicana Drinks
 
Kellogg’s Corn Flakes®
Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes®
Kellogg’s Smorz®
Kellogg’s Special K® Red Berries
Kellogg’s All-Bran® Bran Buds®
Kellogg’s All-Bran® Extra Fiber
Kellogg’s All-Bran® Original
Kellogg’s Apple Jacks®
Kellogg’s Cinnamon Crunch Crispix
Kellogg’s Cocoa Krispies®
Kellogg’s Complete® Oat Bran Flakes…… and about 20 more!

Post Cereals

Nabsico Chips Ahoy
Nabisco Fig Newtons

Yoplait Yogurts

Wheat Thins

Nutri-Grain® Cereal Bars Blueberry
Nutri-Grain® Cereal Bars Cherry
Nutri-Grain® Cereal Bars Mixed Berry….. Let’s just say all of em’

And all the Oscar Myer Lunchables

AND MANY, MANY MORE!

For adults, there are a plethora of foods manufactured with high corn syrup including some of the drinks at Starbucks, steak sauces, BBQ sauces, mustard, Pepperidge Farm breads, and so on, and so on.

All of these foods tax our bodies unnaturally and cause imbalances that affect our health in ways beyond just our weight.

I invite you to go to Dr. Mercola’s website and learn more about this food substance that can slowly kill you.

Since my last post I am seem to be stuck on 250 lbs probably because I haven’t worked out much since then.  Today I hit the rec center with a vengeance and did 25 minutes on the recumbent bike and the circuit concentrating on the upper body muscles.  For my meals I have eaten a banana and yogurt (not Yoplait) for breakfast, and pulled pork, carrots, and grapes for lunch.  For dinner I will be enjoying a light hamburger steak and fried veggie medley (in coconut oil) and wash it all down with water.

At this point I am really upset with being duped by companies who do not care about the health of their customers.  I have eaten this stuff all my life and now I cannot be sure what the effects will be on my health as I get older.  It really ticks me off!  Now I am even more determined to stick with a whole food diet and dump the processed foods.  Good riddins!

End of Day 28

Day 21 – Smoking Butt!

No one is ever sure what is going to come out of this blog.  Truth is, several of the posts have been a little off topic and a little personal.  So I’m sure when you saw the title of this one you probably debated whether to brave it or just let it be.  Well, rest easy.  This post is to illustrate the benefits of a whole food diet plan. The “butt” in the title is about the pork butt I smoked yesterday for my family.

Most of us have ventured into some fad diet like the Atkins diet or the South Beach diet only to quit in agony because we felt empty and hungry all the time.  I even tried a tomato and grapefruit diet years ago that made me feel like my brain was caving in.  Some of us have resorted to over the counter diet pills or shakes to help us reduce our hunger only to discover the only thing we lost was money.  Many of these diets can be unhealthy and dangerous especially for Type A personalities like me who want it all and want it now.  Everybody knows deep down inside these diets don’t work in the long term unless you make a lifestyle change.  So when I started getting serious about weight loss I wanted something I could live with for the rest of my life. My criteria were it had to be healthy, it could never leave me hungry, and it couldn’t cost more than my current food bill.

The whole food diet is simple, healthy, and cheap and it never leaves me hungry.  I eat meat, fish, egg, vegetables, fruit and nuts.  I do not eat anything with whole grains including breads, pastas, or anything breaded and fried.  There is no room for processed foods like cheese, hot dogs (although some brats and sausages are OK), or anything that comes in a package.  For breakfast I can have scrambled eggs and ham or a banana or a pear.  For lunch I like to fry up some veggies in coconut oil like peppers and onions with a little chicken mixed in.  And for dinner…

Click For a Better View

WOW! Yes life is good!

Yesterday my wife bought an eight pound pork butt to serve for a family dinner.  The pork butt is actually a part of the shoulder of the pig, not his posterior.   It is a wonderfully tasty cut of meat if it is cooked right.  The butt has to be cooked slowly for a long time to be perfect.  This butt was marinated over night in an apple cider marinate made from the recipe below.  The next morning Pam prepped the butt with the spice rub and glue before I loaded it in the smoker.

Ingredients

Marinade:

  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 1 can pineapple concentrate
  • 1/4 cup salt (non-iodized)
  • 1/8 cup paprika
  • 1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 cup white pepper
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube (dissolved in 2 tablespoons water)

Rub:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup salt (non-iodized)
  • 1/3 cup black pepper
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon hickory salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Glue:

  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 pork butt (approximately 8 pounds)

(From Food Network)

I put the butt on the smoker at 9:00 AM at a temperature of 225 – 250 degrees.  The smoker is an indirect style smoker with a separate firebox.  I used Royal Oak charcoal and hickory chunks for the smoke along with an hourly dose of soaked apple wood chips.  After five hours of smoking the butt I removed it from the smoker and tightly wrapped it in Saran Wrap and aluminum foil and placed it in the oven at 275 for another four hours.  This allows the fat to render making the meat extremely moist.  After a 15 minute rest the smoking butt was served to a hungry household.

A knife never touched the smoked butt.  The meat simply fell apart when it was pulled with a fork.  The smoke flavor was outstanding and the texture was perfect.  This butt was one of the best smoked butts I have ever had.  The rest of the meal consisted of a baked sweet potato and green beans.  I ate until I was comfortably full and very satisfied.  A few hours later I went to bed and this morning I weighed in at 253 pounds.  Although I didn’t lose any weight I am completely happy with eating so well and not gaining.

The point of this post should be obvious by now.  My worldview regarding diets and dieting changed dramatically this year.  I once believed dieting meant sacrifice and having to do without.  Now I know I can eat well and still lose weight and be healthy.  In fact, I can eat very well.  I eat anything I want as long as it is meat, fish, fruit, vegetable, egg or nuts (exceptions being some spices and cooking mixtures like the mustard and apple cider for flavor).  When you can eat like this and still lose weight, life is good!

If you are trying all the fad diets give it up.  It would be cruel to think we were created to forever be at war with ourselves over our weight.  We are biological organisms that were never intended to eat what we eat today.  Since we are all natural beings we should eat all natural food.  If done right it can be healthy, satisfying and sometimes downright awesome – like yesterday’s smoking butt!.

End of Day 20