This is Us
I title this blog “This is Us” because even though it tells my story, I don’t believe I’m alone in this story. Many people battle with food addiction and don’t even realize it.
Relationships with food can be incredibly complicated. Food plays with our emotions. Not only does it impact our physical selves, it impacts our psychological selves too.
When I was in middle school I remember another student I was good friends with that was….let’s just say a little chubby. I also knew this kid was cool and everyone enjoyed being around him. It was then I realized I didn’t care to much about weight. But….as we all know, that changed. Enter high school and abs are all the rage. All my life, I was constantly trying to figure out how to be happy with the way I looked and be able to enjoy the things I loved doing.
Since then, I've gained and lost over 100 pounds. I'll never forget my first attempt with weight loss. I was 25 and just married. We were planning a trip with friends to the beach at the end of the summer. A few of those friends and I decided on a weight loss challenge for the couple of months prior to the trip. Game on. I weighed in at 211. At 6’1” tall most would say that’s not overweight. But I carried all that extra in my belly. I looked pregnant. That’s not an insult, FYI. I just didn’t want to look pregnant. And belly fat like that is some of the worst kind. It surrounds your organs and keeps them from doing their job. I began a protocol led by dogma that included severe caloric restriction, massive will power and two hours or more a day at the gym or other exercising. Easy to do when you have a flexible work schedule, don't have kids, and there is money and bragging rights on the table. It worked, I lost 36 pounds. Weighed in at 175. Though, I didn't win the competition. Which was unfortunate because this was hard! But hey, I didn't lose entirely. I was still in great shape and lost a bunch of weight.
So how did I do it? I know I didn't give up drinking Miller Lite. Pretty sure I stuck with mostly vegetables and chicken. Lots of salads, yogurt and granola. No fast food but an emphasis on low fat and low calorie. Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing. I took “eat less and move more” to a whole new level. There was a “three day diet” that was popular that included saltine crackers and eggs. Pretty sure that was all you could eat for 3 days. Looking back now…I’d never do that.
I'll never forget that first stop on our trip the Outer Banks. My diet was over. Any and all foods were back on the table. I had a clean slate. We all went to IHOP and I felt lost. I felt like I was betraying all that I had worked for. I don't know what I ate, but I remember the feelings. And after that meal....It was game over. No more dieting. I let loose that week on all things food and drink. In a way, it was good to not stress about food. But over the next year, my weight crept back up. I couldn't sustain the work I had done to lose all that weight. Nor did I want to continue restricting the amount and kinds of food to be had. This only confirmed what I thought about losing weight was correct, that I needed to eat food that I didn't really like, be hungry, and work out a lot to lose weight.
The next attempt with weight loss came when a friend told me about this "paleo" thing. Basically a caveman diet. So I tried that, without actually looking into what paleo was. I set a goal that if I got down to 180 I could buy a pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes. My rules were simple. If a caveman could eat so could I. Well, apparently I thought cavemen could eat popcorn, salad dressing, cheese and beer. Remember, I didn’t actually look into what paleo was. But I did avoid bread and alot of added sugars. Regardless, I got to my goal weight over the course of a few months with a similar exercise load as the first go around. After I got my shoes, all progress was halted and all weight crept back.
I'm sensing a pattern. Eat whatever I want, gain weight, get frustrated at weight gain, put a reward out there for me to get, cut calories, exercise a lot, lose weight, get reward. I had several of these weight loss efforts usually lasting a few weeks and 10-15 pounds at a time. I never found anything that stuck. Why could I not maintain? Why could I not continue? I assumed it was because I lacked will power or couldn’t exercise enough. At this point I’ve got a wife, full time job, two kids and other responsibilities. A perfect situation to decide to…
….run a 77 mile ultra marathon in the summer of 2015. If I just ran a lot I could eat whatever I wanted, right? I was about 30 pounds overweight at this time. Up through August of that year I had completed about 6 marathon distance trail runs with nearly 15 half marathon distances tossed into the mix. Let alone all the single digit mileage runs. I ran right through pain and into an injury. I didn't listen to my body at all. But even after having run all those miles...I still had quite a gut on me. You could call me fit fat. Apparently all this running wasn’t really helping me lose weight at all. Not only that, after all these runs I would feel dizzy, light headed and lethargic the rest of the day. I was grumpy.
I had gotten to a point in my life where I had given up. My wife and I had children now. We both had careers we were busy with. We both had life stress. Food and exercise were the last of my worries. I wrote off ever “looking” fit again and tried to settle into this new life. At this point food was my drug. I loved craft beer and whiskey. I kept Jelly Belly jelly beans with me all the time. Jolly Time Blast o’ butter was a staple in our house. I used food to cope with life. I was still active, though. Pasta and grains were consumed daily in our house.
This is Us. I don’t think I was alone in that scenario. Life is hard. We have to eat so lets just find the easiest way to feed us and the family. We don’t need more work. There was no regard to how the standard american diet would effect us long term. Everyone else was eating the same way and health was about exercise, not food. Or so we thought.
In January of 2016, some hosts of a podcast I listened to were talking about a ketogenic diet. It’s a carbohydrate restricted diet and apparently you can lose weight FAST. I was sold. But first, I had to figure out what a carbohydrate was and once I found out that carbs were in all my favorite foods I decided it wasn't for me. I didn't want to give up my beer and candy and I thought it was fat that made you fat! But in the Spring of 2016, I knew something had to change. I was going downhill fast. I was more overweight then I’d ever been, I had no control over my eating habits, and my mental health was in decline. I lacked energy or patience for the important things of life.
So on May 9 2016 at lunch time I ate a salad, had a beer and decided the keto diet was what I was doing. I was committed from day one knowing and believing it would work. And it did, I lost about 35 pounds in 3 months with most of that coming off in the first month. I couldn’t believe it!
It wasn't long after beginning the diet I deemed myself an expert and co-created a Facebook group for others also interested in the keto diet and to this date we’ve collectively lost over 5000 pounds. The more I listened and learned from various experts on podcasts about the ketogenic way of eating, I discovered the Primal Blueprint. It closely resembled what I was doing and seemed like it was a good eating pattern that would work well for many people. I knew it was time to take my journey to another level and get some proper education on the subject. Enter the Primal Health Coach program based on the Primal Blueprint philosophy. I dove in headfirst. It was through this program that I was able to fine tune many areas that I hadn’t thought about. Like how all carbs are not created equal and not all fat is good fat. It explores ones emotional relationship with food. The program also uncovers other cogs in the wheel of health including stress management, good sleep hygiene, and relationships.
In the late summer of 2017 I completed my certification and have been continuing to share that information with others.
Whatever your goals are we will work together to help you achieve them. It would be an absolute joy to share what I know and eliminate any guess work you have about what it takes to have the health and wellness you desire. Losing weight and getting healthy take time, and time is valuable. No one wants to commit to months of effort only to be going about this journey on the wrong path, like I did many times over. Let me help you find the one that fits you, whether that's a ketogenic diet, a Primal Lifestyle, or just learning what food choices benefit you instead of hurt you. Let me help you find the pattern of health that you can commit to for a lifetime. Don’t waste any more time becoming the best you!