Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Eating Right for the Health of It

When I was a kid the perfect night out with my family included eating at Pancho’s Mexican Buffett. I only imagine that the spread awaiting us in heaven will include tacos, flautas and sopapillas with butter, just like Pancho’s had when I was a kid.

My family would probably eat at Pancho’s once a month or so. I pretty much ordered the same thing every time: tacos, flautas, beans and rice with no sauce on the rice. We would take our chairs at the table, spend a few minutes eating and then raise the flag to get a head start on getting our seconds and thirds and fourths.

You can probably imagine I like food, since I talk about it quite a bit in this space. I like Mexican food, Italian food, southern food, Chinese food and cheeseburgers. About the only food I don’t really care for is Canadian food and anything from North Dakota.

Another one of my favorites is Twinkies. I talk about those delicious treats a lot too. I don’t eat them nearly as much as I did when I was a kid (Sometimes it was the perfect way to top off a meal from Pancho’s), but I still walk down the Twinkie aisle with fond memories.

Like many of you, I was able to eat all of this stuff when I was a kid with no ill effects. My daily caloric intake during my teenage years was probably around 5,000 to 6,000 calories.
For breakfast I would  usually stop by the convenience store for a Hostess cherry pie and a Mountain Dew.

At lunch I would usually pound a big meal from the school cafeteria, including seconds and sometimes thirds.

After school I would stop by for a chicken strip basket with fries and a bowl of ice cream, while washing it down with sweet ice tea.

Dinner was either another cheeseburger and more fries or maybe a whole box of Hamburger Helper. I ate that way all the time.

When I graduated from high school, I weighed about 190 pounds. After my stint in Army basic training, I got back down to about 185 and was probably in the best shape of my life.

Then it started to go downhill.

By the 1990s, the little numbers on the scale would creep up real nice and steady like. The combination of my diet, which included the same diet as my teenage years, and my exercise regimen, which included walking to the bathroom, kitchen and to my car, was taking a toll on my life. 

In 1996, I had enough and decided to start running a little bit. I ran short distances at first, but it soon expanded. I was almost at about three miles a day and had lost about 30 pounds when I hurt my ankle. The injury sidelined me for a few weeks. When I recovered I started running again. For about a week.

Then I just quit.

Then came the 2000s. My weight started creeping up again. I had a form of arthritis that wouldn’t leave me alone. My doctor started poking me, prescribing pills and probing me in the most intimate of places. It was getting nasty.

Last Thanksgiving I reached a tipping point. My arthritis kicked in and swelled my knee leaving me on crutches for several weeks. I decided to make a change.

I found a book called “The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet” by Robb Wolf (buy it here). Wolf tells how our ancestors ate thousands of years ago during the Paleolithic Era and before the introduction of grain into our diets. We pretty much ate meat, vegetables, fruits and nuts. In addition to a good diet, human bodies run best with a little exercise, plenty of sleep, some exposure to the sun and by having just a little bit of fun.

That was it. I could do that.

The first month I lost 15 pounds or so. The second month more weight loss. Since I started the plan in early December, I’ve dropped about 50 pounds. I added muscle. I have more energy. I have fewer aches and pains. My hair is healthier. My skin is clearer. I feel happier. And I look good naked. Well, at least I think I do.

My wife started our new lifestyle together in Decebmer. She’s also lost about 40 pounds and more than 40 inches.

I’ve been looking for ways to rediscover my youth. I needed to get back my energy level, my sense of joy and a sense of purpose in life. I needed to rediscover my life.

Eating right was one of the keys to my happier life.

I found out the stuff we put into our bodies causes more than just obesity. Our diets cause problems like diabetes, depression, auto-immune deficiencies, gastrointestinal ailments, allergic reactions and so many other things. We truly are what we eat.

If you need your life back, maybe it’s time to start looking at your diet. It worked for me. Too bad it took me 25 years or so to figure that out. I guess I’m a slow learner. Probably something I ate.

To read more of Rodney Hays’ humor, follow him on Twitter and become a friend on Facebook.

1 comment:

Nancy Moll said...

So happy to read your article on healthy eating. A resident of Prosper, I have been following the Paleo lifestyle for 1 1/2 years and give Paleo nutrition talks once a month at Crossfit McKinney. My blog, PaleoPorVida.wordpress.com, has many great recipes which make eating the Paleo way even more fun! People following the Paleo lifestyle become passionate about it and want to share it with everyone they know. Thanks so much for sharing your story.