Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Life in South Korea

I arrived in S. Korea on Jan 23, 2013. I am sorry for taking so long to update the blog my friends, but I tell you, I did not expect my life to radically change so fast again! These 2 months have been a whirlwind of activity. The way of life here is so completely different from America. It is not for everyone that is for sure, but I have embraced it and am enjoying living here immensely!

A lot has changed and happened within my personal life since getting here. My wife came ahead of me and by the time I arrived, she had radically changed and grown as a person. It has not been easy, but we are closer now than ever before, and we are moving forward in life again. The turmoil of my personal life has effected my goals and progress greatly, however it has not stopped them!

Calorie counting here is close to impossible. Eating out is much more prevalent so you have no idea what is what and sometimes do not even know what it is your eating all together! Not being able to read labels also does not bode well for the calorie cautious. This being the case I have had to rely heavily on portion control and common sense.  I also have not been working out regularly since I arrived. This is due to whatever excuse you want to insert here.

On the flip side though; My diet has drastically changed for the better! I can actually tell a difference in how I feel after being here a few weeks and not eating American food. I actually feel better. I immediately fell in love with Korean cuisine and took to exploring different restaurants to find new and exciting things to eat that are healthy for me.  The next step would be to recreate the dish I had at home. This has proved a challenge due to the language barrier, but I have been fairly successful in teaching myself to make quite a few dishes. Learning to make the different soups and sauces has been something I am fairly proud of.

Diet Change:
We do not eat bread almost ever. Rice and noodles, both rice and buckwheat noodles, have replaced most of the traditional American starches in our diet. Seafood is plentiful and fresh here as are many vegetables like cabbage, onions, and many different varieties of mushrooms. We used to be mainly meat and bread or potato kind of eaters. Now we limit our startches, eat lots of vegetables and hearty soups.  Chili sauces have also become a big part of my cooking. Koreans freaken love thier food spicy. Not, mexican kinda spicy, but holyshitwtfdidijustputinmymouthiamgoingtodieneedwaterasap, kinda spicy.

A nice surprise for me was that there is also a large Turkish culinary presence here as well.  I have fallen in love with Turkish kabobs and food. Kabobs come in three varieties, chicken, lamb, or a mix. There is this giant vertical spit of meat rotating in front of a infrared heater. They slice off a few pieces as they heat up a tortilla or gyro. A traditional kabob has, you guessed it, a spicy chili sauce spread on first, then the meat, then a healthy portion of shredded lettuce, sliced onion that is marinated somehow, tomatoes, and thin sliced pickles. This monster of a sandwich is only 4000 WAN (less than $4us) and is simply scrumptious!

The night life here is crazy. It seems every major metro area has something similar to Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Soju is cheap, and in my opinion, better than anything you can get state wise as a mixer. If you stick to 20 to 24% soju, you can literally mix it into anything and never taste it. Soju also has this reputation of sneaking up on even the most seasoned drinkers and putting them squarely on their face. A night out wont break the bank and there are an endless number of clubs, bars and cafes to explore.

So by now you have to be wondering: how has the last two months of chaos effected my goal?
I have actually LOST five more pounds landing me at 250lbs. More impressive to me though is that I am now 6 to 8 inches slimmer!! Down from a 44/46 waist pant to a 38! I never thought I would see myself in pants less than 44 ever again.

So what now?
 Knowing that I have not boned myself these last two months has given me a boost of confidence and I am getting back into the swing of things in regards to moving myself forward and loosing the next 50 pounds. I will continue to make healthy choices in regards to what I eat, when I eat and how much I eat. I am restarting my workout regiment but I want to add in laps in the pool as well.

Summer is fast approaching. While I do not think this summer will see my shirtless, my goal is to be shirtless by next summer. Staying active, making healthy eating choices, and continuing to exercise will get my there. I am happier than I have been in many years and I look better than I have in many years as well.

Never give up hope! Remember; small, accomplishable, goals lead to larger goals being completed. Focus on what you CAN do, and get out there and do it!

As always, I love hearing from you guys. Feel free to PM me, leave comments, visit me on google+ or Facebook, and help support Healthy Vets on Facebook!

Monday, January 21, 2013

What a crazy week!

This last week has been completely Insane. I never imagined just how much it would take to get everything done to move to Korea. But today is the day! In 8 hours I will arrive at the airport and go to Korea.

It has been impossible to keep any semblance of my normal schedule. From having my house put into PODS to all the travel and now staying with family, it just has not been conducive to my workout routine. Now, while I may not have been able to work out, I was able to watch what and how much I ate.

This proved harder than I though it would be too though. This being the last week in America for at least a year, if not several, I have wanted and have been bombarded with all of my favorite foods.

Food is a social centerpiece in my family.
I have no idea when I may eat any of this again. So, While I have myself a pass to eat just about anything for meals, I did not just jump off the wagon and go crazy. I still stuck to water and unsweetened tea. I watched my portions. I still tried to stay under my BMR for the day.

End result? By allowing myself to enjoy time with family that I won't see for up to 4 years, but still maintaining the basics of my diet, I only gained 1 pound this week.

That's a number I am ok with. Next week, I get back to my core diet and working out. However, I will have a partner now! My amazing and beautiful wife will be joining me on this journey and restarting her own.

By setting small goals I was able to deal with and handle a week of disruption and family saying goodbye without sacrificing my efforts or progress. I still feel great about myself and all that I have accomplished and I am looking forward to getting back on my routine and continuing forward with my goal to loose 100 pounds!

Keep setting small goals! Stay positive! Do SOMETHING! You CAN live a healthy life without it taking over the rest of your life and you can do it no matter what situation you are in!

As I get settled into Korea I will get back to more regular updates.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Moving to Korea!

Today is final packing day. Tomorrow the POD arrives and my house gets loaded up for storage. While I will miss this beautiful house, I am so very ready to leave OK behind. It is almost impossible to fit workouts into the schedule this week so it will be even more Important to make healthy choices with meals.

Travel always seems to be a big challenge when you are regulation your calorie intake. Many restaurants do not list calories for menu items. Eating on the go also tents to mean fast food or processed food.

With proper planning though; much of that headache can be mitigated. Make sure to pack enough healthy snacks for long drives. Have plenty of water or other no calorie drinks. Remember to try and stay away from artificially sweetened drinks.

Don't kill yourself for going over your calorie goal during the trip. But do stay under your BMI. That way you make break your weight loss goal a day or two, but you didn't over indulge and won't be packing on more weight.

Just because you may be forced into eating fast food, it does not mean you can not still make healthy choices. Pick the salad over the Bigmac or triple quarter pounder. Apples over fries.

Stick to your plan, continue setting small goals and set yourself up for success!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Week 2 Weigh-in: Stick to the Plan!

Week 1 vs Week 2 weight tickets
The results are in, and it looks good! 5.6 pounds overall lost. BMI is down 0.8 and my overall obesity level is down 3.5%!

What went into this weeks results?

Continued calorie counting using MyFitnessPal app, Continued P90X training (modified to fit my disabilities), and just being active throughout the day now due to increased energy levels and an improvement in mental attitude.

I can not stress enough how much my mental state has changed and become so much more positive due to an improved feeling of self worth and self image. Not only am I improving my body, but my mental state as well. It is an amazing feeling to feel good about one's self again.

I would like to note that just because I am very strictly monitoring my calorie intake, that does not mean I am not eating a balanced diet and being healthy about it. Make sure you get proper levels of each food group. make healthier choices when you plan your meals though. Use whole grains, wheat pasta, fruits in a low sugar syrup, and so forth.

               Just because you are being healthy does NOT mean you have to give up taste!

Spices and herbs can add a lot of flavor to food without adding calories. If you like spicy, remember, most hot sauces are 0 calories!

What about in between meals?

I personally like pickles and lean meat slices. Clausen pickles are 5 calories per spear! Depending on the type and size of slices, deli meats can be low calorie as well. In my case, 4 slices of ham equals 50 calories. This makes for a great snack. Also, delmonti fruit cups are 50 calories each. Also a great snack.

As the weight comes off, you start feeling better about yourself, and your energy levels come up, you will start being more active throughout your day. This will result in passively burning more calories depending of course on what your doing. But trust me, just being up and about doing SOMETHING is better than sitting inside and doing nothing!

Let me know how your fitness plan is coming along. Whats your progress? having trouble with something? Leave a comment or send me a message! Also don't forget to visit and support Healthy Vets on Facebook!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Staying on Target

Staying on Target with your plan and goals can be a real challenge sometimes. Life likes to mix things up and it can be hard to balance it all together. My house is in boxes at the moment as I get ready to have it all put into a POD next week. Finding the drive and motivation to continue working out in the midst of moving has proven a challenge for me this week. Next week will not be any easier as I leave almost everything behind and go to Florida for 3 days to see family before getting on a plane on the 21st and going to Korea for the next year.

While that is my biggest hassle right now, it is also my motivation. I want to look good when I get to Osan AFB and see my wife. I want her to see the changes I have worked so hard for and to be proud of me. My integrity is on the line in my mind. So I continue to get up and work out and I stick to my calorie goals. Tomorrow is weigh in day! I am excited to see the progress I have made this week and to hopefully be under 260lbs!

The point? Life will always hand you curve balls and test your limits. Stay true to yourself and remember: Small victories. Make a plan, break the end goal down into smaller attainable goals so as to set yourself up for success. This small victories add up to larger ones that pave the way to your end goal. As long as you take i one piece at a time, you can be successful and do it without stressing yourself out!

Keep positive and make healthy choices!

Don't forget to visit Healthy Vets and give them a like on Facebook!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Just do "something"

For many people with disabilities, or whom have completely given up hope, or whom have lost control of their weight control; the simple act of just doing "something" can have a monumental impact on their life.

I will use myself as a case in point here. I was pushing 300 lbs. I had given up hope of ever being under 200lbs and feeling sexy or even good about myself again. That depressed the hell out of me. It effected my marriage the most. To the point that I have almost lost the love of my life.

The simple, yet hardest, act of my life was simply doing SOMETHING! That something for me was changing how I ate first. Over the course of 5 weeks I cut portion sizes. I went from eating 3-6 times what a normal person ate per meal to 1. That was no easy feat. Those first few weeks sucked hard. But my body responded quickly. I started eating more frequently. From 2-3 times a day to 5 or 6. The difference was I was eating much, much smaller meals and snacks.

I then decided to weigh myself to see if I had even made a difference. To my surprise I had lost 14lbs! Now, most of that was stored bile waste in the intestines, but it resulted in one of the biggest paradigm shifts in my life.

Suddenly I thought "You CAN do this!" "You can loose the weight, you can make this happen even with a messed up leg and busted joints."

And thus started this journey. Now into week 2 of adding exercise, I feel better than I have in years. The way I look at myself is completely different. I am able to love myself and because of that, those around me. I am a happier person.

It does not matter what your something is. Make a point to just do something beyond your normal. Start small with something you can reasonably accomplish. Relish in your small victories because they start adding up to larger victories that build a path of success to your end goal.

Have a great day people! Don't forget to check out Healthy Vets on Facebook and give them a like.
Also, please leave comments. I would love to hear your stories or answer your questions.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Artificial Sweeteners: How they can be counter productive to your goals

Today I would like to hit on the importance of natural foods in our diet. Most important to me in this regard are eliminating artificial sweeteners from my diet.

"But, artificial sweeteners are good for me and allow me to eat and drink things with zero calories! It must be healthier!" you say.

While there is some benefit from the use of artificial sweeteners to combat obesity and diabetes, long term they can fundamentally change the way the brain registers sweets and actually achieve the opposite affect than that which was intended.

"How so?" you ask.

When we put something sweet into our mouths, it signals the brain with a checksum. The brain registers sweets incoming and because it associates sweets with calories which equal fuel, it is set to process them and limit their intake to reasonable amounts. Now when that sweetness hits our stomachs, the stomach sends a second checksum to the brain confirming the intake of sweets and also how much fuel or calories was received. The brain figures out how much is enough and either tells us MORE or to stop. So to illustrate this exchange:

Mouth to Brain: "Hey, we have sweet calories incoming, get ready."
Brain to Mouth: "Rodger that, prepping for incoming calories."
Stomach to Brain: "Sweets received, Calorie report is as follows: X calories delivered. How to proceed?
Brain to Stomach: "Direct X calories to Y parts of the body, store X calories in reserve (fat)."
Brain to Mouth: "Continue consuming sweets." or "No more sweets, needs met."

Now, when we start introducing artificial sweetener to this process, this start to go wrong.

The brain sees the sweets incoming. The stomach reports them as received, but now the stomach is reporting no calories. Over time the brain starts to associate sweets as no longer a calorie source and the body's natural limitations on our intake for sweets are fundamentally changed.

"But Nathan, how does this affect me?"

When your body stops associating sweets as a calorie vessel, it also stops naturally limiting our intake of sweet foods. Sweeteners seem to stimulate parts of the brain that produce pleasurable effects without stimulating those parts that make people feel full. Now that the brain no longer limits sweets due to caloric intake, the gates are set wide open.

So the next time we go to eat foods without artificial sweeteners, or even ones with them, the body stops telling us when enough is enough and we tend to over indulge in something that is not good for us. That bag of oreo's, chips, cookies, ice cream, soda, etc, etc. This unconsciously builds unhealthy habits of over eating over long periods of time.

It takes making conscious choices and actively watching and counting what we eat to change the habits we have developed  over the years. It was the hardest thing for me to do personally. I was taught to clean my plate and not leave left overs as a child. I love the taste of what I eat. By recognizing how my body works, I was able to change how it responded to what I was feeding it and it also allowed me to change how I fueled my body.

It has been 5 weeks since I started changing not only what I ate, but HOW I ate it. With a solid plan, small obtainable goals that lead to and end result, I have been able to set myself up for success and so can you!

If anyone has questions please feel free to comment. If you would like help setting up a plan and goals to meet your life style, leave a comment or contact me through Google+ or

Various sources for this information and additional information about artificial sweeteners: