Jonathan Chandler Webb
My Health Journey Part 5

One of the biggest aspects of this health journey has been the ability to recognize which foods are bothering me and which are giving me fuel. Before I started this, I felt bad after almost every meal. I had no energy and fell right into the trap of trying to find quick fixes to boost that energy. A soda, some candy, a candy bar were all options for me to stave off that afternoon nap. What do you think happens when you eat or drink things with tons of sugar? We can all stand up and shout the answer…YOU CRASH! Sure, you may have some moments of energy and fire away on your afternoon work emails, but that goes away very fast. Then what happens? You head to the break room to find another quick fix. And on and on the cycle goes.

Here’s where I’m at right now. I don’t get hungry in terms of those intense, stomach growling hunger pains that used to bother me. When you work through the diet I described in Part 3 your body starts to transition from a sugar burning machine into a fat burning machine. And this is where you want to live!

People a lot smarter than me have written tons of material on eating good fats and staying away from the processed foods that are full of sugar. I’ll give you a few suggestions below as these are some of my favorites and ones that are sitting on my book shelf:

Fat for Fuel – Dr. Joseph Mercola

Headstrong – Dave Asprey

The Keto Reset Diet – Mark Sisson

There are also numerous podcasts out there as well, some of them hosted by these guys above, that spend a great deal of time discussing diet and burning fat instead of sugar. Bulletproof Radio and The Doctor’s Farmacy are two of my favorites.

When my body started burning fat I could literally feel the difference inside. Those crazy hunger pains were gone, I could go much longer in between meals (we’ll get into that in an upcoming post), and I was no longer craving candy and soda. It was as if my body completely switched to a different operating mode…because it did!!

You see that silly picture up there? That’s just me having some fun on a recent trip to New York. But, if you’ve been following this series (and if you haven’t get to it!! Haha! I’ll link to the other posts at the bottom) you will remember my picture from Part 1 in which I’m wearing a large shirt and sort of resting my arms on my belly. At that moment I weighed almost 200 pounds (195 to be exact). In the above picture from New York I am wearing a medium shirt and weighing in at a crisp 167. Look how flat my stomach is in the picture!

I share that to just keep it real…I am proud of the hard work I put into this change. I want you to experience the same thing. We are too reliant on bad foods in our diet and it is slowly killing us. We are tired, crabby, and not sleeping well. We get out of breath when we walk upstairs, our clothes don’t fit anymore, and we are losing any sense of self confidence we had before.

All of that, all of it, was me. I am not judging or trying to shame, I’m talking about myself here. And since I’m no longer that person I want to celebrate. And, I want to bring others with me! I could go into 1,000 – 5,000 word essays on the food industry, the American diet, and all that stuff and maybe one day I will. But it honestly doesn’t matter what those jokers do, we can choose to eat differently. I used to pull into McDonald’s but now I just bring some water from home or stop by the juice/smoothie place. Or I could just not eat at all.

So, if you get anything out of this hear this…it takes work but you can do it! Stay tuned for more…

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

 

 

Good food, no sugar and now we are rolling! I really wish I had taken pictures with my shirt off to see the progress but you’ll have to trust me…my body was changing. Plus, I’m not sure I’m willing to put a shirtless picture of myself on the internet these days. Haha!

After 1 week on the diet I described in Part 3, I was down 5 pounds. After 1 month I was down about 12 pounds. But as I’ve mentioned before, I wasn’t just concerned with my weight. I wanted to feel better, to have more energy, and to change my eating habits. I accomplished all of the above and then some!

That guy right there? That’s my granddad, Thomas Webb Sr. I never met him as he passed away before I was born. Why am I showing you a picture of my granddad? Was he some health guru? No, he was probably a normal dude in his day with how he ate and lived. I am showing you his picture because for me this whole thing is about legacy.

We hear people talk about changing their family tree in terms of finances, education, and career tracks. I don’t hear as much conversation about changing our family tree in terms of diet and healthy living. My granddad left a name I can be proud of, a legacy of service and of caring for others. I honor that and cherish the fact that I can hold my head high as a Webb. I want to do the same thing to my family in terms of health.

You see, as the weeks wore on with this diet the hardest thing wasn’t finding the right foods to eat. Its quite easy to order a side salad instead of french fries in terms of that being an option. Its quite challenging to actually want to order a side salad instead of french fries. That side salad got ordered because this thing is much bigger than me.

I touched on this a little bit in Part 1 but want to continue to talk about it because its that important. You need a why…a reason that you are doing this or you will get stuck. Its hard to completely change the way you eat, to change the way you see food, to go against a lot of the ‘common knowledge’ that is out there without a strong sense of purpose. The times when I was sick and tired of eating broccoli were the times I leaned on that purpose. The times when I wanted french fries and a piece of cake are the times I would look at my kids and remember why I was doing this.

You have to identify those things if you are going to push through those moments when it gets challenging. I can take you to the grocery store right now and show you things to buy that can replace what you are currently eating. But, you have to want to do that. You do. You need to make a choice, a decision that you want to improve your health. And when you make that decision, you must have something there that keeps you going.

I didn’t want to get healthy and change my lifestyle so I’d look good with my shirt off. Ok, that will definitely be a perk and make the swimming pool more fun but seriously, its a bigger issue than that. In the next post we’ll continue to talk about my diet and journey but I wanted to spend a few moments on the legacy piece. Thanks for reading and we’ll talk again real soon!

 

In Part 1 I talked about my ‘why’ for doing this. Those reasons alone were enough for me to explore the options and decide to jump on this train. In that process I decided that I could do anything for 3 months. That is only 90 days and 90 days in the grand scheme of things is minimal. So, I called my friend Matt and got started on his program. He gave me an eating plan and an opportunity to really see how food was impacting my life.

Now that I was working on kicking sugar to the curb I had to deal with another love of mine. Bread. Yummy, delicious, bread. You see, I grew up in Tennessee where it is a state law that rolls must be served at dinner (lunch) and supper (dinner). Like, we had bread at every meal. I can remember those ham and cheese sandwiches with mayo where the loaf bread was so soft it would stick to the roof of my mouth while I was eating. Anyone else remember those? So good.

So, what exactly did I eat? I eliminated bread, I eliminated sugar, I eliminated beans, I eliminated rice. Gone, gone, gone, gone. I replaced those things with veggies like broccoli and cauliflower (which I couldn’t stand before this diet). I added brussels sprouts. I ate almonds. I started to love macadamia nuts. Essentially, I was replacing carb heavy foods with higher fat foods. Avocados became a staple in my diet. I also started cooking with avocado oil, getting that extra fat.

For 2 weeks, I ate 3 meals a day without any snacking. Here’s an example of a day for me as I started this process. Also, check out Matt’s program for more detailed information if you are interested.

  • Breakfast – Eggs (cooked in avocado oil with butter), an avocado, and bacon. The amounts differed each day depending on my hunger but I ate until I was full
  • Lunch – 4-5 ounces of a fatty protein, some nuts of some kind, and tons of veggies! That’s not specific I know but think about having 3 to 4 handfuls of leafy greens, cruciferous veggies. I would also add some olive oil on my leafy greens for added fat.
  • Dinner – 4-5 ounces of a fatty protein, adding oil and butter as I’m cooking for the added fat. Same as lunch with the veggies and nuts.

Again, my friend Matt really breaks all of this down and has a ton of information and knowledge so I encourage you to check it out.

Ok, so the hard part for me was not snacking. I had to ‘train’ my body to not crave food all the time. Its harder than it sounds. I learned that its ok to not eat, its ok for my body to go through a fasting period (more on that in future posts). Does this sound hard? Does it sound easy?

So to recap, for 2 weeks I ate a form of the above example every day. What I can tell you even though everyone’s body is different is that I stopped being hungry for dinner around day 4. It was an amazing transformation. My energy level increased and I was sleeping better. But the most noticeable improvement was in my joints and throughout my body. I stopped being sore. Without sugar the inflammation was gone.

Food is powerful and the needed fuel for our bodies. Through all of this the key is to pay attention to how you feel when you eat. You shouldn’t be tired, you shouldn’t be drowsy after you eat. That would be my main point in all of this…pay attention to what you are eating. It takes more time, forces you to read and do more research, and will change your grocery shopping habits. But it is so worth it!

 

 

In Part 1 I introduced the problem and mentioned a few reasons why I needed to start improving my health. This is going to be a much shorter post because once I did that the weight magically fell off and I felt better in like a week. Haha! You don’t believe that I know but sometimes we start a process like this thinking it will be smooth and easy because its the right thing to do. Honestly, the right thing to do is often the hardest in my experience. Doesn’t make it bad and that doesn’t (sorry for the double negatives) mean you should quit. It just means we need to be ready for what its going to take to reach our goals.

In order for me to lose this weight and improve my health I knew I needed help. This is an important point I don’t want you to miss…find someone you can work with or at least a friend who will hold you accountable. I had support at home but I needed more. I needed men who would push me, ask hard questions, and hold me accountable. It is extremely hard to drive by a McDonald’s, want to stop and go in, and not have someone you can call and help talk you out of it.

That person for me was Matt. You will here more about him throughout this series but he is a great friend and also a fitness coach. I won’t embarrass Matt too much here but he was one of the first people I reached out to for help. The other was another great friend, Michael, who was also on a fitness journey of his own. I couldn’t have done this without those two men. These two men provided a much needed support system when the going got tough.

I talk about anchors a lot in my writing and when I speak and here is why…anchors ground you and keep you from being tossed around. In eating and physical fitness, we need anchors to keep us steady and focused. The first anchor I put down involved sugar. You see, I had a problem. I didn’t get to 195 by accident, well maybe a little, but I made choices along the way that took me there. Let me tell you a story.

There was this guy who felt the need to always have something to drink while he was driving a car. It didn’t matter if he was driving from the house to the grocery store or if he was driving for 4 hours, a drink had to be purchased and consumed. So this handsome, very cool guy pulled into gas station after gas station. He bought hundreds of 32 ounce sodas. Do you know how much sugar is in that much soda?

There are 65 grams of sugar in a 20 ounce. 65 grams. That information is straight from Coca-Cola’s website.

So, I was getting more than 65 grams of sugar every time I threw down my 79 cents for that drink. Now, there is a lot of conflicting information on how much sugar you should have in a day but no one recommends that much. And the worst part is what’s in these drinks is not even real sugar, its high fructose corn syrup. Gross! Oh, did I mention that at times I drank more than one of these in a day?

After talking with Matt and after he sent me a food program to try, I knew I had to stop consuming sugar. Cold turkey. I will dive into the diet in the next post but for 3 months, I didn’t even eat fruit. I wanted as far away from sugar as possible.

I experienced sweating, shaking, and significant withdrawal symptoms when my body did not have sugar. I had never experienced those type of feelings before and was shocked at how my body reacted. What was I putting in my body that would cause this reaction when it wasn’t consumed? My relationship with sugar would never be the same.

We’ll dive into the diet a little more in the next post as well as some more insight into the mental aspects of this journey. Thanks for tuning in and we’ll see you in a few days!

 

The Road

The reality of any journey is how difficult it can be from time to time. As you have seen in my previous two posts, I had some significant disappointments along the way. But, as the years become greater in-between those moments and now, I see things in a much different light.

Look at this picture above, it’s a simple road that all of us have traveled. When we are on the road, we often can’t see very far in front of us, only the things that are around our present location. You can make out some trees ahead, a few hills or mountains, but that is the extent of what is seen. This is an interesting thought when we look at our lives in a similar way.

I can look back and see where the Lord was working in my life, what He was doing to get me to the place I am today, but not while I was in the middle of it. Similarly, I am unable to look ahead to 40 and see what may be in store for me and my family. All I can do is seek guidance from the Lord, my family, and those whom I trust that have been down a similar road before.

The hurt I felt when I was rejected by all the law schools in which I applied is still there. I remember getting each of those letters and how, after the second one I knew the rest would also contain a no. I remember applying for a job as a bank teller, having an interview, getting the phone call that I wasn’t hired, and wondering what was wrong with me. Ever been there? It is not a fun place to be but how I learned from those experiences!

I honestly believe the journey through those pains have made me a better husband, a better father, and a better person. While I don’t wish pain and hurt on anyone, sometimes they can be the best learning experience. They have taught me the value of not giving up, reaching out to others for help, and not being so quick to judge people who may be in tough spots. Each of these are areas I have struggled with in the past and it took me going through a rough patch in my own life to grow.

The one image that continually comes to mind as I think back on my own journey is my son. He was born while I was unemployed. As any parent will tell you, there is not a worse feeling in the world than feeling like you are unable to provide for and take care of your family. Ever have a moment in your life when you thought things couldn’t get any worse? This was it for me. Fortunately, the Lord provided an opportunity and while I would rather not go through something like that again, I am thankful for what I learned.

We will always be learning and the heart of these posts is to recognize those moments and grow as a person. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments about times in your life that while difficult, have been some of the best learning experiences for you. It is always helpful to go through these times together and learn from one another so I look forward to hearing from all of you on this journey.

When my dream didn’t go the way I expected, I shut down and tried to move on. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, it didn’t go away at all. In fact it got stronger and more intense. As I mentioned in the previous post, my dream was all about me and what I was going to accomplish. During this period of despair the Lord quickly showed me my passions and dreams were given to me to help others.

Often we move on once a dream or goal doesn’t go the way we planned. I believe this is the best part and the opportunity for us to really grow as a person and perhaps be led in an entirely new direction. Or, simply find reassurance that we are on the right track. Jeff Goins writes in The In-Between that we are missing out on life when we continually look to and wait on the next big thing to happen.

When my law school dream died it didn’t take away my plans at all, it just moved them. Will I be a lawyer or a judge? No. But, I have learned a tremendous amount about myself and what I want to do with my career and life at this point. I believe there is a lot to add to the field of public policy and I have not given up the overall dream I had so many years ago.

Now, where am I on this journey today? I am completing my Masters in Public Policy. I am currently writing my thesis and hope to complete it and graduate by late spring, early summer of 2014. You see, I wasn’t ready for law school or the added workload it would have required. How often do we think we are ready for something when in reality we need a few more years of experience, a few more years of maturing, or just a few more years of figuring things out? I am a firm believer in things happening for a reason. I don’t believe in luck or concidences.

Is there a time in your life when you waited and waited and nothing happened? What did you do in the meantime? I was not as productive during my years of waiting as I would have liked, but I still learned a great deal from my experience.

But for now, be encouraged! You are where you are for a reason. You may not be able to see it or understand all that is going on but hang on. I don’t say that as a simple line to sound cheesy, I really mean it and am there myself. Ask others you trust to let you know that they see in you: talents, skills, experiences. You may be surprised at where you are and where you are going. Looking forward to where the journey leads for all of us!

 

Ever since I was a little boy I have had a passion, love, whatever word you want to use, for politics. Can you believe that? Most of the time when I tell people that they give me that look that says, ‘really?’ It is a weird thing to like, I admit, and often times the conversations involving politics can cause anger and frustration. So, I have a passion for something that most people hate talking about. Fun, huh?

Anyway, through that desire I mapped out a plan of action that would take me where I wanted to be as a grown up. First, I would major in Political Science, attend law school, practice law for 10 years, get appointed as a judge, serve as judge for 10 years, launch my political career sometime in my early 50s, and end with being the Governor of Tennessee. Of course, all along that path I would involve myself in campaigns, committees, etc. to make myself visable. Sounds like a great plan right?

I accomplished the first one with a B.A. degree in Political Science. Alright, well on my way to my goals! Unfortunately, at least for now, that’s where the dream ended. My LSAT score was low, I was declined admission to all the schools in which I applied, and was left with no opportunity to attend law school. Definitely disappointed and felt lost.

Now, does this mean these dreams of mine are gone forever? Does this mean I was chasing the wrong thing? Not necessarily and all of you reading this have stories of your own similar to mine. What do we do when our dreams come to a halt or aren’t fulfilled the way we expect? Do we give up? Well, I did for a long time. I shut that part of my life down and moved on in an attempt to forget what had happened. What I missed during that giving up phase was a lot of growth and opportunities to learn from the experience.

I have learned so much, including the reality that my passion for politics and policy has not gone away. As much as I tried to shut it down and hide it, it is still there and as strong as ever. Does that mean I still want to run for office? Maybe, but what I have learned is the Lord has shifted my focus away from myself and onto helping others through those passions. If you look back at the top of this post, my dream was all about me and how successful I could be. As this series continues I’ll dive deeper into this and where I am now on this journey.

Have you ever had a dream end? Not turn out the way you expected? Let us know in the comments below…

Recently, my 5-year old son began talking about what he wanted to be when he grew up. It is the usual from a boy that age: fireman, police officer, astronaut. One day while discussing his plans to be a police officer as well as a tennis player, he turned to me and said, “Dad, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I’m 36 years old, how do I answer that question?

I gave a funny answer and laughed about it and continued to listen to him talk about his dreams and plans as only a 5-year old can do. However, that question struck a nerve in me that has lingered even now, weeks after he asked it. What do I want to be when I grow up?

Many of us are traveling through life simply reacting to the daily routine. We wake up, go to work, eat, spend time with family, sleep, and do it all over again the next day. Sure there are some great moments and many of us have a job we love, but are we truly living? We get caught up in ‘being a grown up’ when we’d much rather be doing something else with our lives.

I have been unemployed, have worked jobs just to pay the bills, and failed miserably at an attempt to enter a career field I desperately wanted to pursue. All of those moments have helped shape and mold me into the man I am today and moved me down the road toward the answer to my son’s question. It is a question I have been afraid to answer for fear of where it could lead. Ever have one of those moments? You know, a moment where you know what the answer is but are afraid to say it because it may sound ridiculous to those around you? May even sound ridiculous to yourself?

So, what do you want to be when you grow up? Is it too late? I used to believe that after 30 you needed to be in your career of choice or you would never make it. I am sure you know how wrong that is but that doesn’t stop us from believing it from time to time. In fact, I sometimes think about dreams I have and plans with the phrase, ‘it would be great to be ____ or have ____ by the time I am 40.’ Well, that is 4 long years away. But, instead of looking at the amount of time left to accomplish those goals and dreams I think, ‘that can’t happen by then, there is not enough time.’

Have you ever been where I am? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section. I’ll continue my story in the coming posts and hopefully encourage you as I travel down this road.