My Weight Loss Update & Insights So Far on Paleo Diet

October 9, 2012

This is fucking amazing (sometimes you gotta swear to get the point across). I’m losing weight, my stomach is shrinking & it’s all super easy to do.

The healthy eating part is like second nature now – like breathing, taking a shower, brushing my teeth, etc. It just happens without thinking. This is one of the greatest accomplishments in my life – seriously.

You can see my weight loss data here.

Ok now onto some of the insights.

A lot diets in the past did not work due to unrealistic expectations.

Like: lose 10lbs in a week as mentioned in the belly fat cure or lose 20lbs of fat in one month without exercising like Tim Ferriss proclaims he has done. I’m not saying they are lying – it probably works for them or for a select few or for the majority of people – I really don’t know. My experience is only my experience & weight loss for me happens at a slow & steady pace.

I’ve been fully on paleo for 9 weeks as of today. We’re talking 63 days without fries, buns, bread, rice, candy, processed food, etc. I’ve never been able to do this ever ever ever ever before in my life.

And weight loss has been slow & steady. Like grass growing. But it’s happening super easily without much effort on my part. It’s like going downhill rather than climbing a mountain. I’m excited.

A lot of diets failed because of lack of knowledge on my part.

A lot of diet books are written with catchy headlines & promise quick results – not because they are liars – but because that’s what I wanted. I wanted a shortcut. Something easy to do for a couple of months to lose weight so that I can eat whatever I wanted once I was skinny again. That was my goal – to give up carbs/junk food only til I was skinny, so I can eat them again!

Since that’s what I wanted, there were marketers who were happy to give me what I want. Except that it doesn’t work. It could work – probably for some person somewhere. But it won’t work for me.

It’s like a politician, when running for office, will paint the most optimistic best case scenario. They’re not lying. They’re giving us what we want. We want to hear only good news. We want to hear about tax cuts, 5 million jobs created, low gas prices, everything being easy for us, zero sacrifice on our part, and living in utopia. But reality is often much more boring & slow. They can’t win an election talking about reality.

99.99% of the population start a weight loss plan cutting calories & trying to exercise more. I say trying because the workout part of the diet usually fails after a few weeks.

So as you can see, having that thought as the cornerstone of losing weight in my mind meant I only looked at books that preached similar things.

But there are so many differing theories. Low calories. Low fat. Low sugar. Low carbs. High protein. High fat. Go vegetarian. Go vegan. Juice fast. Colon cleanse. Green smoothie fast.

I had to throw out all of my preexisting beliefs & start fresh. And that took a LOOOOONG time. Super long time.

It takes a long time due to two reasons. 1) My lack of wanting to do the hard work & 2) most information out there is complete garbage.

Even if I was sincere in my quest for fitness, I have to sift thru the sands to find one grain of wisdom. But if you search long enough, eventually you’ll hit gold.

Some of the books that helped increase my awareness: The Four Hour Body, The Gabriel Method, Good Calories Bad Calories & Wheat Belly.

If all you do is read just those four books, I believe you can get 90% of the necessary information to make a meaningful difference in your diet.

The basics: avoid these items
Processed food is poison (including diet sodas)
Wheat (& other grains) are poison
Sugar is poison
Dairy is not necessary
Chemicals = bad
Hormones/genetic engineering = probably bad

What to eat to lose weight:
Eat real things
Leafy greens
Most vegetables (avoid starches/legumes = corn/beans/potatoes/etc)
Fruits
Meat/Fish
Eggs
Nuts
Organic/hormone free/grass fed/cage free/etc
Drink a lot of water

Mental hacks to stay on track:
The Tools – read that book to get tools you can use right now to train your mind to do what you want it to do. I used this a lot in the beginning, not so much now.

Meditate – as much as you can. I used to do it twice a day for a couple of weeks. Now, I do this sparingly (once every 10 days) & still works. Calm mind = no cravings.

Use lightbox therapy – if you have winter blues that cue binge eating. I do 30mins everyday & will continue to do that til spring of 2013.

Try therapy, energy work and/or float tanks if you can afford it. It really helps.

You don’t necessarily have to use my mental hacks, you’ll find your own along the way. I’m just planting the seed in your mind that there are things such as “mental hacks” that you can use to tame your mind.

Supplements help body heal:
1. Probiotics – puts good bacteria back into body
2. Cod Liver Oil – omega 3’s are a must for brain health, joints, etc
3. Multivitamin – gives your body necessary things you’re not getting from your diet
4. Digestive enzymes – helps body digest the food we are eating. If we can’t break down the food & get it into our bloodstream, we are still starved for nutrition

There are probably other supplements you can take but I think these four are the essential that will get you 90% of the way. I’m no scientist. I’ve done zero of my own research other than read other smart people’s books and apply what they said .

A note about supplements:

Years of abuse eating processed food & unhealthy habits mean we have a poor digestive system. Our gut is full of good bacteria (helps us digest food) & bad bacteria (which makes us crave sugar & other poisons).

Yes, there are bad bacteria, in our fucking body, that love to eat sugary things – and it will mess with our gut signals which go back to our brain to make us want to eat more sugary things. This is real!

We can fucking destroy those little bastards by putting more good bacteria into our body to crowd out the bad ones.

I didn’t learn this until 2011, after 14 years of dieting. It was a huge epiphany. Blew my mind. Credit goes to The Four Hour Body, The Gabriel Method, and Joe Rogan Podcasts. Joe talks about the benefits of taking fish oil, probiotics, vitamins & other supplements regularly until it finally sunk into my dense mind.

Had the seeds of the idea about supplements not been planted in my mind first by The Four Hour Body, then reinforced by The Gabriel Method – I would not have paid attention to what Rogan was talking about. So, everything is connected to everything. Rogan just pushed me over the top.

The mythical world of no candy bars

Imagine if you don’t crave candy bars, potato chips, donuts, brownies, cookies & cakes. Seriously think about that – how it would feel to be indifferent about those items. You see them sitting there & not caring if you ate it or not. Actually, it’s not indifference – you actually look at them and feel a slight disgust – an icky feeling thinking of putting that into your body.

I FEEL THIS WAY NOW. And I’m super happy. I don’t feel like I’m missing out.

I feel like I’ve been unexpectedly paroled from a life sentence in food hell.

And no I’m not selling anything. I have nothing to sell you. I’m just saying that I’m finally there. It seemed like a myth, like the loch ness monster, that anyone could live without those cravings.

I usually ate out at restaurants before depending on what kind of dessert they had. Chocolate lava cake? Baklava? Gulab jamuns? Hells yes.

I used to go to gas stations late night, after being stressed with work or some other emotional turmoil, and buy twix, reese’s fast break, hershey’s cookies & cream bar, regular orange soda, regular grape soda, mrs field’s cookies (6-8) and random other things that I can pick up on my way to the cash register. I had to have my sugar fix whenever I was upset.

And laziness would never stop me. I could be too lazy to get up and walk to the bathroom to pee but when the sugar craving hit: I would automatically put on clothes, find my wallet/keys/phone, walk down the stairs to my car, start the car, drive without thinking to the gas station, automatically pick up the items above, automatically make small talk to the cashier while swiping my credit card, drive back, get back to my room, take clothes off, and eat.

Let me be repetitive & verbose here to mention that all of this was AUTOMATIC!

You know how much easier it is to get up out of bed and walk 2 feet to go to the bathroom to pee? Yet, I would hold out to do that for hours and hours until I couldn’t take it anymore.

Today is different (though I still prolong peeing!).

Now I want to eat salads, meat, eggs & the occasional pineapple & banana. That’s pretty much it. I barely eat 1-2 meals a day & I’m full most of the time. I don’t count calories. I don’t measure portion sizes. I don’t eat slow. I don’t eat snacks. I don’t eat every 2 hours.

Whenever I’m hungry, I most of the time get up and drive to chipotle for a salad bowl w/ meat + guac or get a combo of meat & salad from other fast food places (ie: portilos sausage + salad, throw out bun).

I’ve come to like the taste of raw vegetables in salad. Yes, feel free to call me a damn dirty hippy if you must – but I’m starting to love vegetables.

Or occasionally I hard boil eggs in the microwave & make some thick cut bacon on the stove. I use my keurig to make hot kombucha tea or occasionally drink dark coffee w/ stevia. But most of the time, I just drink a lot of cold water. If I crave sugary things, I eat a banana or precut pineapples I get from the grocery store.

Life is easy. No cooking. No cutting. No cleaning. No washing dishes. No obsessing. No counting.

Tim Ferriss recommends measuring your arms, waist, hips, thighs etc to figure out total inches you are losing. I tried that for a while, but it was just a bother. So I modded it to just do the only thing I really care about – smaller belly. Thus I only measure waist & weight.

I could go on writing like this & it would indulge my ego but it’ll be super boring for you to read. So let’s go on to the rest of the insights…

Paleo snacks = weight gain:

Once you go paleo & start reading these websites, you’ll notice a lot of people making & eating paleo versions of cool snacks.

Fried plantains instead of potato chips.
Sweet potato fries instead of regular fries.
Paleo friendly brownies made out of coconut, honey, cacao.
Dehydrated raw sandwich cookies made from almond butter.
Make your own paleo friendly nutrition bars via elementbars.com

I’ve done all of the above & more. Those items are healthy & probably ok for a skinny person to eat but if you’re trying to lose weight – it’s best to stay away.

Here’s what those things did to me:

Time span: 9/7/12 – 10/7/12 (weight taken sporadically, not everyday)

I usually check my weight every few days, just to reinforce to myself that things are going the way as planned. I don’t obsess over weighing myself everyday like I used to. And I only officially keep score once a week here.

I started this chart because I noticed I was gaining weight. A couple of pounds. And it was pissing me off.

But instead of flipping out, eating a whole Portillo’s chocolate cake & jumping off the diet, I remembered (from the Hacker’s Diet) that daily fluctuations in weight are misleading. I should look at the trend instead. Is my weight loss trending up, down or staying level. As long as trend is down, I’m heading in the right direction.

I looked back at the past week of data which showed weight loss, combined with current data showing gain to see what the pattern was.

So what’s the trend?

In the beginning, there was a slight bump in weight gain (random fluctuation), then there’s steady weight loss, followed by increasing rate of loss, then a culdesac, then weight creeping back up, finally dramatic weight loss.

The culdesac & weight gain happened the weeks where I ordered all of the paleo snacks.

The problem with plantain chips (only ingredients: plantains + sea salt, no chemicals) is that it’s hard to eat a little bit. One bag has 4 servings but once you open the bag and eat one chip, you’ll soon finish eating the whole bag. Then you’ll feel the craving to open another bag.

That’s how good it tastes. The texture, the nutty flavor & salty goodness are too much to handle. And has a lot of carbs! Carbs = insulin spike = weight gain.

In theory, eating plantain chips in moderation could work, I guess. But for someone like me, I can’t just eat a handful and be content – I’ll eat the whole bag.

Same goes for element bars – which is a great service by the way. You can fully customize the whole bar – using natural organic ingredients, no chemicals. So mine was made with date paste (paleo friendy), cranberries, almonds & egg white protein.

Sound healthy? The problem is each bar has 28g of SUGAR! Even healthy sugar is bad for weight gain.

And these bars are so good that I can’t just eat one. I try to resist but the craving kicks in and I end up eating 2-3 at a time. That’s 56 – 84g of sugar at once!! I know. Even semi-intelligent people like me can succumb to sugar cravings if the item is near me.

So bottom line is, paleo snacks are a slippery slope towards weight gain.

As soon as I ran out of my snacks (didn’t want to throw out since they’re expensive, justified to myself that they contain healthy ingredients + it’s better to eat this than eat processed sugary treats) and returned to my healthy eating, you can see the dramatic weight loss that happened towards the end of that chart.

Final Thoughts:

Listen, I’m only 9 weeks in. Who knows how the story is going to play out. But I’ve never been this happy with my food situation in at least 16 years (50% of my life).

And I’m finally losing weight without stress. This is a fucking miracle. Not only am I dropping pounds, the most important thing is that I’m losing inches around my belly at a fast pace! That’s the most important thing. I’m finally losing my wheat belly!

The biggest battle yet is upon me:

I’m not out of the jungle just yet. Just as I’m picking up steam in my healthy eating, we’re approaching the much dreaded fall & winter in Chicago. It reminds me of Game of Thrones where everyone talks mythically about winter approaching.

This is the most important time for me – I usually gain a buttload of weight every winter. I’ve lost that battle every year for 20 years now. But the mistake winter made is that it didn’t kill me. It kept me alive and I’m coming back with a lot more allies & weapons in my arsenal.

You know the old saying that you shouldn’t just wound a snake, you have to chop its head off – otherwise it’ll come back to bite you.

Well, I’m ready this time with all my supplements (esp cod liver oil for beating depression), therapy, float tanks, my WWE championship belt (as a reminder of greatness) & my lightbox to do another battle. This is the most important winter of my life & I expect to come out the victor by the time April 2013 rolls around.

That’s all I have to say. Keep fighting the good fight you dirty bastards!