That’s what I told myself one morning as I looked in the mirror and stepped out of the shower. I remember it as clearly as if it were this morning. I wanted to cry. The big guy looking back at me in the mirror looked old, tired, and completely out of shape. I didn’t recognize him. The eyes were there; the same eyes I’ve looked at since I was a kid. But the rest of the guy was someone else completely.
I had to make a change.
But with what I knew at the time, I didn’t think there was any way I could make the changes necessary to help me lose weight. With the education I received from public schools, the military, and all the ad campaigns through the years telling us how to lose weight and get fit, I was left a fat and unfit guy in his late 40’s with no prospect of making a meaningful impact on my unhealthy weight.
I was taught, “Low-fat! Eat more grains! Calories in/calories out! Get more exercise!” I tried all those things, and they all failed. Miserably. Each time I lost weight, I would eventually fall off the wagon and regain the weight I lost and then some. None of these “Sure fire” methods were working for me. Something was wrong with me; I was convinced of it.
So, I had resigned myself to an early death due to my unhealthy weight. I figured there was no use in fighting it any longer. I just didn’t have the energy to do it anymore. And then I learned about Whole30, the Paleo Diet, and the low-carb/high-fat diets.
That’s when everything changed.
When my cousin Sarah, a physician assistant, told me that I could lose weight and get healthy just by changing my diet and without exercise, I was skeptical. But, she told me what she did and how much weight she lost and how much healthier she was, and I have to say, the evidence was compelling. I trust her, so I decided to look into it some more. The more I read, the more I found that maybe there was something to this low-carb/high-fat diet, and that it would be worth giving it a shot. Sure, I’d have to give up some of my favorite foods, but I’d still get to eat other favorites, so what did I have to lose besides some weight?
A year later, I found myself 110 lbs lighter and starting to run as I began the process to enlist into the National Guard. Throughout the process of losing weight, I felt like somehow I had unlocked a cheat code to life (Cheat codes are codes used in computer games to allow you to make fast/easy/immediate without doing a bunch of work). I literally felt like I had hacked life. How else could I explain eating bacon and eggs for breakfast, sausage and veggies for lunch, and steak or ribs or pulled pork or lobster and veggies for dinner every now, never experiencing cravings between meals, and still losing weight steadily? What’s more, is that my health had improved remarkably. I was no longer diabetic, no longer had fatty liver disease, numbness in my feet had gone away, circulation in my feet improved, and my blood tests repeatedly came back normal. All because I changed my diet (and nothing more).
I want to say it again: All I did was change my diet.
Some people say that low-carb/high-fat diets are restrictive. They are, by definition, restrictive of sugar. That includes any source of sugar, whether that’s grains or certain fruits. So yes; these diets are restrictive, but they are not restrictive in a way that also restricts you to certain foods. As someone who follows the Paleo Diet, I avoid anything with added sugar, grains, legumes, soy, and alcohol. I can eat literally anything else, and there is more I can eat than I cannot.
Most people worry that being on a low-carb/high-fat diet means they can’t eat tasty and enjoyable foods. Well, they couldn’t be more wrong! I eat some of the tastiest, and most incredible food I’ve had in my life since going Paleo! My wife has made it her mission to find new and exciting, delicious foods for us to eat so we never get bored eating the same things over and over again. The downside is that I often have to lobby pretty hard to get her to repeat dishes that I really like. The Chipotle-Chorizo Meatloaf is a dish I could eat forever!
I wish I could go back into time and give myself the low-carb/high-fat talk when I was 24. It would have saved me a lifetime of difficulty with my weight, and would have kept me far healthier than I was. It would have allowed me to do so much more physically, and to really enjoy more outdoors with my kids.
You don’t have to live fat anymore. You don’t have to feel helpless. There are diets out there that you can adopt long-term that allow you to eat delicious foods that you make (no need to buy a subscription or packages of foods) and that fill you up and keep you from getting between-meal cravings. Look up Whole30, the Paleo Diet, Keto, low-carb/high-fat, or Atkins. Any of these will really, honestly, and truly go a long way to getting you healthy, and as a bonus side-effect, will help you lose weight.