Cool Life Transformation, I had to share. He did this on a Plant Based Diet and High Starch foods.
The Journey of a Man Who Struggles with his Weight
I’ve asked myself over and over through the years—through the decades—“What is wrong with me? Why do I have such an insatiable appetite? Is there something wrong with me physically, emotionally, or psychologically?”
I eventually learned there wasn’t anything wrong with me, but with the food I was putting into my body. I never could have imagined that something as basic as food could take complete hold of my life the way it did. But as Dr. McDougall says: “It’s the food.” I believe that now, but it took me a while to get here.
The Chubby Kid
Growing up, our meals were home-cooked and as healthy as my mother knew how to cook at the time: meat, dairy, and vegetables, as well as home-baked desserts. Growing up in war-torn Germany, my mother was determined that we would never know hunger, so feeding us well was a top priority. There was concern about my weight, but it did not surpass my mother's desire to feed us well. I don’t blame her, though. While she definitely influenced me, how she fed us was out of love and not wanting us to suffer as she did.
Being the chubby kid growing up was not easy. But over time, I accepted it even though I didn’t like it. As a teenager I watched others my age discovering the opposite sex, but I stayed on the sidelines, feeling very self-conscious about my size. By the time graduation rolled around, I was the largest kid in my class, weighing in at 260 pounds. Not a distinction I particularly enjoyed.
In my efforts to lose weight, I didn't focus on how healthy certain foods were, but would strive to just eat less food. I was a fair cook but also loved hamburgers and fries, and lots of them. And of course, I was always welcome at my mother’s table.
As an adult my weight continued to climb, and in my early twenties I found myself at 327 pounds, which scared the daylights out of me. I became very alarmed.Through dieting and exercise I managed to go from 327 pounds to 240 pounds, the lightest I had ever weighed as an adult. But no amount of starvation or exercise could get me under 240 pounds, and eventually my willpower gave way and I started to gain the weight back.
So began my up-and-down cycle of weight gain followed by intense dieting and exercise. Over time it became harder to muster my willpower, and eventually my focus turned to an effort of keeping my weight from climbing too high, too quickly. But this too would prove to be an exercise in futility.
I was obsessed with food. I always wanted more while simultaneously wanting to eat less. I tried to eat less but it was torture. I lived with a never-ending hunger and constant pain from denial. I went to bed hungry and awoke to a feeling of dread for the new day of torture before me, wondering if I could muster the willpower to get through it. But no matter how hard I tried, the weight kept adding up.
When it came to play, I chose activities that were easier for heavier people, and when it came to my job I made a point to work harder than everyone else; sure I was slower, but I'd try harder. Sometimes this made a difference, but usually it didn't. In my late thirties the scale finally tipped the 400-pound mark. At this point my body was simply too worn out to muster the exercise needed to lose weight.
The solution, according to almost every doctor I had ever visited, was weight-loss surgery. My primary care doctor, however, did encourage me to diet and exercise. But her best advice was to eat a portion-controlled diet of 1,500 calories a day using the USDA Food Pyramid as a guide. This approach would be extremely difficult for me today and even more impossible when I was overweight. Interestingly enough, my doctor is not a fan of my dietary lifestyle and has expressed a deep concern throughout my weight-loss journey that a McDougall style diet would harm me.
Every day I woke up exhausted and hurting, and would drag myself to a job I could barely do, leaving me with very little energy for things outside of work. It became impossible for me to continue working; I didn't have any fight left in me. I faced the inevitable and quit my job. However, I was only trading in one misery for another, and was now at the start of another leg of my journey through hell.
Unable to work, I had no income and was unable to support my family. I started the long process of applying for medical disability, which would take nearly four years to be approved. These were long, hard, stressful years, during which I was losing my self-worth and my dignity, and eventually would lose my marriage. I felt like I was losing everything. And still the weight kept coming.
Life at such a large size is like being in prison. Everywhere you are and everywhere you go, you take your prison with you. It is a constant struggle to remain positive and happy. But true happiness would come from being free, and that meant shedding the prison I was living in.
By the fall of 2010 I weighed 486 pounds. I needed a cane to walk, sometimes one in each hand. Just standing upright was excruciatingly painful. Being on my feet for only a few minutes would leave me in pain for hours; 20 minutes would wipe me out for the rest of the day. I knew things had to change or I would die.
But what could I do? I couldn't exercise. I knew the pain and misery of starvation dieting, and as much as I feared death, I was determined that the pain of starving myself was something I didn't have the strength to do. There had to be another way.
An Honest Look at My Food
At this point, for the first time in my life, I became willing to take an honest look at my food, and was willing to learn to eat healthier. Not eat less, mind you; I had gone down that road so many times and knew it would not take me where I needed to go. But I decided I could try to eat healthier.
Not long after this I was invited by some friends to watch a video about better health through eating a vegan diet. I was horrified! Had I known the subject matter beforehand, I probably would not have watched the video. And had they not been my friends I might have gotten up and left. But they were my friends and I made an effort to be polite.
I could not fathom life without meat. Why? Because in my mind not eating meat meant starving. Meat is what I ate to satisfy my appetite. I didn't know other foods could also do this. No—giving up meat was not an option for me. I would not do it. I could not do it.
But the doctor in the video talked about other things, such as whole grains, and he said that we can eat as many whole grains as we wanted. This struck me as something I could do. It was the positive first step I was looking for. I was adamantly opposed to giving up meat, but I managed to find something in that video I could walk away with and use.
I began to eat lots of oats and barley, and delicious homemade bread. I did not eat any less food. In fact I ate more food. So imagine my surprise when after three months of this I had lost 17 pounds. I had replaced my breakfast of high-calorie, fried and fatty foods with breakfast cereal that was far fewer in calories but far more filling.
In the three months I was eating my homemade bread and breakfast cereal, other things began happening as well. I was reading and I was learning. I watched a lot of documentaries about modern food production, and I learned how terrible our factory farms are. Quite frankly, even though I was a huge meat eater, learning how we produced most of our meat disgusted me.
One day I remember opening my freezer and seeing that it was half full of meat. This was odd. It was a new month, and it was time to go shopping, and the freezer should have been nearly empty. This was my first “Eureka!” moment. Without realizing it, and without intending to, and most importantly, without even missing it, I had been eating less meat.
Not long after this I was talking with some friends and the subject of my new interest in diet and weight loss came up. I shared with them what I had learned and the direction I was headed, and one of them asked me if I'd ever heard of Dr. John McDougall. I hadn't. I went home and Googled him. I found his website and watched his video about the Starch Solution, and it was while watching that video that everything came together in my head. My lifetime of eating and its results suddenly made sense to me. More importantly, the path to better health was—for the first time in my life—laid out before me so clearly, and made perfect sense.
I was still eating a lot of dairy, processed foods, fat and oil. I feared that eliminating these things from my diet would be asking too much and would be too sudden. I feared I would fail, and I could not afford to fail. I didn’t think I could give dairy up entirely and decided I'd experiment by consuming less of it. My biggest concern about giving up the fat and oil was learning how to cook without them. But similarly, I reasoned I could cut my intake in half.
Weight Loss without Starvation
I don't have to explain to anyone familiar with the McDougall diet what happened next. The weight started to drop off even faster, and my energy increased, I felt better overall, and I noticed my digestion was the best it had been in many years. I was thrilled—I was losing weight without starving myself! Now I woke up every morning looking forward to the day, not dreading it.
My meat consumption was rapidly approaching zero. It turned out that giving up meat was not a big deal; I only held on to it because I didn’t believe I could satisfy my appetite without it. Once I learned that I could satisfy my appetite better, longer, and on fewer calories by eating starches, the writing was on the wall as far as meat was concerned. Fats and oils weren't far behind. I was soon down to using only small amounts of fats and oils, only what was necessary to cook with. And in time I learned how to cook without them. Processed foods were hard to give up. But I learned that they do not satisfy the appetite nearly as well as whole foods.
Today I proudly eat a very simple diet centered on whole-food starches such as rice, oats, barley, potatoes, squashes, and beans of all kinds. I've lost nearly 300 pounds and have no problem maintaining my weight.
In addition to the weight loss, I have made great improvements in other areas of my health. I no longer take any prescription medication (which cost me in the tens of thousands of dollars every year). My blood pressure is normal for the first time in my adult life, and my sleep apnea is improved to the point where I no longer require the use of a CPAP machine. I also enjoy walking, biking, and yoga.
Since going through such an extreme weight loss, I am often asked by people I know how I did it. They think what I've achieved is some super-human feat and are eager to talk about it. This is until I tell them that it was a matter of changing what I ate, and that anyone could do it. This is where their interest usually ends. Upon hearing that “it’s the food,” they start to get scared because then they would need to look at themselves; and people don't like to do that. They are quite willing to talk about my success but don't want to talk about their own issues. I understand, as I used to be there, too. But I hope I can plant some seeds of inspiration and information going forward to those who are open to listening.
My transition to this lifestyle was slow and methodical. I made changes I could live with at the time. I made the easy changes first, which gave me successes to build on and confidence to make harder changes. The hardest changes I tackled one at a time, with great focus, and from a position of as much strength as possible.
Thank you Dr. McDougall! The Starch Solution has saved my life!