This is my coming out of the diet closet…
The first article. I guess it is only appropriate to explain the reason for this blog (if you will take the time and read it), and how I got here. So instead of bantering, I’ll just get right to it.
My entire childhood I was always kind of chubby. At the time, it wasn’t a big deal. I wasn’t wildly overweight and I was growing. So nobody thought much about it. No red flag went up with the fact that my mother’s side of the family had always been overweight (so much so that in recent years, my aunt had gastric bypass surgery to help with her weight issues). My problems with weight didn’t get better until I hit puberty and at the same time I took up breakdancing. That was a pretty large part of my life and I did it almost every day. So I would say I was very active during those years. My weight problems seemed to go away. I am not sure if it was my growth spurts or if it was more of that fact that I was very active. Perhaps it was both. A couple years into high school, I was at my leanest. I was 5′ 6″ (the same height I am now) and weighed about 135lbs. This may seem light but that is considered healthy for my height and body type.
Well, life changed. I became less active as my passion for dancing slowly slipped away in my last couple of years of high school. I wouldn’t say I overate or even ever been guilty of “emotional eating”. But within a year, I managed to gain upwards of 20 pounds. Now, it is important to note that I wasn’t completely sedentary. I just wasn’t spending 1-2 hours a day doing acrobatic and high intensity movements anymore. It was more like 1-2 hours every week or so. I tried eating a bit less and exercising. I tried aerobic exercise, weight training, and high intensity interval training (HIIT). Not much seemed to work. Before I knew it, I was border lining 155lbs with little to no lean muscle mass.
In my pursuit to find out what could be going on and to educate myself on nutrition and training, I spent countless hours online. I was jumping from forum to forum and reading article after article. Everything I came across was something I’ve already tried or just seemed completely dangerous (800 cal diets).
It wasn’t until I happened upon some writings by a man, named Dr. Gregory Ellis. Desperate, I picked up his book “Ultimate Diet Secrets.” The name and shoddily make cover itself made me embarrassed enough to hide it in my bedroom. But what I read in that book peaked my interest quite a bit. I felt so empowered with all of this info that I tried to have an intelligent conversation with my friend who was studying to go to college for nutrition. When I said things like “fat is the primary fuel source for your body”, he looked at me funny and said something like, “That goes against everything I’ve been taught about nutrition. Science says that your body prefers carbohydrates for fuel.” Well I was a little disheartened that I didn’t have a good rebuttal. I jumped the gun. Before talking to my friend, I had felt like I knew everything there is to know based on reading the book. But instead of just hanging my head down low and giving up on the ideas in this book, I knew there was something there. I just didn’t understand all of the science in the book just yet. And yes, in case you were wondering, Gregory referenced plenty of real studies. It wasn’t just a “miracle diet” book. It was surprisingly academic to a degree.
I tried to take a casual approach to the diet guidelines outlined in the book. I didn’t see much progress at all, but I knew it was because I couldn’t really be too picky about what I ate. After all, I was still dependent on my parents and school lunches. So after just a few weeks, I gave up.
Jump to college, there I was freshman year going into sophomore year. I stood the same height as I was early in high school. But I now weighed over 165lbs. I was weaker. I had lost a lot of muscle mass over the years and gained a lot of fat. Based on what I know now, I was probably 4o pounds of fat overweight. People (and if you know me personally, perhaps you as well) would have never guessed. I wore big clothing and people thought I was skinny. But I assure you, I was not. But to that day, something about Gregory’s book stuck with me. I had still been researching and finding out more about this diet. And more and more I realized how little I knew. I wanted to see if it was healthy, if there were healthier alternatives, what the pros and cons are of this diet vs others. On the surface, the diet seemed to come out on the bottom. High amounts of fat intake, high sodium intake, just all bad news. But the more I looked into it, the more I realized that this isn’t just a diet that would help me lose weight, but would actually improve my health in general across the board. I then started exploring more of the science behind the diet, getting really nerdy and reading as many studies as I could find and get access to. What were the processes and metabolic pathways? What hormones are at play? Very nitty gritty science.
Finally I took the plunge and did the diet with stricter guidelines than my first attempt. And the pounds started coming off. I still wasn’t losing as fast as I wanted. So I hit the research even more. And I did the diet almost flawlessly while exercising. Before I knew it, I was down to 135lbs once again and had gained more strength than I’ve ever had. I was even approved for the top tier rate for life insurance based on my health profile (including cholesterol profiles).
All the while, not many people at all knew about what I was doing for food. The fact that during that time I had graduated from college and started freelancing and working from home allowed me to hide my eating habits. I always thought people would judge me for what I was eating. But people noticed that I looked great and asked what I was doing. A few times I told the complete truth and was met with a bit of resistance to the idea of eating so much dietary fat. I was told “You should be careful with that. Your body needs carbs. And watch out for that Atkin’s diet. All of that saturated fat is deadly.” So I started telling people a slightly different story. I told them “Oh, I’m just eating less refined sugar and eating more protein” (which is only partially true). Clearly, there were some social aspects at play here.
2010, Vegas happened. It was on a contract job with a bunch of people my age. It was 8 days, everything paid for. Even the drinks. I figured, I could use a vacation. This diet is tough. Plus, it would be unfair for me to be that guy who can’t eat anything at the places everyone wants to go. Well, my old eating habits came back. And right after Vegas, I visited my brother in florida with my mother and siblings. So that 8 day vacation turned into something a lot longer. During that span, I didn’t gain too much weight. The issue was that I lost my will power to keep the diet up. Every week I told myself, “OK I’ll start it up again next week.” But life got tough and work got rough. No rest for the weary. The thought of making a lifelong commitment during those days seemed… daunting.
The weight came back on. Slowly but surely. Within a year, I was back up to my high weight. During that time, I knew how I needed to eat. I still spent my free time nerding out on studies and articles on the subject matter. But I couldn’t commit to it at the time for many reasons. Social reasons, monetary reasons, and restrictions with time among other reasons (or shall I say “excuses”). The diet is the furthest thing from convenient these days.
Where I Am Now
Jump to 2012. Here I am 3000 miles from where I grew up. Fresh start. Back on the diet and this time I am more well equipped with knowledge than ever. Three months (not a lot of exercise at all this time) and 25 pounds down. Nerding out on the science more than ever. And this huge Paleo movement (the diet is very similar to Paleo) going on recently is making me seem less like a crazy asian man. Something in me clicked a few weeks ago, and I decided no more beating around the bush. No more lying about what my actual diet is. I now know enough to have a rebuttal to just about every argument against this diet. I know enough that I am actually confident enough to say that this is the way everyone SHOULD eat. Not just those that are overweight. I know enough to make the crazy bold claim that this way of eating will prevent heart disease along with other horrible diseases while what everyone else says is healthy is actually what is killing you.
If you’ve been keeping up with my Facebook page recently, you will see just how obsessive I am about this stuff. Enough to prick my finger for blood every 30 minutes just to know more about what is going on. So this blog is my attempt to educate and convince at least 2 people that this is how humans should eat. Hands down. Maybe those 2 people will tell two others. And maybe we can save lives here.
This is my coming out of the diet closet. And I’m ready to defend my stance.
[Hit the comments below and let me know you are still here with me Let's get some conversations going!]