My Simple Six-Step Strategy For Healthy Weight Loss

Like many people, I have struggled to maintain a healthy body weight throughout much of my life.  For years I was on a weight loss roller coaster, experimenting with one diet after another.  Then, four years ago, I discovered a strategy that helped me loose over 80lbs and maintain a healthy body weight with relative ease.

My strategy is a result of trial and error, using tips and tools taken from a variety of diets that I have tried over the years.  It is influenced considerably by a paleolithic diet approach to eating and has similarities to Tim Ferris’ popular Slow Carb Diet.

This strategy is more than a way to shed excess body fat.  It also helps rebuild your body with the nutrients it needs to become stronger and healthier.  It’s the same strategy I followed to prepare for two Ironman triathlons.

It’s a simple approach and it works.

My simple six-step strategy for healthy weight loss:

Step 1: Listen, don’t measure
I believe that listening to your body is the most important factor for healthy weight loss.  That’s why I don’t recommend measuring.  8oz of protein per meal may be too much for one person but too little for another.  Cookie cutter approaches may work for some people, but they don’t work for most of us because we all have different needs.

Listen to your body.  If you’re hungry, eat.  If you’re not hungry, don’t eat.  Our bodies require varying amounts of food at varying times of the day depending on our activity levels.

When you do eat, don’t gorge.  Use a small plate or bowl and eat small portions.  If you’re still hungry after you’ve eaten, have seconds. An old Japanese saying—Hara hachi bunme—instructs people to stop eating when you are 80 percent full.  This is an excellent reminder to listen to your body and avoid overeating.

Step 2: Eliminate gluten
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye oats and barley.  Despite being one of the most common foods in a modern western diet, it is also one of the worst for our health.  Gluten creates inflammation in our bodies, unbalances our hormone levels, contributes to unhealthy body weight and can result in significant health issues.  While people with Celiac disease are most sensitive to gluten, it affects everyone’s health in a negative way.

An explanation of how gluten affects your health would require more space than I have in this post, but I encourage your to read further.  Robb Wolf’s book, The Paleo Solution, provides the most comprehensive and scientifically backed explanation on the subject that I have found.  You can also find an excellent excerpt from Robb’s book here at Tim Ferris’ blog.

Yes, I know that gluten is found in bread, cakes, cookies and a long list of other items that taste great, but it’s also destroying your health slowly.  Don’t believe me?  Try it out.  For the next 30 days eliminate gluten from your diet, then refer to step 1 of this post and listen to your body.  When I first eliminated gluten from my diet it took only three days before I saw significant changes in my energy levels, complexion and quality of sleep, to name but a few of the benefits.

I should note that dairy and other grains such as corn and rice have similar, but less problematic effects than gluten.  Listen to your body and decide if they should be a part of your healthy diet.

Step 3: Eat protein at every meal
Protein is essential to life.  Without it, we will die.  Carbohydrates on the other hand are not essential to life.  I make this point to underscore the importance of protein in your diet.

Whether it comes from animal or plant sources, it is important to have protein with every meal or snack.  Not only is protein an essential building block for our bodies, it discourages overeating and helps us to feel satiated for longer periods of time.

When choosing animal proteins I encourage you to consider grass fed and organic sources.  Not only are they healthier for you, they are also a more humane and environmentally friendly alternative.

Step 4: Eat vegetables at every meal
Vegetables provide an incredible number of vitamins and minerals to help build a healthy body. Choose a variety of bright and colorful veggies to eat at your meals throughout the week.  It’s virtually impossible to gain unhealthy weight by eating too many veggies, so load them on to your plate.

One word of caution… Potatoes can be packed with goodness, but they also rank very high on the glycemic index and contain a high number of calories.  Because of this combination, you should eat potatoes in moderation.

Step 5: Eat fruit in moderation
Fruits contain a number of vitamins and minerals that benefit our health, but similar to potatoes they are also high GI foods and can be high in calories.  Try to eat fruits early in the day and in moderation.

Step 6: Don’t drink your calories
Soda, energy drinks and fruit juice all contain a high number of calories with little to no nutritional benefit.  Avoid them if you want to maximize weight loss.

Of course it should come as no surprise that the best thing you can drink is water.  If you want more flavorful beverages, try unsweetened tea or coffee.  Vegetable juice can also be a good option, but remember that while it may be convenient, it is still not as nutritious as eating whole vegetables.

That’s it, my simple six-step strategy to healthy weight loss.

You’ll notice that I haven’t recommended any exercise as part of this strategy.  I highly recommend that you make exercise a regular part of your life, but it isn’t necessary for weight loss.  As I said in my recent post on strategies to get your exercise program back on track, it’s best to focus on one life change at a time.  If exercise is currently part of your life, keep it up.  If not, focus first on this strategy for healthy weight loss and then add exercise into your life at a later date.

An opportunity
This past winter I gained 20lbs.  I could give you a long list of excuses why, but the truth is that I made poor food choices and stopped following my plan.  Instead of becoming discouraged by this setback, I have chosen to view it as an opportunity to regain a healthier approach to eating.

Over the next 30 days I will journal about my weight loss here at Stop & Breathe.  I will follow my strategy outlined below and will hold myself accountable to those of you who are interested in following along in the comments section.

This is also an opportunity for you.  If you’re unhappy with your weight, I challenge you to join me for the next 30 days and regain control of your diet.  Skeptical about whether or not this can work for you?  Just try it.  It’s only 30 days.  What do you have to loose… other than weight?

What’s that?  You say it’s not a good time?  It’s never a good time.  I have used that excuse over and over again.  I have told myself that I’ll start eating well tomorrow, or that I’ll eat poorly just this one last time because I’m celebrating a special occasion.  Well, tomorrow came and went and there was always something to celebrate.

My wife is due to give birth to our first child tomorrow.  I can’t think of a more inconvenient time in my life to start a challenge of this kind, but I am. If you want to make a change, now’s the time.

You may also be interested in reading 20 Tips and Tricks to Fast Track Healthy Weight Loss.

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59 Comments

  1. Jason’s update – Day 1
    Weight: 212.6lbs
    Stomach measurement: 44inches (around belly button)

    Today is day 1 and I’m excited to get started and regain control over my diet. I wasn’t thrilled to see the numbers on my scale and measuring tape this morning, but at least I know they’ll be going down if I stick to my plan.

  2. Julia Beatty |

    Jason –
    the article is inspiring… and I need inspiration.
    I am going to read it again, and slowly.
    Then read up on gluten.
    Maybe I will give it a go.
    Thanks.

  3. Julia Beatty |

    Oh – and good luck tomorrow !
    Try and sleep long today and as much as you can.
    Once Baby Billows arrives the party is over.

  4. Thanks for reading, Julia.

    Definitely check out the link to Robb’s excerpt on Tim Ferris’ site. It’s quite eye opening.

  5. Following a relatively paleo diet is not a bad way to go. Just a comment however, that carbs ARE essential to life. The brain runs on glucose- and glucose is broken down from carbohydrates. Without this our bodies will go into ketosis. However, most people have way to many carbs, or get them from poor sources. Fruits and berries are a great source of complex carbs, as are ancient grains. My whole philosophy with diet is that extreme anything will get you nowhere so I applaud your well rounded process. Each person is unique so what works well differs from person to person. Some people thrive on a paleo diet, some on a blood type diet. The answer, for me, is that there is no answer. 🙂

    • Hey Kandis.

      Thanks for the comment.

      My note regarding carbs not being essential to life was referenced from Robb’s book The Paleo Solution and Lorren Cordain’s work among other sources. Their work does recognize the fact that glucose is necessary and most commonly comes from carbs, however if carbs are not present the amino-acids from proteins are converted to glucose, resulting in ketosis. So, through ketosis the brain still gets the glucose it needs, making carbs unnecessary.

      I don’t think living carb free is a healthy choice. My comment was made simply to point out the importance of protein, because as you noted, people generally have too many carbs in their diets.

      I’ll look into it further and will certainly edit my post if necessary. I love learning more about these topics and appreciate the dialogue, so please keep commenting and sharing info or sources.

      Thanks!Hey Kandis.

      Thanks for the comment.

      My note regarding carbs not being essential to life was referenced from Robb’s book The Paleo Solution and Lorren Cordain’s work among other sources. Their work does recognize the fact that glucose is necessary and most commonly comes from carbs, however if carbs are not present the amino-acids from proteins are converted to glucose, resulting in ketosis. So, through ketosis the brain still gets the glucose it needs, making carbs unnecessary.

      I don’t think living carb free is a healthy choice. My comment was made simply to point out the importance of protein, because as you noted, people generally have too many carbs in their diets.

      I’ll look into it further and will certainly edit my post if necessary. I love learning more about these topics and appreciate the dialogue, so please keep commenting and sharing info or sources.

      Thanks!

  6. Jason, this is very cool. Good for you. I love your tips. They make complete sense to me too (except the meat part but I can get protein elsewhere) so I’m with you for the next 30 days. I need to lose 20 lbs too and I’ve just begun an inspirational new series on my blog towards wellness. This is the perfect accompaniment because I haven’t yet addressed food (my big “issue”) In fact, I think I’ll link to your post as a (non-vegan) resource next week. Your plan resonates with everything I’ve read too and your first tip of listening is brilliant (tips on mindful eating would be most appreciated). Phew, I’m excited to have read this, this Sunday morning (I was half expecting a baby announcement but I guess Friday was a false alarm?)
    I’m on board, my friend.
    Cheers and happy eating well, Katie

    • Katie,

      Thanks for the kind words. I’m thrilled that you’ll be joining me for the next 30 days.

      I think you make a great point that you can get your protein from non-animal sources. I think the important thing is to listen to your body and consider what foods (animal or veggie), your body responds to best.

      A mindful eating post is planned for the near future, so keep you eyes posted.

      For other readers, I’d highly recommend that you visit Katie’s blog at http://www.momentumgathering.com Katie’s blog is written in a refreshingly unique voice and is packed with inspiration.

  7. Jason’s update – Day 2
    Weight: 209lbs (3.6lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 43.75inches (.25 inches lost to date)

    I liked the numbers I saw this morning. 🙂 I’m not really surprised though. Following this strategy in the past I have usually seen a quick loss at the beginning. I expect much of it is excess water weight and my body flushing away some of the nasty stuff that had built up in my body.

    The transition to eating according to my strategy was a smooth one. I felt full all day long and had some yummy good, including phenomenal eggs scrambled with sundried tomatoes, onions, spinach, mushrooms and garlic.

  8. Hello Stop&Breather’s

    Jason introduced me to ‘eating clean’ or the Paleo Diet over a year ago. I have been following a paleothic diet for three weeks, journaling about the experience each day. With the renewed motivation of this blog, I hope to share some of my experience.

    Through my own research I found a complimentary site to the works of Robb Wolf. http://www.whole9life.com work closely with Robb and adopt the same type of ‘swagger’ in their approach to nutrition and lifestyle. They recently put up a post on the importance of a silent morning as well as a plethora of healthy recipes. I encourage everyone to check them out as they spread the good word about REAL FOOD

  9. Great to see you here, Stu.

    I have been so impressed with the lifestyle changes you made over the past couple of years and the results you achieved. I hope you’ll join in here regularly.

    Thanks for sharing the Whole 9 Life link. Looks like they are a great resource.

  10. Jason’s update – Day 3
    Weight: 209lbs (3.6lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 43.75inches (.25 inches lost to date)

    Same numbers as yesterday. Not worried. It’s the long term trend I’m looking for, not day to day reductions.

    Great day yesterday. Went for brunch and was tempted to eat poorly, but stuck to my plan and asked for some substitutions to the meal I ordered. It tasted great! Eating out doesn’t have to be unhealthy and tasteless.

  11. Almost 4 pounds in three days. Wow.

    I’m with you and Katie, Jason! Your story is inspirational to me, as I have a lot of weight to lose, over 60 pounds… which could be 70 pounds to get down to a really ideal weight.

    I struggle with making the right choices and it’s good to know I have two bloggers to check out when I need some serious inspiration. What you mentioned about liquid calories and gluten are spot on. When I do have the will power to completely eliminate liquid calories (all coming from Dr. Pepper) and gluten, the weight flies off. I just seem to get stuck in a holding pattern of doing really good for a month, losing some weight, and then gaining it all back. This is my year for decluttering my body! Thanks for sharing this Jason.

    • Tanja, I’m so glad you stopped by and took the time to comment. Thank you!

      As you say, when you make the right choices the weight can fly off. It sounds as if you’re very much like me…. we know what to do, but that damn food or drink tastes soooooo good.

      My solution has been to find alternatives to the stuff I really like. I have a big sweet tooth, so I keep dates in the fridge and frozen grapes in the freezer. When I need a sweet fix I suck on one of those. They’re still pretty high GI and high in calories, but a little goes a long way. It’s also nice to put something natural into my body vs. a process hunk of sugar like.

      There are some cherry flavored soda waters that I discovered at my local grocery store. See if there is something similar in your area. They’re not the same as Dr. Pepper, but they do have that cherry taste that could help, while avoiding the artificial sweeteners and sugars.

  12. Hi Jason,

    Great post, great timing. I’m coming out of a long slow and quite stressful winter (Spring will be too. Stressful, that is) and SO ready to make diet changes. I generally know what good healthy food is but have to say I never thought about ditching the wheat. And you say that’s a major factor in weight gain? For that alone I’ll join you for the 30 days because you’ve got me really curious!

    I must be listening to my head, not my body, because it tells me I NEED sugar every day. That’s my downfall. I know I don’t eat enough protein (so not enough) and have read that can trigger sugar cravings. Haven’t thought to eat it at every meal and snack. Wow, this will be a challenge.

    Keep talking about the kinds of meals and food you are eating. That helps this non-foodie with ideas. If I can’t think of something healthy to eat, I just eat whatever is on hand or skip it altogether. 🙂

    I’d like to lose 10 pounds in 30 days, but more than that, I’d love to have more energy and just feel lighter and toned overall. I’ll be adding walking and strengthening exercises too, when time permits.

    And yes, you are right Jason, there is no good time! I know!

    • Debbie, I’m so glad you’ll be joining me for this challenge. I hope you’ll comment on your progress throughout the challenge. Having someone to support you and to be accountable to really helps.

      I love what you said about knowing what good food is. I think that if we listen to ourselves we intuitively know what is good for us and what our bodies want. The challenge is making your inner voice louder than all the marketing we see and hear from food companies.

      You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel without gluten. Once you kick the wheat, I’d urge you to try eliminating all grains from your diet, including rice and quinoa. They don’t have gluten, but they do have similar proteins that can irritate our gut and cause a number of issues. Once eliminated, you can then introduce them back into your diet on the odd occasion. Some people can eat them every few days without issue, some every couple of weeks and some not at all. Again, it’s important to listen to your body.

      I’ll be sure to keep commenting on the meals I’m eating and will be doing some posts in the near future with more tips and hints.

      Let’s do this! 🙂

  13. Jason’s update – Day 4
    Weight: 209lbs (3.6lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 43.5 inches (.5 inches lost to date)

    No change in weight today, but my stomach measurement is down another .5 of an inch. I’m feeling lighter in my step and already noticing the benefits of no gluten after just four days. The big difference for me is that I’m less congested, which tends to be a common reaction to gluten for many people.

    My diet yesterday included only healthy foods, but probably a little too high in calories. I’m not counting, but I’m sure that’s the case as I had rice twice yesterday and it contains a high number of calories with very little nutritional benefit.

    If you want to speed up weight loss, try eliminating grains all together. Eat just veggies (no potatoes) and meat for few days and you’ll see how quick the weight will start coming off.

  14. I have done 40-days of Paleo before my current commitment to long term clean eating. Your tastes will change dramatically.

    I never had much of a sweet tooth growing up, but as the third week drew near I ONLY craved sugar. Sugar in beverages, candy, ect. One important factor when trying to cut out processed food and foods high in sugar (same reaction to the brain – spike insulin) SLEEP is of utmost importance. Using some of Jason’s tips for a restful night’s sleep the rest will begin to fall into place.

    Sleep ensures we maintain the right mental balance. A massive part of eating habits comes from media, social norms and our own habits. To be successful we want to hear those signals loud and clear. Sleep is the key to balancing those messages to the brain (hormones into balance)

    People have critiqued the Paleo approach as it is too strict. I am a believer in doing the diet EXTREMELY strictly without monitoring portions for a full thirty days. I believe this because you are trying to RESET your bodies receptors to certain foods. You cannot be 100% strict all the time… but to know what your body does not react well to it takes some time.. and slowly reintroducing things to pinpoint what it is exactly.

    My daily food intake will be posted later tonight

  15. Today is my first day, so I weighted in and measured my waist. Took a look through my cupboards and all I saw was wheat! So I decided for the duration of this project that I would take it all out and pack it up… out of sight out of mind right?. My cupboards are almost bare, I kid you not!

    I’m a little worried about what to eat to sustain me. I ate 2 eggs and 2 turkey sausages for breakfast and feel hungry now. And as I write this I realize it’s lunch time here, so I guess that makes sense.

    Hopefully this project can help me stay on track to eat regularly. I tend to put off eating in favor of whatever I’m doing at the time and suffer later.

    • That’s a great idea to get all of the wheat products out of sight.

      You’ll find that protein will keep you feeling full for longer periods of time than processed carbs. Still try to eat lots of good carbs though. I love to grill up a bunch of veggies at the beginning of the week and use them throughout the week. I love grilled red peppers. 🙂

      I’m looking forward to reading more about your progress. You’re off to a great start.

  16. Jason’s update – Day 5
    Weight: 208.4lbs (4.2lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 43.5inches (.5 inches lost to date)

    Down a little over a half pound. Small, but consistent downward trend is just what I want.

    Feeling great overall. I’m noticing more of a change. I’m feeling a lot less bloated these days and my face already looks a little slimmer. I think that’s because the inflammation is reducing now that I’m avoiding gluten.

  17. Stu’s Food Log: Day 21

    Lots of Water when waking up
    Banana, Blueberry, Strawberry Protein Shake Post Workout

    Snack
    2 slices turkey
    6 block almonds (fresh from health food store…mmmmm)
    Handful of Grapes

    Snack

    Thin slice of Roast Beef
    Shot of Fish Oil
    Dried Cranberries
    More almonds

    Dinner
    Beet Salad with Lettuce Base
    tsp Oil/Vinegar dressing
    small portion sweet potatoe
    Double portion of Asparagus
    Breast and a half of Chicken

    Comments: Had alot of almonds today…probably more than I wrote down and definately more than I usually eat.. When they come fresh from the health food store they are delicious. I need to substitute for a few more veggies as snacks (peppers, cucumber, celery ect) in favour of the dried berries which pack a ton of sweet power. Got a great tip of Watermelon laced with Cinnamon for a sweet substitute. Pretty good day

    • Stu, looks like some good eatin’. 🙂 Who says healthy isn’t tasty.

      Have you tried freezing your grapes and having them as snacks? They’re still high GI, but when frozen they get sweeter (I think freezing does something to the sugars) and when you suck on them they last longer, helping you to eat less.

  18. Debi’s Update-More on Day 1

    I forgot to mention that I also had a banana and one cutie before breakfast.

    Lunch- Chicken strips sauteed with fresh garlic and red peppers. (Jason, I love grilled red peppers too!) Plus 1/2 baked sweet potato.

    Snack-one apple, one slice cheese, and a handful of almonds.

    Dinner- This was hard as I’m used to reaching for tortillas when I have beans, so instead I made a green salad with marinated fresh raw veggies and a bit of shredded cheese on top. No main source of protein here. Wasn’t sure whether I should eat beans? I do not eat red meat and very little pork.

    After dinner I wanted something sweet, so I sauteed apples in a little dab of butter and cinnamon. Sprinkled with a tiny bit of brown sugar and some chopped walnuts.

    • Debbie, your meals sound great.

      I think beans are fine. A strict paleo approach would frown on them, but in moderation they shouldn’t cause too much gut irritation. Tim Ferris’ Slow Carb approach uses beans and lentils in place of rice and other grains.

      I’m not a fan of using supplements too often, but it could be a good idea to have some quality protein powder around for the times that you don’t have a protein source during your meal.

      That dessert sounds yummy. In moderation (there’s that word again. :-)) I think it’s a good choice.

  19. Debi’s Update-Day 2 (am)

    Down 2.5 lbs and .5 less around my waist.

    I’m not physically missing wheat, yet, but trying to get creative. Instead of bread for a sandwich at lunch today, I’ll use lettuce and roll up some turkey and cheese. Maybe dip it in a bit of mayo with dried mustard & paprika added.

    I really enjoy protein drinks as well and plan to have them regularly to help balance my protein intake. I do not care for much dairy or meat so I feel really challenged that wheat is off limits. I can see why it’s considered a great filler! It does however force me to focus that much more on veggies and get to know some of them better. That’s a good thing.

    Stu, where do you live? I can tell by the time it must be a different continent! 🙂

    • Congrats Debbie! Great start.

      I love your option of using lettuce instead of bread.

      I use gluten free bread from time to time, but it is usually made with rice flour or quinoa flower. It’s certainly a better option than wheat, but as I have mentioned before, staying away from all grains is even better.

      Keep it up.

  20. Jason’s update – Day 6
    Weight: 208.4lbs (4.2lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 43.5inches (.5 inches lost to date)

    No change today. Had a really good day of eating yesterday and I expected to see a drop. It just goes to show that you can’t obsess over day to day results. It’s the long term trend that’s important.

  21. Stu’s Food Log Day 22

    Breakfast:
    3 Eggs Hardboiled
    Leftover Beet Salad
    Few almonds

    Snack
    Banana
    Almonds

    Snack (Post workout)
    2 Clementine Oranges (small)
    Chicken 1 breast
    Shot of Fish oil

    Dinner:
    Salmon Fillet and Chicken Breast
    Dried Cranberries
    Carrot, Green Bean and Asparagus, with peppers mixed/boiled

    Comments: Another good day of clean eating. A little heavy on the almonds and would enjoy a few more veggies. Going to start making mass-poritions ala the protein sources to help combat the accessibility of fruit.

    I could feel a craving for carb-processed crap particularly at 9pm after yoga. All the more reason to properly hydrate and reduce those thirst cravings masquerading as hunger. My aim is to keep the diet as ‘strict’ paleo with protein powder but I incorporate three cheat items per week. My goal is to reduce these items to be less and less as time goes on. Toast with breakfast as opposed to hitting the breakfast buffet as an example.

    The process has been a test of mindfulness as well because to be successful you have to make the most of your cheats. As an example, tonight I have a birthday party to attend and realize I could forseeably have a beer. Saturday my grandmother is coming over and she has a tendancy to bring baked goods. Add a convenience cheat or something related to a social event and that rounds out my week.

    • Great job Stu.

      It’s a great idea to prepare protein sources in advance. They’re usually the most difficult to prepare. I often cook up multiple chicken breasts at the beginning of the week and chop them up over salad or reheat them with other veggies for dinner. I also love cooking up good turkey sausages (organic turkey apple from a local butcher are my favorite) and having them on hand for breakfasts. Hard boiled eggs are also really convenient.

      Good point about mindfulness in this process. I’ll be doing a future post on mindful eating. Keep an eye open for it.

  22. Debi’s update- Day 3 & 4

    No change in pounds lost, unless my scale stopped working. .5 inch lost around waist.

    Didn’t post yesterday due to a strained back, but recovering faster than I thought. Can’t do my free weights yet, but can start aerobic walking daily due to schedule change, (unlike last week) and I think this might speed up my weight loss more than anything.

    Eating well. Noticing other changes. Body feels less in a turmoil. No up and down mood swings. (I’m also severely limiting my sugar intake, except in the area of fruit.) Sleeping better. Less bloating in my tummy. Sinuses feel clearer, even though I generally don’t have sinus issues or allergies.

    A few moments of longing for something snackie and of course not good for me, but hung in there. My last “dessert” was fresh organic berries with a bit of vanilla yogurt and chopped nuts. I really wanted the angel food cake I spotted in the produce section a few days ago. After 30 days… that will be a treat for “treat day” 🙂

    Since Jason hasn’t checked in lately, I assume baby has arrived. Many blessing for a healthy mama and child and that the family is celebrating with joy right now.

    • You’re doing great.

      Sorry to hear about your back, but I’m impressed that you didn’t use it as an excuse to stop the challenge.

      Don’t worry about watching the scale too closely from day to day. It’s the long term results we’re looking for.

  23. With Calen’s arrival I have been slow to update my progress. Hopefully I’ll have time to do so more regularly for the rest of the challenge.

    Below are my day 7 – 10 updates. The downward trend continues. Some of those days I had small cheats. With family and friends over to visit and celebrate Calen’s arrival, there were treats brought by our home. I didn’t overindulge and as a result was able to keep on track.

    Jason’s update – Day 7
    Weight: 206.6lbs (6lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 43.5inches (.5 inches lost to date)

    Jason’s update – Day 8
    Weight: 206lbs (6.6lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 43.5inches (.5 inches lost to date)

    Jason’s update – Day 9
    Weight: 206lbs (6.6lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 43.25inches (.75 inches lost to date)

    Jason’s update – Day 10
    Weight: 205.4lbs (7.2lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 43.25inches (.75 inches lost to date)

  24. Jason’s update – Day 11
    Weight: 205.4lbs (7.2lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 43.25inches (.75 inches lost to date)

    Jason’s update – Day 12
    Weight: 205.8lbs (6.8lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 43.25inches (.75 inches lost to date)

    Jason’s update – Day 13
    Weight: 205lbs (7.6lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 43inches (1 inches lost to date)

    I’m happy with my progress. On day 11 I had some M&M’s and quite a few potatoes, so I wasn’t surprised to see the jump in weight on Day 12. I got on track after that and as you see above, the weight corrected and I lost more off of my stomach. Feeling good!

  25. Jason’s update – Day 14
    Weight: 204.4lbs (8.2lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 43inches (1 inches lost to date)

    Jason’s update – Day 15
    Weight: 203lbs (9.6lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 43inches (1 inches lost to date)

    I’m feeling really good about my progress. I find that as you start to see success in your strategy you gain momentum and it becomes easier and easier to stay on track.

    I hope that those of you who are doing this challenge with me are having good results. If you’ve had some set-backs, don’t give up. Get back on track and start again immediately.

    Good luck!

  26. I completed Thirty Days of Paleo Eating. I’ve adjusted my plan slightly based on your other practical recommendations and will be continuing on.

    Important success factors:
    I will continue to journal my food
    I will continue to hydrate before and after sleep
    I will strive to limit fruit intake and maximize vegetable intake

    Key Factors to Change:

    1) I will monitor and record my progress
    As someone who was obsessive about his weight in the early teen years (dropped 45lbs in 8th grade) I’ve avoided the scale and focused on performance based goals. I’ve got a good grasp of my strength and conditioning having returned to a regular training schedule and I will get on the scale twice weekly

    I weighed myself 3 years ago at 225lbs before serious training and hot yoga became part of my lifestyle. I’m half excited and nervous to see a numerical change. My highest point was ~265lbs

    2) I will fast for longer in the evening and shorter in the morning. I have been training in the mornings after waking up, and find my muscles do not operate as well on heavy days if I have fasted. I will eat light with a quality snack beforehand and PWO meal consistency afterward

    3) I will further limit my cheats. Cheats have turned into binges over the past week or so. Cheats should be items – not buffet-style platters of delicable stuff leaving you with a carb-induced hangover. As they say in Whole9 – if a cookie is going to trigger a response where you clean out any Tim Hortons within 3 square kilometers; you shouldn’t have the cookie.

    I can continue to post food-logs if desired

    • Congrats on completing 30 days. That’s great. Keep it up.

      I agree with the cheats. I have a tendency to let them get out of control if I’m not careful.

      Let me know what kind of light snacks work well on heavy lifting days to give you energy. I’d be curious to know if a caffeinated beverage would do the trick. I discovered Yerba Meta recently and love it. It gives you that alert mind without jitters. It’s a very popular tea in South America.

  27. With my newfound gusto and demoralizing deliciousness behind me I embarked on what I would call ‘nearly’ an ideal day of nutrition and training. I’m fortunate to be in a position for a couple weeks where I can optomize my training and ramp up the volume. This means low stress – good sleep – decent scheduling. It’s imperative to have the mentioned factors in check then dial in my diet and training as needed

    Mon April 18

    (ate 90 mins before sleep – 2.5hrs would have been ideal)
    9 hrs sleep

    Wakeup – 1 lt Water
    60 Min Hot Yoga

    Raspberrie / Blueberrie Banana + Whey Shake
    6 block almonds
    2 Slice turkey
    More water
    * I could have kept eating here, but didn’t NEED to. I wasn’t hungry – my body just craved crap because it was used to it from the days before.

    12km Run

    Water
    Blackened Salmon
    Spinach
    2 Slice Smoked Meat

    Pre-Strength Workout – small piece of Roast and Sweet Potatoe
    Post-Workout – Roast Beef, sweet potatoe, squash, buk-choi. Shot of Fish oil

    Above was a 7.5hr eating window. I feel like I SHOULD have eaten more, given the activity of the day but I simply was quite full after dinner. I didn’t feel it necessary to LOAD UP more at dinner but this could change based on my recovery.

    I’m trying to have my largest meal of the day after my strength workout, keep the food clean and unprocessed while maintaining an 8hr eating window if possible. I will only keep the window down at 8 hrs if the rest of my training is dialed in. The key is ramming enough calories in during that time.

    Rough Thoughts:
    20% more carbs on strength days then on days without strength and 20% more fat on days without weights. These are only rough breakdowns of how I will modify – not being super particular

  28. Jason’s update – Day 16
    Weight: 204.6lbs (8lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 43inches (1 inches lost to date)

    Jason’s update – Day 17
    Weight: 204.8lbs (7.8lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 42.75inches (1.25 inches lost to date)

    Jason’s update – Day 18
    Weight: 204.8lbs (7.8lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 42.5inches (1.5 inches lost to date)

    The past few days have been pretty odd as far as numbers go. Again, a reminder that looking at the long term results is best.

    As you’ll see, my weight went up the past three days. I think this is due to a couple of factors. I’ve haven’t been getting enough sleep due to Caelan’s schedule and I know that my Cortisol levels are pretty messed up. I’ll post about Cortisol more in the future.

    That said, I’ve also made some poor food choices. I’ve had more “white” foods including a huge helping of rice pasta, cookies, popcorn and some sugary treats. I need to get my diet back under control.

    Oddly enough, despite seeing my weight rise, my stomach measurement has dropped. I’m guessing that part of my weight is fat, but also some muscle due to my workouts. I don’t want to get into my workout program as a variable to weight loss right now, but I”ll post about it further down the road. Honestly, in my experience and in the opinions of others that I respect, exercise plays a much smaller role in weight loss than most people would like to believe.

  29. Day 2.

    16 hr Fast – with water
    60 min Moksha Class

    Apple
    Orange
    3 Slices of Smoked Meat
    Almonds (Lots throughout the day)

    12km run

    Salmon Fillet
    Leftover Buck-choie
    Raspberries (handful)

    Asparagus
    Spinach
    3 Egg Omlette w/
    Green Peppers
    Red Peppers
    Onions
    Shot of Fish Oil

    Comments: I feel like I should be eating more pre-12km run and a little more protein throughout the day. As I write this I decided to have a WHEY shake before ending my eating window for the day for the quick protein and low-carb. I had lots of almonds above. Too many in fact

    Jumping on the scale tomorrow – let’s see

    • Looking good, Stu.

      Why do you think you need more before your 12km run? You certainly have more than enough glycogen stored in your muscles to get you through a run of that distance. Maybe a little juice mixed with your water throughout the run if you think you need it. Perhaps you feel ill if you don’t train with food on your stomach, but I’d still think the fruit, almonds and smoked meat would have been enough.

      I found that I saw the best results during intermittent fasting when I didn’t eat anything before my training session. I’d be interested in hearing more about your experiences.

      Jason

  30. Well…I’m back and picking myself up and dusting off. Fell way behind. Not only has my back not made a quick recovery, but my mother successfully went through breast cancer surgery and is now recovering nicely. (This on the heels of brain surgery for a tumor.) And other family stuff that knocked me for a loop, darn it.

    I was feeling better before my lapse, although I must say I lost very little weight. I think that partly did help to encourage me to eat whatever I felt like it over the past week. So of course I don’t feel good right now. I haven’t gone all out and binged but I sure thought about it 🙂

    I love reading your menus Stu. Sure helps for inspiration and ideas. Thank you for taking the time to share them.

    What do you do when your feelings and emotions get you down and you find it hard to maintain the course? (Sad too because my grandchildren are moving far away in just a few weeks.)

    It’s important for me to get beyond always “trying to change my eating habits” to a new way of eating that comes naturally, without the constant inner struggle to do what’s right for me.

    My main motivation is for health, now and my future as a senior citizen. I want to be drug-free (prescriptions, of which I currently take none) and be able to walk, bike and dance with ease well into….forever or as long as I have two feet!

    • I’m so happy to have you back. It’s great that you’re here and that the goal of eating a healthier diet remained on your mind despite all of the other challenges life has thrown at you this past while. Just that fact leads me to believe that you are moving beyond always “trying to change my eating habits”. You’re already conscious of what you want to be doing. I think that’s a big accomplishment. So often in my life I would eat without being conscious of what I was putting in my mouth or the negative effects it would have on me.

      It sounds to me that right now you’re facing the challenge of overcoming some physical food addictions. Our brains literally become addicted to the chemical responses in our bodies when we eat certain foods. Kicking sugar and bad fatty foods is hard. The good news is that in my experience, the better you eat the more your body will crave healthy foods.

      One trick that has worked well for me is the fifteen minute rule. When I crave something that I know I shouldn’t eat I do three things… I drink a glass of water, I eat something healthy (even just half and apple or some almonds) and then I wait for fifteen minutes. The vast majority of the time, when that fifteen minutes rolls around my craving has passed, I feel full from my snack and I feel empowered for overcoming my craving.

      Keep up the good work and you’ll be walking, biking and dancing with ease for a long time to come.

  31. Thanks for the encouragement, Jason! You got it right. I do have and have had a very strong addiction to sugar foods and this year also things like chips. It’s worse than my former addiction to smoking. (I quit cold turkey many years ago.) Food is much harder to get a handle on and bad food in particular.

    I notice even my taste buds will reject good food in favor of bad. It’s getting my taste buds to turn around and acquire a distaste for the junk food that is challenging too. I could actually tell a difference last week when I stopped eating well and picked up a donut that signaled an end to my project. It didn’t taste good, but I kept eating it 🙁

    It’s part mindfulness and part action, I think. I like your suggestion of the 15 minute rule and will do that. For a long time I carry around this vision of my inner body free and pure from empty non-real food stuffs, chemicals & additives, etc…and I’m glowing with a feeling of lightness and well-being. I can see and thinker clearer. My emotions are usually positive and loving. I feel strong and physically capable of taking care of myself.

    That’s what good health feels like to me. I so believe food is the best medicine for good health.

    Thank you again 🙂

    • A friend gave my wife and I a great piece of advice… if you find yourself eating something (like your donuts) and you’re not thoroughly enjoying it, put it down. If you’re not going to enjoy it, why pack on the calories and damaging properties of the food. This is something I have struggled with in the past (mindless eating) and this tip helped me quite a bit.

  32. I’m totally with you guys on the mindfulness of eating and how the battle can be largely mental. The combination of commercials and delivery food can be devastating. On a related note, I cheated PRODUCTIVELY yesterday.

    16 hr fast
    Water &
    All You Can Eat Sushi – moderate amount with Reese Peanut Butter Cup
    *This was half-planned and a long overdue lunch with my friend and coach. I used water to effect the quantity of food as per the fifteen minute suggestion, but I still indulged.

    Snack was almonds, fruit and veggies and of course some Fish Oil.

    Strength Training Session

    Chicken
    Lettuce Based Salad with Tomaetos, Onion, Cucumber and Vinagrette

    The key when cheating is to not let your poor food choice disrupt the fast first and foremost. Secondary objective is to get right back eating clean afterwards. Instead of writing off the whole day you lose but a few hours in the day. Lastly there is less food because of the size of my lunch.

    No hunger pangs which has been the biggest shocker of all. Everyday energy is great between the fasted times – sleep improved as well, though the no sugar and proper sleep setup (see blog post) are to thank as well.

    I weighed in for the first time in 3 years at 209lbs yesterday. IMO reading a bit high, (after sushi, no yoga that day) but let’s call it 209 and work from there. Goal weight is around 185.

    My current athletic markers for relative measurement:
    Bench: 205 (was 3 more reps before Brazil)
    Deadlift: 275 (was 350 before Brazil)
    10km: ~43:30 mins (New PR)
    I’ll include my squat once I’m done tinkering with it.

    • Great markers and starting points. Having quantifiable numbers to assess your progress makes things much easier in my opinion. Keep it up.

      And great 10k time! You’ll notice that it will drop considerably as you drop weight, even if your fitness doesn’t improve, which we know it will. 😉

  33. Jason’s update – Day 19
    Weight: 204.2lbs (8.4lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 42.5inches (1.5 inches lost to date)

    Jason’s update – Day 20
    Weight: 204.6lbs (8lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 42.5inches (1.5 inches lost to date)

    Jason’s update – Day 21
    Weight: 205lbs (7.6lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 42.5inches (1.5 inches lost to date)

    Jason’s update – Day 22
    Weight: 204.2lbs (8.4lbs lost to date)
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 42.25inches (1.75 inches lost to date)

    Sorry I was delayed in updating my results over the past few days. It has been a busy time. But I did make sure to record all of my updates.

    As you’ll see, my weight loss took a slight turn for the worst, but then started to drop a bit again. Seems I’m kind of stagnating and I’ll need to really get clean with my eating to kick start another drop before my 30 days is up in this challenge. That said, my stomach measurement continued to go down, so overall I’m happy.

  34. Today was the final day of my 30 day weight loss challenge.

    Final numbers… 200.2lbs for a loss of 12.4lbs and 42inches stomach measurement for a loss of 2 inches.

    I’m quite happy with my results, although I was .2lbs short of my 200lbs goal. As you’ll see from the day to day updates from my final week below, I packed some weigh on around Easter. My eating took a turn for the worse. However, after Easter when I returned to my plan, followed my strategy and eliminated all white foods, my weight dropped quickly. I know that all of that weight wasn’t fat, so it goes to show you just how much water and waste weight we carry around when we’re bloated and eating grains.

    I hope that some of you who were following and taking part in this challenge yourselves were pleased with your results. The strategy works if you stick to it. If you started and fell off the wagon, get back on. And congratulations, because if you even started and made an effort to change your eating habits then you’re on the right track. If you’ve been tracking your results, please post them.

    I’ll be having other 30 day challenges in the future. I hope you’ll follow along once again and maybe even participate.

    Thanks for your support!

    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 42.25inchesJason’s update – Day 23
    Weight: 204.4lbs
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 42.25inches

    Jason’s update – Day 24
    Weight: 205.6lbs
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 42.5inches

    Jason’s update – Day 25
    Weight: 207lbs
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 42.5inches

    Jason’s update – Day 26
    Weight: 206.1lbs
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 42.5inches

    Jason’s update – Day 27
    Weight: 205.2lbs
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 42.5inches

    Jason’s update – Day 28
    Weight: 203.8lbs
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 42.25inches

    Jason’s update – Day 29
    Weight: 202.2lbs
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 42inches

    Jason’s update – Day 30
    Weight: 200.2lbs
    Stomach measurement @ belly button: 42inches

  35. Hi Jason,

    Back from my travels and finally registered here. Wasn’t sure what to think about using a pw to comment. Haven’t encountered that before.

    Anyway, I am doing great with the diet and have lost 4 lbs so far, once I got back to it. I may not post often, but I’m here in spirit and you can bet I’m plugging away.

    Hope you’re enjoying your last minute trip 🙂

    • Welcome back. I hope you enjoyed your travels. Congrats on the 4lbs. Keep it up.

      We’re having a great trip, although I’ll need to refocus my diet when we’re home. In the meantime I’m trying to practice moderation and keep active while on the road.

      Take care.

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  42. 5 pounds while the placebo group lost almost 3 pounds.

    Apart from water, fresh juices, and soups also contribute
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