In 2011, I took over a small restaurant in my town and shortly after, we turned it into a BBQ joint. Over the course of 5 years, I gained almost 150lbs. / 68kg. I weighed 348 lbs. / 158kg. I also developed severe joint pain and was taking 21 (4,200mg) ibuprofen daily. I had horrible sleep apnea, and eventually was pre-diabetic, had elevated kidney and liver enzymes, had high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
In 2016, I developed severe edema. My hands, feet and legs were always swollen. I saw my doctor many times and the answer was always to throw pills at me. I was prescribed an anti-inflammatory, a pain killer, and a muscle relaxer. They seemed to help a little, but never fixed the issues and the edema persisted. I even had a deep vein thrombosis scan and a couple of EKG’s. I was never once talked to about my diet! Even being a fat guy.
Edema in my foot and ankle 9.23.16:
In September 2016, I began having severe gastrointestinal pain. On October 3rd, 2016 I was hospitalized for it. They ran many tests, gave me NO answers, did not address my diet, and prescribed MORE medications. Upon release from the hospital, I had a conversation with my 68 year old extremely healthy, mostly plant based mom. Her words to me were “Don’t fill those prescriptions, FOOD IS MEDICINE! Do the research!”. So I did! I was unable to work and am an avid research junkie so I poured through the internet and medical journals for an anti-inflammatory diet.
Beginning Oct 5th, 2016 I stopped eating beef, pork, and chicken, and limited my dairy consumption to less than half of what I was eating, and stopped drinking soda. I included turmeric into my diet and started hydrating with lemon and lime in my water. I also limited my refined carbohydrate intake. In a little over 2 weeks, my edema was gone and my blood pressure stabilized into the normal range. In 100 days, I lost 80lbs. / 36kg!!
In February 2017, I watched the documentary ‘Forks Over Knives’ and immediately stopped consuming cheese due to the Casein, Casomorphins, and IGF-1 in dairy (More info on that in my post “Giving Up Cheese & Going Vegan“). Within 3 weeks of ditching dairy, my lifelong struggle of daily anxiety magically disappeared. As I continued to research, I then gave up eggs and fish realizing that I had no need for this protein source in my diet, nor did I need the additional cholesterol. I have now been plant based for 18 months.
In November 20, I had blood work done and everything is exceptional! I am currently at 180 lbs. / 81.6 kg in 20 months. That is a 168lb. / 76kg weight loss!!! I also got involved with the Plant Based Nutrition Support Group (PBNSG.org) and run a local support group in my community. It is amazing what transformations I have seen. Going Plant Based saved my life, and has changed SO many lives!
Without further ado, here are my EASY weight loss tips:
The first thing that I think is important to know is that you need rapid results in order to feel confident in your chosen approach and in order to feel encouraged to keep up with it! If you implement the changes that I suggest and just do it, you WILL see success and that success will promote additional excitement and new goals to strive for.
- Avoid Alcohol. Alcohol is more or less straight sugar any way you look at it. Most people drink alcohol in the evenings and then it metabolizes while you sleep. If you are going to drink alcohol, stick with a higher quality red wine and keep it to a minimum.
- Avoid Processed Foods. Many people out of convenience purchase packaged and processed foods. Many of these off the shelf items contain fillers and tons of sugar and refined grains like flour. A personal trainer friend of mine said “If it’s white, it ain’t right”. This includes non-whole grain breads, white pasta’s, white flour, white rice, and sugar.
- Watch Your Refined Carbohydrate Intake. When watching your overall carbohydrate intake, please know that it is dangerous to drop below 40 grams per day. If you are considering a low carb diet, it is recommended that you take potassium supplement to avoid seizures! When counting carbs, I do not count dietary fiber and only count carbs from sugars and refined flours (or bad carbs). The minimum recommended carbohydrate intake when you are not trying to lose weight is 120 grams daily.
- Stick to COMPLEX Carbohydrates — Avoid Refined Carbohydrates! It is best to eat complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs are found in whole grains, beans, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. This means that you avoid things like refined sugar, refined flour, white rice, and pasta. This also means GETTING RID OF SWEETENED BEVERAGES.
- Don’t Eat Late. One of the reasons that I gained so much weight is that I got home late from work and was famished by then. I would eat at 11:00PM and usually overeat, and then would go to bed. It is best that you don’t eat within 4 hours of doing to bed. Your body also needs a little bit of a resting or fasting time and it helps burn excess calories by having a longer break in between meal times.
- Snack Often. Yes you heard me right. If you are hungry, eat! What you choose to eat will make a big difference. My snack is an apple, a carrot, a glass of soy milk, 1 TBS of peanut butter (my guilty pleasure), or a SMALL handful of nuts. If you are hungry, pay attention to your body. If you are not hungry all the time, you will be a lot happier and have more success in your weight loss goals. Avoid sugary or pre-packaged snacks at all costs. If you have healthy options ONLY in your home, you won’t turn to the packaged or refined products. Note that sometimes it is easy to confuse hunger with thirst so drink plenty of water!
- Drink Water With Lemon Juice. I know this sounds strange, but lemons have an amazing effect on weight loss. I’m not talking about sugary lemonade. I am talking about lemon infused water. Personally, I add lemon and lime juice to my water. I chose this because of the potassium and magnesium, and it also tastes great. Sipping on lemon water helps boost your metabolism and aid in digestion. It is rich in antioxidants. Note that the citric acid in lemons can erode the enamel of your teeth so it is best to use a straw.
- Get Plenty of Antioxidants. Antioxidants are found in fruits and vegetables. An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Without going into great detail, antioxidants keep your cells healthy and balanced. A person is supposed to have 5–7 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
- Exercise. I know, I know, everyone says you have to exercise to loose weight. I am not telling you to kill yourself in the gym! Just get some level of exercise daily or several time per week. Even if that means taking a walk after dinner. The recommended amount of exercise is 150 minutes per week. That breaks down to a mere 20 minutes per day. Do a little each day.
- Drink Tea. Green tea is known to promote fat burning as it increases your metabolic rate. Although I am certain that is has more to do with the antioxidant effects than anything. The tea with the highest antioxidants is hibiscus tea. Having a high intake of antioxidants will also reduce your risk of cancer.
- Get Plenty of Sleep. Too little sleep inhibits your metabolism. In addition, too little sleep increases your appetite as your body wants to eat for energy. When you are less tired, you are more prone to have the energy to make a healthy meal instead of grabbing a convenience food.
- Slow Down When You Eat. It takes about 20 minutes from the time you are satisfied until your brain recognizes that you are full. Slowing down will help you eat less. Use the 80% rule — eat until you are 80% full. Eat until you are satisfied, not until you are ‘full’. Slowing down will help you feel satisfied without over eating. Consider using a smaller plate.
- Eat Bulky High Fiber, Low Calorie Foods That Fill Your Stomach. The best way to do this is to simply eat more vegetables. Fill your stomach with low calorie foods!
- Avoid Oil. Oil is an unnecessary part of anyone’s diet. You can learn to cook without oil and I will be writing about that soon so make sure to subscribe. 1 TBSP of oil is approximately 130 calories and 14g fat. It also does nothing to satiate you (fill your stomach).
- Stop Eating Meat and Dairy Products! As I mentioned earlier, I needed to have a lifestyle change. I started my weight-loss journey on a Pescatarian diet (vegetarian but still ate fish, eggs, and dairy). I was concerned about the amount of protein I would get in my diet. As I have done more research, I have found that I do not need any of those things and that there is plenty of healthy protein in beans, nuts, and many vegetables. Meat and dairy also have unnecessary saturated fat. Your body produces all of the cholesterol it needs. You don’t have to have any saturated fats in your diet.. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the western world and guess what causes heart disease? Plaque build up in your arterial walls from cholesterol, and unhealthy cholesterol comes from meat and dairy. I later found out about casein in dairy (which is cancer causing) and decided to avoid it at all costs. There are plenty of strong FIT VEGANS! Don’t worry about protein and eat plenty of beans! 1 cup of beans has 41g protein!
A final note, if you think that just ‘going vegan’ is your answer to good health, it isn’t. Fried potato chips, oreos, and Coca-Cola are ‘vegan’ (except maybe they use bone char in the sugar). Faux meat products are highly processed and contain a lot of oil. I wrote about Vegan Junk Food here. Instead adopt a “Whole Food Plant Based” lifestyle.
Thanks for following along! Be sure to follow me and subscribe to my blog for updates.
In Good Health,
JT @ ARespectfulLife.com