Author’s Note: I’m currently in the process of migrating old blog posts to this new system. That may mean some links, syntax highlighting, and other details are broken or missing temporarily. Sorry for the inconvenience!
Several people have asked me what I’m eating lately. Particularly as I’ve talked a fair bit about my struggles with weight loss in some of my videos, and I’ve recently made a bit of progress on that front (I’m down 36 pounds from my peak in late July).
I’ve been a bit reluctant to answer though, for two main reasons:
There has been some research to suggest that talking about your goals may reduce the likelihood of achieving them, as the mere talking takes the place of…ya know…achieving.
I don’t want anybody to copy me. I’m no expert, and I can promise you that I am, in some way, totally abusing my body.
I’m Doing It All Wrong!
There is so much advice out there about nutrition. And the advice doesn’t agree. Not only doesn’t it agree, but they suggest that other diets will kill you! Cut the carbs and build up the protein? You’re either gonna start growing extra muscles, or have a heart attack and die depending on who you listen to. That’s a crappy decision to have to make. How do you know who’s right?
I freely admit that I have no idea what the “right way” to eat is. But I also wasn’t willing to spend years researching nutrition. I was near four hundred pounds, and that’s not a “let’s take some night classes and learn more about this” type of problem. I had to start working on this now.
So what am I doing? I’m experimenting. I’ve spent a lifetime eating terrible food, and I figure hey, even if I try the “wrong” diet, I can probably survive it for a few months. I’m pretty sure I survived on funions for a few months, so my body’s put up with some shit.
I’m trying stuff, and seeing what happens. I’m tracking my weight, pulse, and blood pressure every day. I’m logging in my journal how I feel. I’m tracking absolutely everything I eat. I’ve been thinking about picking up a blood glucose monitor as well, just because it might be interesting to track. But the purpose is so I can see how different strategies work out.
I don’t have any answers. I’m reading a lot and trying to find ‘em. But please don’t follow me. I have no idea what I’m doing.
So What Am I Eating?
I’m sharing some information now, because it gives me an excuse to pull up data from a few sources and package it all together. I think it’ll help contextualize the past bit of work I’ve been doing. I’ve hit the end of a particular phase of my diet, so I’m going to walk through where I started at, up to the present day. But please remember: it’s just history, not advice.
Aww Fuck, I’m Enormous Again
July 19, 2016: Weigh in at 371.1 pounds. BMI over 50. That’s classified as “Super Obese”. Cool. What are my superpowers?
Discovered I couldn’t sit in my deck chairs. I was beginning to warp the injection-molded plastic. Searing back pain; legs went numb a lot. Go for a ten-minute walk, come back drenched in sweat and chafed to all hell. This is the pre-diet misery. Drink some hard cider and wallow in self-pity, because everything else is just the worst. I may have been watching Bojack Horseman at the time, which definitely didn’t help.
I played around with some meal prep. Made chicken/broccoli/rice for lunch (video). The next week, I added egg muffins for breakfast as well (video). This wasn’t a diet; this was a way to try and make sure the pizza delivery guy stopped greeting me on a first-name basis.
What About Only Eating This?
August 1, 2016: Weigh in at 364 pounds. This is week three of that whole “meal prep” thing. I added a third meal: stroganoff, except not with mushrooms (because eww gross, the texture!). And with greek yogurt instead of sour cream because I had extra greek yogurt from the chicken recipe. Also, I added a can of sweet peas. Ya know, for variety.
So, ya know, let’s try only eating those three meals.
…and occasionally some snacks.
…and obviously a lot of hard cider, to hide the sadness of missing the pizza guy!
August 8, 2016: Weigh in at 358.2 pounds. You know, this could actually just be a calorie-deficit diet if it weren’t for all this alcohol. Why don’t I just finish up these four hard ciders, and then we’ll only eat the prepped meals, huh?
The Diet Begins
I haven’t had any alcohol since then. I haven’t gone out to eat either. From August 9th onward, it’s been entirely prepared meals at home, and at least eight cups of water (two Nalgene bottles). That feels strange, but it shouldn’t. Eating food you prepared is normal, Kevin.
August 15, 2016: Weigh in at 352 pounds. I end up taking the peas out of the stroganoff. Couldn’t really taste them. That brings my daily calorie intake from 1665 down to 1550.
For those interested, the macros come out to 77g of carbs, 74g of fat, and 138g of protein for those three meals. Also a ton of cholesterol (because of the eggs), and a serious lack of fiber. My body doesn’t like a lack of fiber. I’ll spare you the details. Just…get enough fiber.
I start tracking my blood pressure around this time. Averaging around 130/75. That’s “prehypertension”, which sounds scary. I should keep an eye on that.
August 21, 2016: Weigh in at 349 pounds. This high-protein diet needs to change. The five fucking grams of fiber is not enough to keep my body functioning. The food is tasty enough (if a bit bland), but it wasn’t designed with nutrition in mind. I picked the meals when I was trying to be lazy and stop ordering pizza. And it did that, very well.
Five of each meal went into the freezer, two of each into the fridge. Each day, one meal came out of the freezer and went into the fridge, while I popped the lid off a defrosted one, set the lid on top, and tossed it in the microwave. One minute and thirty seconds for the eggs or the chicken, two minutes for the stroganoff. That seemed to work.
Off of alcohol. Prepping meals every week. Cooking at home. Drinking water. The habits are in place.
Let’s kick the lid off this thing!
Alright, Let’s Go Crazy Now!
Now we reach the last two weeks. I’ve been doing a bunch of reading, and I feel like going crazy. I’m not confident that the stuff I’ve read is correct, but I’m confident I can give it a shot and not die, or do irreperable harm to my spleen or something. I take some B12 supplements just to be safe. I hope my spleen likes it!
So I went a litle crazy. I went on a monodiet. I ate potatoes. Only potatoes. Like Mark Watney. Like I’m stranded on goddamned Mars.
Turns out you can do that for a while. Potatoes have far more nutrients (and fiber, thanks to the skin! My intestines give two thumbs up! …) than you’d expect. I’d wash a potato, poke some vent holes in the skin, throw it in the microwave for five minutes (six if it was really bulky).
The best part was starting off the week by walking into a gas station at three in the morning on a Saturday night, to buy one 20-pound sack of potatoes. “No, I do not have any gas outside. Just this please!”.
August 29, 2016: Weigh in at 341.6 pounds. That’s a pound a day for the week. I was expecting to have no energy, eating just potatoes. That wasn’t the case. On occasion, I’d start to feel a little chilly in the evenings (I suspect my metabolism is slowing down. It’s probably going to take a long while for the whole basal-metabolic-rate thing to be okay with the weight loss).
The blood pressure thing was making me nervous, and I wanted to make sure I documented any effects from the monodiet. That brought back two really great habits: meditation and journaling. Blood pressure is now consistently down around 115/65. Normal blood pressure.
I get some pangs, but I don’t really feel hungry. I’m starting to distinguish between the two. The result is a pretty severe calorie deficit. I’m eventually down to 2-3 potatoes a day, which is only about 500 calories. That’s low. Too low, but this is a two-week affair, and I’m feeling just fine.
And Here We Are
September 4, 2016: Weigh in at 334.5. I’ve lost 36.6 pounds since I’ve started, almost half of which was in the past two weeks. On Thursday, I started to notice some effects of the severe calorie restriction (I’m not “restricting”, I’m just not really hungry for more). I get light-headed when I stand up. And I’ve gotten a few slight headaches.
As far as the headaches, that also could just be fluctuations in how much tea I’m drinking from day-to-day. I’ve never really dealt with caffeine withdrawal, but it could be that it’s amplified when I’m not eating much. I’ll be keeping an eye on that though.
I expected to feel sleepy, foggy, sick. None of that happened. Just a little dizzy toward the end of this two-week stretch, and only when I stand up. But I don’t lack for energy. I’ve been storing excess energy on my body for twenty-seven years. It’s going to take a long time to drain that battery.
But that’s that. Fourteen-day potato fast, losing a pound-a-day. Now we start to get some of micronutrients back in and keep going.
I’m not going to talk about future plans, because I don’t entirely know what I want to do. Prepping things on a weekly basis though makes it very easy to stick with an idea for a week, then switch if it doesn’t work. But I’ll at least give you a sneak peek. I tried cooking without a recipe today:
Super Awesome Veggie Stew
Note: I haven’t tasted this yet. It could be pure awful. But it looks nice, and I’m stuck with it for a week! I’m probably going to add more bell peppers next week. Maybe some paprika if it turns out to be bland, but I doubt it.
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 cucumbers
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 stalks broccoli
- 2 bunches of kale
- 2 bunches of spinach
- 1/2 tbsp cumin
- 1/2 tbsp basil
- 1 can sweet corn
- 1 can sweet peas
- 1 can green beans
- 2 cans dark red kidney beans
- Add 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar and 1/2 tbsp water to a large pot.
- Add chopped onion and garlic, fry for a little bit, then set to low heat.
- Add chopped bell pepper.
- Slice up the heads of broccoli (if you’re smarter than me, figure out what part of the stalk to save too), and add it to the pot.
- Add another 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar.
- Cover the pot, because steam is great, and also chopping kale and spinach takes forever and will hurt your back.
- Chop the spinach and kale (remove the stem from the kale, and then for both, bunch it all up with one hand, and chop it up with a utility knife).
- Add it to the pot, toss the veggies around a bit. The kale and spinach are super bulky, but they’ll eventually settle down.
- Add 4 cups water, debate adding way more, but no, leave it, it’s fine. Cover and let the steam chill out the kale and spinach.
- After 10-20 minutes, it’ll start to look a bit like a stew. Look, some stuff is partially submerged!
- Add 1/2 tbsp cumin, and smell the pot because now it smells fucking amazing.
- Drain the cans of sweet corn, sweet peas, green beans, and dark red kidney beans the lazy way (don’t use a strainer, just drain the excess water using the can lid to keep stuff in), and add to the pot. Stir that all around.
- The leafy greens are becoming more and more chill (less bulky), and this is starting to resemble a soup! Hooray!
- Add 1/2 tbsp basil, and remove from heat
- Put it in bowls (or meal prep containers if you’re me)
- Serves seven (or one person over seven days)
- 286 cals / serving. 59g carbs, 1g fat, 22g protein (and 21.6 grams of fiber!!!)