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The long story… 2 days till Project Guinea Pig

July 15, 2011

I’m 26 years old and have no memory of ever being thin. My name is Aaron and I want to experience something new in life. I want to feel healthy and fit for the first time in my life.

For as long as I can remember I have been fat. I know I was skinny at some point in my childhood because of a few pictures I have. However, I have no memory of that, and especially not of how it felt to not be fat.

I remember as a child my family would all be on a diet together. Eating meals of sandwiches made with reduced calorie bread served with cottage cheese. It was tasty, sure, but it never did seem to work.

I just kept getting fatter and fatter. In jr. high and high school I was always around 240-250lbs. I tried to lose weight and would talk about it at school. Some people I hung out with actually would tell me that I didn’t need to lose weight. One told me they wouldn’t like me if I lost weight because I wouldn’t be me anymore. So I never really seriously tried, but that thought of being fat still tormented me and destroyed my confidence.

After high school I met the girl who would become my wife. We would stay up hanging out and talking till 2 or 3 in the morning most nights. During this time food was the last thing on my mind. I ate about every 2 or 3 days and that was usually just a taco bell kid’s meal. Soon enough I was down to 220lbs.

After a while I started eating normal again and my weight shot up again and went past my normal 240-250lbs. I tried various calorie-restricting diets on and off. All with the same results: depression, constant thoughts of food, impulsive eating, lack of energy, and when I did lose weight I was cold all the time.

After my wife and I got married we decided we wanted to have a child. When we found out that she was pregnant I knew I had to do something. For my wife, my unborn child, and me I had to lose weight! I had to be healthy. I didn’t want to die young and leave this child without a daddy and my wife without a husband.

I went to my doctor and she gave me a diet to follow. I immediately got on the diet and saw great results. I wish I remembered the specific diet, but it was basically a set amount of protein, vegetables, and starchy carbohydrates at each meal. I dropped lots of weight and got down to about 230lbs if I remember correctly. Then my son was born and things got crazy. The weeks following his birth it was very difficult to keep up with my diet and then there were changes at work that made it more difficult for me to bring my lunch and dinner to work.

So I ended up getting off the diet and shot up to 299lbs! That was the most depressing time of my life. I could not stand the thought of being over 300lbs. My depression and anxiety kept getting worse and worse.

I decided that again I had to lose weight. I tried my doctor’s diet again and other calories restricting diets. Again I had all the same results as before. I later added it up and my doctor’s diet was about 1200-1300 calories depending on your food choices. I always amazed me how much harder it was to lose weight than quit smoking, which I tried and failed at many times before succeeding!

Eventually my anxiety and depression got so bad that I went to see therapist. After a while of therapy and getting on meds for anxiety and ADHD, my life started getting significantly better. I am letting go of a lot of things that keeps me from being present in the moment and happy with my life. My depression has improved by leaps and bounds and continues to do so with every week. However, I am still fat.

I again took on the task of trying to lose weight by calorie restriction and walking. When I would try to talk to my doctor about my efforts she would just tell me what I was doing wasn’t good enough and that I needed to “push myself away from the table”. She ended up putting me on two medications for hypertension and I went on my way feeling I would never lose the weight.

I did manage to get myself down to 269.2lbs by calorie restriction, but it just was not sustainable. I felt horrible all the time. It was just miserable physically and mentally.

While listening to some pod casts at work I came across an interview with a man I have never heard of named Gary Taubes. He was talking about why we get fat. He was saying that everything that we know about nutrition is wrong. That the governments recommended diet is basically killing us.

I was intrigued and inspired by his words. I got a copy of the audio book version of his book “Why We Get Fat”. I listened to the book straight through the next day at work, and then again the next 3 days. This book was amazing. He talked about the science of why we are getting fat. He explained what carbohydrates do to our bodies and what we need to do to fix it. He gave scientific reasons, which really matters to me, and backed up every claim he made.

Inspired, I took to following the diet found in the appendix of the ebook version I also got. This new information inspired me to continue researching health and nutrition, but to look this time at information that was not conventional wisdom. After much research I decided to follow the Atkins plan because they have a forum on their site with many helpful people. There were things Atkins allows in later phases that I did not agree with, but decided to just not include them in my plan.

I started my low carb way of eating on 6-15-11 at the weight of 269.2lbs. By 7-4-11 I was down to 258lbs and was starting to feel bad. I got a home blood pressure tester on 6-17-11 and started to take daily morning readings and recording them. Me feeling horrible was going hand in hand with drops in my blood pressure.

I tried to contact my doctor but after a week could not get her to contact me. Finally I decided after having to go home early from work due to feeling light-headed, weak, shaky, and like I was going to pass out, I needed a new doctor. The day I made an appointment with a new doctor my old doctor’s nurse called and said my doctor thought my blood pressure numbers looked fine. I went to the new doctor and showed her my numbers and, sure enough, she wanted me off the blood pressure medication. I have been off the medication since 7-5-11 and feel great now, and my blood pressure is staying in a good range!

I got down to 255.6lbs on 7-9-11 following the Atkins plan. On top of the weight loss I was just feeling healthier and happier. I did however continue my research into health and nutrition.

I started getting tired of weighing everything I ate and tracking my carbs and the percentage of fat, protein, and carbs I was eating. Although I did enjoy learning to make an excel spreadsheet to do all that work.

I came across an interview with Timothy Ferriss and his book the 4-hour body. His approach intrigued me and is very interesting to the experimental side of me. The great thing about his approach is that you don’t have to count and weigh anything. You just have to have an idea of how much protein is in the food you eat and hit a certain level, but you don’t really have to weigh or count anything once you get that mental image. He also tells you to make it simple. Pick a few meals you like and make them over and over. This approach, which I will outline later, is very interesting to me. I did a quick Google search and it seems that many people have really had success on this plan.

I am 26 years old, and have decided that I am sick and tired of being fat and unhealthy. So I have decided to start what I am calling Project Guinea Pig. I am going to try the plan outlined in the 4-Hour Body and see if it works.

Doing anything is better than doing nothing, right?

I know that a lot of people are going to tell me that I just need to “eat right and exercise”, but honestly that just doesn’t work. I know that a lot of people are going to think that the conventional wisdom on health and nutrition is right and that I should follow the guidelines for health and nutrition that are taught in school and by our government. Those guidelines have failed me, and after much research that is still on going I have decided that I just don’t believe that stuff is true. The evidence to suggest otherwise is just too strong.

I am certainly open to hearing people’s ideas and discussing nutrition and health, which I admit I know very little about.

Just keep in mind that I have tried everything I can and am still overweight and unhappy. I have done so much damage to my body already. So why not try new things till something works. First up the 4-Hour Body.

  1. July 23, 2011 16:14

    Hi Aaron, my name’s David, and our stories are quite similar, with the exception that I was a good bit older than you before I discovered Taubes, and ultimate Mark Sisson. I’ve been primal for about 4.5 months now and lost a bit over 60 lbs. from a starting weight of 289. Best of luck with your journey and lifestyle change.


    • July 23, 2011 16:34

      Thanks David!

      I think ultimately when I hit my ideal weight I am going to then try to transition to a primal diet consuming only local organic veggies and local grass fed beef and meats. However that is another challenge for another day. Right now I am focusing on weight loss and then general fitness and health. Right now I can’t afford to eat the way I really would like to, but I hope to some day!

      Good luck on your journey to health! I will definitely check out your blog and progress from time to time!

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