In early 2004, I sat in a small airport in Kalispell, MT with my Dad. I was 23 years old, just 6 months out of college as an engineer, and as out of shape as I had ever been. There are very few pictures of me during this time. The picture above was taken 6 months earlier when I graduated from college and was probably a good 15 pounds lighter than I was that day in the airport.
I could tell my Dad had wanted to say something about my weight all weekend during our vacation at Big Mountain in Whitefish, MT, and he eventually did there in the airport. He simply said, almost out of the blue, “You gotta do something, bud.” I didn’t need an explanation for the otherwise random comment. I knew exactly what he meant.
Now, we could either spend the rest of this book analyzing the mental effects of that comment and the rest of my childhood, or we could talk about what happened after that and how it led to writing this book. I’m guessing that you’re not here for a detailed account of my childhood emotional baggage, so I’ll save that for another time.
That day, my Dad and I committed to sending daily emails with a food journal to keep each other accountable. This wasn’t new territory for me though. I weighed around 275 pounds at that point, but dieting was certainly not foreign to me. Like many overweight people, I’d been dieting most of my life. I can still vividly remember going to Taco Bell as a kid and asking for the nutritional information pamphlet so I could count my calories. I lost 35 or 40 pounds on a 1200 calorie diet when I was 12 years old.
By the time I left for college, I had done 1200 calorie diets, 1500 calorie diets, Jenny Craig, Slim Fast, and the cabbage soup diet (the one they would use for heart surgery patients that need to lose weight). On all of them, I would lose weight while I was on it, but I never actually changed my eating habits. As soon as I would stop the diet, the weight would come back. Often, it would be more than the original weight I had lost on the diet.
Despite all of that, I went back to my gold standard 1500 calorie diet for my accountability plan with my Dad. Sure, I would eat salads and other stuff I thought was good for me, but the main goal was always keeping under 1500 calories. Diet soda was a 60+ ounce per day habit and I would often skip meals or eat very small amounts so I could have enough calories left for ice cream.
The first few weeks on the new (err…uh…same old) plan were business as usual. I lost weight like I always did on a 1500 calorie diet and I started hating the restriction of it all around week 2. I was hungry, feeling deprived, and craving all the things I couldn’t have.
Fortunately, this time didn’t end the way other diet attempts had in the past. Two things happened during the first few weeks of that diet that I believe were critical to my health journey. First, I met my future wife in the first week after starting the diet. Secondly, some buddies from work heard I was on a diet and decided to make it a contest. Those two factors pushed me to stick with my plan for much longer than I ever had. My Dad and I stopped emailing around 6 weeks in, but I didn’t stop dieting. In fact, later in the weight loss contest, we decided to do a sprint triathlon at the end and that pushed me even more.
By May of 2005, I was down 80 pounds from that day in the airport and was about to get married. I was also the narrowly defeated silver medalist of the weight loss contest and about to complete my first triathlon.
I wish I could tell you that the entire year I spent on a 1500 calorie diet ended up being no big deal, but I can’t. That year was incredibly difficult. The support of the contest and my future wife along with the motivation to look good at my wedding and complete my first triathlon without dying was enough to carry me through, but all the typical things that everyone hates about dieting were right there the whole time. It was tough.
It’s possible that you haven’t personally stayed on a diet for a year and lost 80 lbs. It’s possible that you haven’t completed any triathlons either. But, there’s a good chance the first part of my story isn’t much different than your story.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard versions of my story in other people’s lives. I’ve met so many people who have been on that same “diet rollercoaster” that I was on for 20 years. Many of them have been on it for even longer. They’ve tried all the diets. Atkin’s, keto, South Beach, low fat, low carb, high fat, raw vegan, Slim Fast, and maybe even the heart surgery cabbage soup diet.
If that’s you, then you’re definitely in the right place, because what happened after I lost all that weight is what really changed my life. It’s what led me to create the 90/10 Nutrition system (more on that later) and write this book.
I’m going to share that story with you in the next few pages. Don’t skip reading the first part of this book so you can get to the “plan”. I know it can be tempting to say, “just show me what to do. I don’t care about the why”. But, from someone just like you, please trust me when I say that you won’t regret taking a little time to read what I’m about to share with you.
I’m excited to guide you through the next 4 weeks, so turn the page and let’s get started.