Over the past 2 weeks or so, I’ve been assisting my cousin Tommy with his weight loss and health goals. By following my basic regimen of a very low-carb, ketogenic diet in conjunction with intermittent fasting (sans the organ meat… for now…) he has lost 10 lbs. in as many days! 1/4 of his goal! Now, I know you may be thinking those first 10 lbs. are the easiest to lose, and your weight can vary by several lbs. day-to-day, blah-blah-blah… And, you’d be right. However, the most impressive thing he’s done in my view has nothing to do with the scale (which I also think is awesome), and everything to do with breaking the iron grip of sugar and processed foods, and replacing them with natural, healthy alternatives (quite easily as far as I can tell). No whining, no complaining, and apparently no symptoms of glucose withdrawal from cutting out nearly all carbs.
So Tommy has been asking me a ton of questions as far as what to eat, what not to eat, when to eat, etc., and, like the true southern gentleman that he is (born and raised in Georgia) he usually includes an apology in the text or email for being a “bother” or “a pain”. Apparently, I’ve done a decent job of helping him with his goals, and a poor job of articulating that it really is my pleasure to offer him any help I can, not only as a cousin and friend, but because I LOVE THIS SHIT, and I can and do talk about it constantly! Discussing health and diet is like a selfish indulgence for me. It helps keep me sharp and makes me think. In other words, it’s a win-win scenario!
Anyway, he’s asked me a lot of excellent, relevant questions, and I’m always glad to share my opinions and experience, so I thought I’d post a few excerpts from our texts and email exchanges in no particular order:
(by the way, I totally didn’t change his name or ask his permission before posting this… the cost of getting free advice from family…)
TOMMY: Hey, sorry to bother-
Is it bad to fast two days in a row?
Yesterday: 2 cups of coffee with oil, two bottles of water, and small piece of cheese and walked 40 minutes
Today: 2 cups of coffee with oil, walked 40 minutes, had 2 pieces of cheese, and bottle water
I am not hungry. Should I make myself eat this evening? And yes, the cheese was raw organic.
Thanks as always for the help.
ME: Totally fine to fast a few days in a row right now. Always remember to listen to your body’s cues and signals, and follow your instincts. If you’re not feeling hungry, and feel like going another day without eating, go for it! No need to force yourself to eat if you don’t feel like it. Just realize you’re going to burn more fat while fasting by spreading out your fat intake throughout the day, which it sounds like you’re doing.
TOMMY: BTW, You’re a great coach and encourager!
ME: I’m going to save this email for negotiation purposes when I start charging you for my services. Haha.
TOMMY: Pizza for dinner here. Can I have pepporoni, mushrooms, peppers, sauce?
ME: In terms of your weight-loss goals, that’s all fine assuming the sauce has no added sugar (it probably does). In terms of overall health, the pepperoni and any cured/processed meats are always something to be wary of (carcinogenic due to additives and preservatives). I’m assuming you’re referring to eating the acceptable stuff sans crust or bread, yes?
TOMMY: Can you tell me the probiotic and other supplements I should get? I want to buy them tonight. Again, hope it’s not too much trouble.
ME: The probiotics I would recommend are Prescript Assist or Pro-15. I also mentioned the Green Pasture Blue Ice cod liver/butter oil blend. If you’re looking for a high quality whole food-based multi-vitamin/mineral supplement, I suggest MegaFood or The Synergy Co. All should be cheapest through amazon.
TOMMY: So, my question is, what is the advantage of taking a whole food-based multi vitamin?
ME: Simply put, your body is designed to assimilate and utilize nutrients in their natural form. Synthetic isolates and concentrates can actually do more harm than good due to excess and the fact that the nutrients can be refined and stripped of their cofactors, which can render them either useless or harmful to the body. Also, remember that more in not necessarily better, and increasing nutrient A increases the need for nutrient B, C, etc. because nutrients work synergistically, not individually, which is one of the reasons I favor nutrient-dense FOOD over food extracts and supplements. Finally, intermittent fasting not only forces your body to recycle cellular and genetic material (which is GOOD material assuming you’re eating good food), but also boosts production of your mitochondria, which in turn produce your ultimate antioxidant, glutathione, which is much more powerful than any dietary antioxidant. It also helps preserve telomere length, which are substances that keep your DNA properly intact through the process of cellular division. Telomere preservation is widely regarded as one of the keys to anti-aging. Bit of a tangent, but there ya go. Sorry if any of this is confusing, but if you feel like taking some supplements, those are the ones I would personally endorse. Keep that synthetic shit out of your body because your body doesn’t recognize it as food.
TOMMY: Should I just stay with fish oil? Or, should I take fish oil and the other two you mentioned? I don’t care about taking supplements but you mentioned some and I thought I should be taking them. If not, I’ll just stay on track with the diet. Thanks again.
ME: Go with your gut. I don’t want to say definitely do or don’t take supplements (with the exception of probiotics and possibly fish oil, but fermented foods and wild fish/grass-fed dairy, etc. are even better options here). They won’t do any harm as long as they are a quality whole food-based supplement, but they won’t necessarily put you in a better state of health than a sound diet. I would recommend starting with those few we mentioned, then maybe read some of the books I mentioned to see if there are any others you think you might need. I’m just a big advocate of a high-quality diet over high-quality supplements.
ME: Relax. Breath. Be human. You’ve only been at this for a week, but you’re doing a kickass job adapting.
He’s been extremely coachable and motivated to reach his goals, which makes giving him advice all the more enjoyable for me. A lot of his questions have reminded me where I have been in the past, and make me more grateful for the drastic changes I’ve committed to.
“…relax… breath… be human…” With the addition of the phrase “…love yourself…” I think that’s some of the most sage advice I can give my cousin, or anyone else undertaking any endeavor for that matter, and something which may be in my best interest to remember more often. Like many health-conscious individuals, I’m quite driven and set very high standards for myself. But, no matter the impetus or level of commitment, I am human, and I will falter. I will stumble. I will scrape my knees. Achieving my goals comes not from avoiding displeasure and pain, but by facing them head-on, locking horns with Adversity, and giving that cruel bitch hell. By simply recognizing my human faults, accepting and loving myself, and deciding to arise before she inevitably knocks me on my ass, I have won before the battle ever takes place.
No matter how bad you think you have it, someone is always getting beaten down by life worse than you, yet they somehow dust themselves off and ask for more. What’s your excuse?
Flaws, flab, and all, I love myself (which took me a long time to figure out how to do)… and that’s enough… with or without a 6-pack (currently without, but stay tuned…)