Almost everyone reading this has, at some point, attempted to lose weight and get into shape. I know I have. I know I tried. And until recently, I failed at every attempt and gave up. Quite frankly, a cheesesteak and coke was an easier path to take than disciplined resistance.
However, I have turned a corner and finally pulled it off. If you told me two months ago that I’d not only lose 15 pounds, but be able to keep it off and keep going, I’d tell you you’re nuts.
So now, I wish to share with you how I did it, so that perhaps you may do the same. Let me give you a heads up; there is no magic pill. There is no secret to getting and staying in shape, at least for the most part. Everything I’m about to tell you is pure logic and reason, as it was for me in the past. I simply lacked the knowledge and motivaton to put the pieces together properly, and now that I have, I hope to help you do it too.
First, a little background on “Wilbur”…
Growing up, I was pretty active; I played little league baseball, spent every afternoon after school playing kickball, capture the flag and what not, and hence, looked pretty average as well, which is to say, not fat.
Well, all of that came to a crashing stop when I entered the 7th grade, stopped exercising, and I ended up like this:
Needless to say, when it came time to decide who was “cool” and who was “fat”, you can figure out where I ended up.
Eventually I sort of grew out of it, but never really got into shape. I didn’t look horrible, but the man boobs stayed. Good thing I had a pretty face, or so I was told.
From my Freshman year of college to about last summer, I occasionally took a stab at losing weight. I’d try this diet, that diet, but then forget about it. I had horrible stinkin’ thinking; oops, I ate a cheeseburger, that means the diet isn’t going to work. Oops, I got sick and gained 5 pounds, eh, let’s move on. I worked out at the gym for an hour, I deserve a 14-inch pizza.
All I would think is, why keep trying? It’s never going to happen.
The only time I ever lost weight was when it was for the wrong reasons. There was a time in 2003 when I was going through some pretty bad personal stuff (My Mom was entering the final stages of ALS) and I lost 30 pounds due to loss of appetite, which was due to anxiety. Sure, I looked thin and certainly was (bottoming out at 165), but I didn’t feel great.
Eventually, my weight returned to what one could call normal. Although my personal life certainly improved (got my MBA, wrote some books and started a podcast, as well as finding a truly wonderful lady to spend time with) Mr. Gut returned and got a little bigger, along with a new name; Wilbur.
From age 28-34, my weight went from 175 to 180…185…190…195…205…and then, as recently as Thanksgiving, topped out at 208. Here is a pic of me, my girlfriend and Wilbur after Thanksgiving dinner.
Yeah, I know.
Anyway, there I was, happy in my life, happy in my relationship, not really making an effort to change, because, well, I didn’t think I could. Sure, I worked out; I did some hiking, Krav Maga, a little yoga, but my diet remained pretty much unchanged. If anything, it got worse. I did my best to stay away from junk food, but often stumbled, and didn’t mind having a few martinis now and again.
However, the call to adventure came…
The Return of the Grand Canyon
One day, early last December, I got a call from my Dad, “Hey Jordan, would you like to go back to the Grand Canyon at the end of January?”
Having just been the previous May on a river trip (and had a blast!) of course I would!
There was a catch, but first, the good news; we would be taking a mule ride from the south rim to Phantom Ranch, where we would stay a couple of days and hike to Ribbon Falls, which every Canyon fanatic says is the holy grail of the land.
The bad news? I would have to be under 200 pounds, with clothes on, to ride the mule.
They would be weighing us the night before the mule ride down. And at the present moment, I weighed 208.
Also, it would be the end of January, where the daily temperature could get down to the teens; hence, shorts and a t-shirt would not cut it; my clothes could add up to 10 pounds due to the weather.
At first, I wasn’t sure I could do it, but said yes anyway, reasoning I could figure out the details later. December went by without much of a change; I kind of watched what I ate, but only went down a pound or so, which really was no actual change at all. But New Years Eve was approaching, and I had about a month to lose weight. Could I do it?
Spoiler alert; yup.
A Month that Changed Everything
From January 3 to January 28, I changed my lifestyle and my way of thinking, all leading up to the morning I left for the Canyon. I woke up and weighed myself; 191. I felt pretty good, and my girlfriend said I was home free. But I have a Yogi Berra kind of brain; it ain’t over till it’s over.
Wanna know how I did it? Keep reading.
On January 28, after a healthy breakfast of egg whites, green beans and lentils, I spent the day traveling to the Grand Canyon, and with the exception of water and coffee, fasting. I knew the final stretch could make or break me (or at least I was afraid it would) and I had to sprint to the finish. It certainly didn’t help to see THIS in the Phoenix airport:
But then I thought, I’m being tested. I’m almost done. I got this.
Wanna know how I did it? I promise, it’s coming…
Sure enough, my hard work paid off; with clothes on, my final weight was 195 (I over-estimated my clothes’s weight on purpose); in 25 days, I lost about 17 pounds.
I know, “HOW DID YOU DO IT, JORDAN?” Patience!
After the weigh in, I did what any sensible person in my position would do. Home free, I marched straight over to the cocktail lounge, ordered a bunch of hot wings, soda and a martini, and broke that fast with style.
And you better believe the Grand Canyon was above and beyond my dreams. I hiked further than I ever thought I could (15 miles one day!), had a great time with my brother and father, and made a new friend; Lucy, my mule! She was such a sweetie, and although she stunk, she did not complain at all about me (scroll down to the bottom to see some pics from the trip). Afterwards, I flew to Vegas to meet up with my lady for a little R&R, blackjack, spa time, steak and awesomeness.
The best part, however, is yet to come; this is just the beginning. I’m not done yet. Sure, after eating like an idiot in the Canyon and Vegas, I put four pounds back on, but guess what? After being back home for 5 days and going back to my new lifestyle, I’m back down to 191. I’m not done yet, not by a long shot.
So…wanna know how I did it?
10 Tips on How I Lost 17 pounds in 23 days (and how I will keep going):
- Motivation: Simply ‘wanting to get into shape’ or ‘look good at the beach’ was never enough; I needed a tangible goal to set my sites on, and it wasn’t until the opportunity of the mule ride came up that I had the proper reason to lose weight. This was a trip I was determined not to miss, and I went a step further and set myself up for humiliation by screaming to the world what I was doing. That doubled my motivation. I am usually against ‘humiliation motivation’ but not when it’s self-perscribed. A good life lesson; when you discipline yourself, you are more likely to follow through.
- Slow-Carb Diet: Via Tim Ferriss’s Four-Hour Body book, I shifted my lifestyle (the word “diet” is a fraud, diets don’t work, lifestyle changes do), and made the following changes: No White Flour, same few meals over and over, 30 grams of protein within an hour of waking up, kept alcohol to two glasses of red wine a night and no more, 10 cups of water a day, no more than 2 diet sodas a day, avoided fruit except for tomatoes and avocados, and took one day a week as a ‘free’ day to eat whatever I wanted. That’s pretty much it. For more details, click here, and check out Tim’s site as well (in the extras section down below, you’ll see a typical day of eating for me).
- Exercise: Indeed, getting into shape is at least 75% diet, and you will lose weight with just that, but exercise and conditioning is key to sculpting the body you truly want. To do so, I have found the best results come with a little bit a variety. I do Krav Maga, yoga, hike, row crew, rock climb, jog, weight lift and I’ve even started the 100-push up program, and am in the middle of week 2.
- My Fitness Pal: I promise you, they are not paying me to say this, but I have found it a joy to use this program, which works with your iPad, iPhone, computer and pretty much every smart phone. Check it out; the thing even has a bar code scanner. For someone like me who loves an attention to detail, this thing is a delight, and it’s free!
- It’s Not Just the Calories: I like to count calories, but with this diet, you don’t really have to, it’s just a personal preference of mine. Just remember that although ‘calories in, calories out’ is the rule of law, not all calories are created equal. Sure, you could eat three Big Macs a Day with nothing else and maintain 1500 calories a day, but are you going to be healthy? Nope. Although I do use a scale once a week to keep track of progress (and it’s easy to do), I’ve been told that what you really should be taking a look at is your BMI (Body Mass Index, I’m aiming for 23.7 and currently at 25.9) as well as your body fat percentage. Check out this article for more.
- Allies and Mentors: Having allies in life is everything. My buddy Vik (who just so happens to be an MD) has given me some helpful pointers. However, having my lovely girlfriend (and Sensitive Nice Gal) do this with me cheering me on has made a serious difference. It’s nice to have someone cooking with you who is making a lifestyle change as well (she joined in when I started, and is on a roll as well!).
- Will Power: To be certain, I was motivated, but I’m human too. I made certain to not have any temptation food in my home. If I was going to cheat, I would have to go out for it. So far, so good.
- Continued Motivation for the Future: Okay, as I write this, it’s February 13th, and the canyon is behind me. Why would I not simply fall off the wagon? Well, in the month of January, I found that I not only liked the new lifestyle, but that I finally had in front of me a way to look not just better, but GREAT. Ripped. Shredded. Also, my lady and I have been invited to go to a three-day Vegas Beach Party/Clubbing extravaganza in May, and I wanna look good! I’m tired of having a hot girlfriend and having a gut; I wanna have a hot girlfriend AND look like THIS GUY. And darn it, I’m gonna. With the knowledge that maintenance of my goal weight and physique will be much easier than getting there, I can’t wait to keep going.
- Continued Motivation for Self-Defense: One of my life goals is to achieve the level of black belt in Krav Maga, as well as train in MMA. At the moment, I’m a yellow belt. I am simply never going to get where I need to be unless I get into better shape. I did some “light sparring” before I started this journey, and I could barely make it through. Never again. I will go the distance and then some. My sparring partners deserve nothing less from me.
- If I fall off the wagon, that’s okay: Finally, I can admit that so far, I’ve been good, and I haven’t slipped (except for the Grand Canyon and Vegas, which was planned). However, if I do accidentally scarf down a cheeseburger or pound a Margarita because I have a bad day, that’s okay. I will purposely avoid stinking thinking. A temporary relapse is to be expected, and I will forgive myself and keep going.
So, there you have it. I hope this was useful for you and you have found some motivation and tips to do this yourself. I know that getting and staying in shape is something so many of us struggle with, I know I have, and I’m delighted to share with you how I began and I promise you, I will keep going, I will not quit, I will succeed, and in May, you will get before and after pictures.
Here are some pictures from my trip!
And here is a typical day of recipes for my new lifestyle, along with nutritional information *:
|Egg – Hard Boiled Egg (Whole), 2 eggs||140||0||5||6||70||0|
|Egglands Best Eggs – 3 Egg Whites, Hard Boiled, 3 egg whites, hard boiled||51||0||4||12||0||0|
|Trader Joe’s – Steamed Lentils, 1/2 cup||120||20||0||9||240||2|
|Raw – Green Beans, 1 Cup||34||8||0||2||7||2|
|Green Tea – Green Tea, 10 oz||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Raw – Broccoli, 1 Cup (100g)||31||6||0||3||30||2|
|Trader Joe’s – Cuban Style Black Beans, 1/2 cup||100||19||1||6||370||1|
|Monari Federzoni – Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, 1 Tbsp (15 ml)||15||3||0||0||0||3|
|Zico – Pure Premium Coconut Water, 2 oz||11||3||0||0||10||3|
|Trader Joe’s – Organic Boneless & Skinless Chicken Breasts, 8 oz||240||0||3||52||150||0|
|Bumble Bee – Solid White Albacore Tuna In Water – 5 oz 142g Can, 5.25 oz drained (58)||105||0||2||23||245||0|
|Trader Joe’s – Organic Boneless & Skinless Chicken Breasts, 4 oz||120||0||2||26||75||0|
|Raw – Green Beans, 1 Cup||34||8||0||2||7||2|
|Cheese – Parmesan, shredded, 2.5 tbsp||52||0||3||5||212||0|
|Coca-Cola – Caffeine Free Diet Coke, 12 oz||0||0||0||0||40||0|
|Trader Joe’s – White Kidney Beans (Cannellini), 90.75 grams||113||14||4||5||383||2|
|Jordan’s SNG meat sauce – The best!, 1/2 cup **||370||30||10||22||728||12|
|Caltrate 600+D Plus Minerals Calcium Supplement – Calcium & Vitamin D, 2 TABLET||20||4||0||0||0||4|
|Fal – Nature Made Magnesium – 250mg, 2 tablet||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|One A Day – Vitacraves Gummies Plus Omega-3 Dha, 2 Gummies||15||3||0||0||0||3|
|Nature Made – Potassium Gluconate 550mg (= 90mg for Tracking), 2 tablet||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Sunstone – Merlot, 6 oz||165||0||0||0||0||0|
|Sunstone – Merlot, 6 oz||165||0||0||0||0||0|
* Ten Cups of Water throughout the day
** Click here for a look at my “SNG Seduction Sauce” Recipe!
*** On this day, burned about 700 calories doing an hour of Krav Maga, so my “net calories” is a bit lower than 2,273. Go ahead and do the math