by Ryan Mangipano
I started my quest of starvation and suffering as planned on January 1st, 2012. I started the cardio, whole grains, and starvation. I saw some quick but minor weight loss during the first week. Then on January 8th, something changed. My employer, Microsoft, ran an intranet news story regarding a Microsoft programmer that wrote a book about losing weight without starvation. I bought this book, which was The Smarter Science of Slim. I could not put this book down. I read the book every free moment that I had for 3 days straight. After reading this, I realized that the strategy which I was planning to use was flawed. I felt like I finally understood why I was unable to control my hunger. I truly felt like I had a chance.
Next, I went out and bought the foods that Jonathan recommended. I focused on changing my habits. I ate vegetables and I started eating a lot less sugars, breads, and starches. I avoided the bad fats. I felt that I was now better equipped at how to judge the healthiness of foods. I made it my goal to ensure that most of my meals were SANE. I still tracked everything that I ate in a phone app. I also continued to do the cardio and added some traditional weightlifting. I tried a couple of times to mix in eccentric exercise, but I never really followed Jonathan’s exercise advice. Instead, I played a lot of basketball at the gym for hours with my kids. This consisted of up to 5 days a week of 3 to 6 hours at the gym. I also attended a weekly cardio step/weight class, swam, and various other activities. I followed the protein and veggie recommendations very close. Since I was already eating as much protein and veggies as I could, I added extra calories in the form of healthy fats to “fund” the exercise. But it didn’t really matter since the natural nutrient dense diet full of veggies and lacking in starches and sugar proved to be the missing link for me. I was never hungry. In fact, my wife still asks me if I ever stop eating. Whenever I am asked this, I now proudly answer “No. I need to eat or I won’t lose weight!”.
There was no suffering or hunger on this nutrition program. I did have to get used to some of the veggies and foods. However, now, I prefer most of the choices over their non-SANE alternatives. Now, I simply look at a lot of inSANE foods (except for a few favorites) as garbage. Based on my phone app output, I estimate that I consumed an average of 3200-3300 calories of which about 41% were from fat. I never totally stopped eating out. I just choose SANE options at resturants that I know have SANE choices (or will work with me). In fact, I never had a perfect week since I started the diet. Cheat foods included cheesecake, hamburger, grits, wheat toast, hash browns, etc. Most weeks, I ate insane for at least 2 cheat meals. Some weeks, it was many more cheat meals. If I did go off the plan, I usually tried to minimize the sugars and starches by drinking unsweetened tea, skipping the fries when eating the burger, etc. The key point for me was that the vegetables were where I put my focus. Basically, I was doing a SANE diet + cardio + a little extra healthy fats.
Even though I was so relaxed with the diet, the weight just kept slowly going down. After 7 months or so of following Jonathan’s dietary recommendations, I had lost around 30 pounds. The big surprise came when my clothes stopped fitting me. I recall that when I was at my heaviest, I had trouble buttoning a size 42 pants. Now, size 40 shorts kept falling off me. My belts were at the last loop and would not hold up my pants anymore. I got frustrated with constantly holding my pants up one day and went out to buy new shorts. After SSOS, I was fitting in a size 35. My waistline at its largest spot had from 50” to 45”. I donated almost all my clothing and bought a new wardrobe. I went from size 2XL shirts to a large.
Despite the large difference, significant visceral fat kept me looking very overweight. I estimate that I was still carrying about 30-35 extra pounds of unwanted fat; however, this was a large difference from 65 pounds of extra fat. Nevertheless, I felt great and was halfway towards my fat loss goal. Unfortunately, I never broke my goal weight of getting under 200 by the end of 2012. The lowest weight that I ever saw on the scale when I had lost all the weight in 2012 was 202.2. Nevertheless, anyone who had not seen me in over a year noticed right away and made a comment. A relative said “I didn’t know who was getting out of that car”. At the gym café, when you charge food a picture appears on the screen. The worker exclaimed, “Wow! When was this picture. It doesn’t look like you.”. A coworker who moved to a different group and hadn’t seen me in a long time said, ““you are almost getting unrecognizable”. Most people that see me every day don’t notice a difference unless I show them old pictures. Then they are usually very surprised.
But that’s just the where the benefits start. After years of doctors giving me lectures on my weight, heart-attack risks, how I was going to become a diabetic, and how crazily high my triglycerides were, my current doctor smiled on my next visit. He was very pleased with the results of my blood panel. My HDL cholesterol was still a little low; however, everything else was within a normal range. Even my triglycerides went way down into the normal range. The funny part is that later on in the visit, he began to advise me to start eating “Fiber One” cereal. After a useless attempt at converting him away from the dark side, I mentioned the fatty liver. He said that I needed to keep doing what I was doing and he could perform an ultrasound in a couple of years.
Another unexpected benefit was that I had more energy and felt younger, healthier, stronger and energized. By maximizing my nutrition and gaining muscle, I went from feeling 10 years older than my true age to feeling 10 years younger. I am 37 and never thought I would ever again be an active and energetic person. I am no longer tired all day. I no longer feel sick and weak all the time. My allergies even seem to have improved. Every part of my life has been affected by this change. Even my kids are eating a little better. The best part is that I was able to lose all of this weight without any starvation, while enjoying many cheat meals.
Stay Tuned for Part 3 Next Week!