How Ben Lost 155 Pounds On The Paleo Diet (Interview)
Hi! Tell us about yourself…why did you decide to start losing weight?
I had been overweight for my entire life. It wasn’t until I found myself at 333 pounds in my mid-20s with three young children that the light finally went off in my head. There was one week specifically where I saw my obese self on local tv and had a less than favorable doctor’s visit.
Those events pairing up with my growing anxiety and general unhappiness with the state of my life created my “moment” as so many successful transformations describe. The moment it finally clicked that I wanted more from my life for both myself and my family.
What did you do for exercise when you started? Did you change it up throughout your journey?
Working out was a small, yet constant part of my weight loss journey. I started out doing all I could do which was walking. Once I became more capable, I moved on to bodyweight exercises at home. I eventually joined a gym where I fell in love with kettlebells which became my primary workout tool and continues to be even today.
I also began training Brazilian jiu-jitsu towards the very end of my weight loss journey, and it is the single most important activity in my life. All other workouts now are only done to make me better at jiu-jitsu. I think the most important this is to find what you like and do those things. Don’t be afraid to try new stuff, and don’t feel like the thing you enjoy doing is wrong just because it’s not weight lifting or marathon running.
What did you do for nutrition when you started? Did you change it up throughout your journey?
The first dietary change I made was to a paleo diet. From there, I moved on to keto while maintaining the same food selections as I was doing paleo. My approach changed A LOT throughout my journey, but there were a handful of things that I think are key steps for anyone looking to improve their diet.
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The biggest of those was removing grains and sugars from my diet. By eliminating almost all processed foods and basing my diet around single ingredient whole foods, I have found not only tremendous weight loss results but improved health and reduced cravings and anxiety around food.
How did you stay mentally strong when it was tough? Did you ever give up? How did you recover?
The most important part of staying motivated is to have a solid reason as to WHY you want to lose weight. I don’t care if it’s to improve your health or even to look better naked. You have to have a reason WHY and it has to be incredibly meaningful and important to you. For me (and most people), there were a couple of very important reasons. Those reasons can also change as you go on. Just always have a WHY and keep it in your mind.
That being said, I am nowhere near perfect. From my heaviest weight of 333 pounds, I was able to get all the way down to 209 pounds. Then I had a bit of a rough patch, and what I lovingly look back and call my little existential crisis. Long story short, I gained back 80 pounds finding myself rapidly approaching that 300-pound mark again. Once I was able to find my way through those dark times and commit to myself again, I lost 111 pounds to find myself at my lowest weight ever of 178 pounds.
I have since gained some weight, but intentionally this time. Doing it on purpose with my athletic goals in mind. My WHY has changed once again. But I always had one, and I made sure to find my way back to it even at my lowest point of regaining so much weight. I can’t stress the importance of having a WHY!
Did you use any sort of trackers/apps/scales to track your progress?
I didn’t track my food for a long time. Eating paleo and eliminating sugars and processed foods allowed me to effortlessly drop pounds for a while. Eventually, I did move on to tracking my food using MyFitnessPal which is the tracking app I always recommend to everyone.
For workouts, I was not nearly as detailed. I used a notepad on my phone to schedule and track some progress, but the diet was the big focus for me.
When did you start to notice progress?
There are many ways you’ll see changes and some that you won’t even necessarily notice or appreciate at the time. The biggest moment for me in terms of early in my journey was finally being able to shop for clothes beyond the “big and tall” stores and sections. SO MANY options for clothing and style that were never available to me before that moment.
Weigh yourself, take pictures, take measurements, find anyway you can to track and appreciate the progress you make. It’s about the journey, not the destination. Strive for progress, not perfection.
Do you have any fitness “hacks” or “secrets” that helped you succeed?
Success in weight loss is at least 90% dietary. Working out is excellent for several reasons, but the bulk of weight loss is done with your diet. The biggest “hack” I have is to eat only single-ingredient whole foods. Eliminating processed food is a MASSIVE step regardless of your dietary approach, workout routine, supplementation, etc. My secret… EAT REAL FOOD.
What advice would you give to beginners who are looking to lose weight?
- EAT REAL FOOD. We’ve touched on this several times, but it’s a fundamental and impactful first step.
- Move your body. Do whatever you can, but push yourself. If you’re like I was and struggle to do anything, just take short walks and increase the distance or time each week. If you start working out, begin at a level you’re comfortable with the intention of trying new and/or more advanced things in the future. Just MOVE YOUR BODY.
- Don’t ignore the mental stuff. Losing weight won’t make you happy. Perhaps your weight or body contribute to your happiness, but losing weight alone will not make you happy. I didn’t realize this until I lost 120+ pounds, gained 80 back, then fixed the mental stuff, lost 110+, and now I’ve sustained/progressed for the last couple of years. Self-care, therapy, (both of which I’ve done a lot of) – I don’t care what you need to do, but work on the inside as much as the outside.
Do you have any fitness books/podcasts/websites that you’d recommend and why?
The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson is literally the book that changed my entire life. It started me on the path that led me to where I am today and continues to influence my dietary choices today.
I also host my own podcast (PrimalBrocast) where even though there is no theme for all the episodes, I talk to people who have lost weight, experts on nutrition, athletes in various sports, and a bunch of other people with great insight and advice for people interested in fitness and nutrition no matter where they are in their own health journies.
Where can we find more about you?
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